Since making his New York City Opera debut in 1972,
Chicagoan WILLIAM POWERS has performed over 100 operatic roles with the
major opera companies in the United States, Europe, and South America.
While the stylistic range of his portrayals spans the gamut from Renaissance
(Monteverdi’s ORFEO for San Francisco) to Contemporary (Pasatieri’s SEAGULL
for Washington DC), Powers has earned an enviable reputation as a “heavy”
– due in large part to the dark, penetrating color of his voice – thus
the portrayal of rogues and villains has dominated his career. His
teachers and mentors, George London and Norman Treigle, have also added
to the intensity of the acting aspect of Powers’ delivery – for which he
has become well-known.
has been the creator of many new roles through world-premiers or important
revivals…most recently singing the villain “Meyer Wolfsheim” for the premier
of Harbison’s THE GREAT GATSBY at the Metropolitan Opera in New York;
other new creations have included Penderecki’s PARADISE LOST
for Chicago’s Lyric Opera; Herrmann’s WUTHERING HEIGHTS for
Portland; Stewart Copeland’s HOLY BLOOD AND CRESCENT MOON for Cleveland;
and Petrassi’s SESTINA D’AUTUNNO for Italy’s Spoleto Festival. Of
re-creations, Powers offered the role of “Celio” for the 50th
Anniversary production of Prokofiev’s THE LOVE OF THREE ORANGES for Chicago;
the rarely heard BETLY of Donizetti for Strasbourg, and the French
version of Donizetti’s LA FAVORITE for the Theatre d’Champs-Elysees and
the Opera Comique in Paris; the creation of the Italian version of
THE LADY MACBETH OF THE MTZENSK DISTRICT for Spoleto; and the American premier
of G. F. Handel’s PORO, RE DI INDIE for Kennedy Center’s Handel Festival
in Washington DC.
voice has been widely recorded and has been heard in hundreds of Broadcasts.
A solo CD released on the Centaur label as ROGUES AND VILLAINS in
2000 has been followed with yet another collection of wicked evil-doers
and miscreants entitled, THE WORST OF WILLIAM POWERS in 2009. The two
discs contain dozens of arias from many under-handed characters, including
Rossini’s “Basilio”, “Dr. Bartolo”, “Mustafa”, and “Don Magnifico”; Verdi’s
“Iago”; Beethoven’s “Pizzaro”; Ponchielli’s “Alvise”, and Mussorgsky’s
“Boris”. Various devils include Gounod’s “Mephistopheles”, Meyerbeer’s
“Bertram”, and Boito’s “Mefistofele”. The “Four Villains” of Offenbach’s
LES CONTES D’HOFFMANN. Floyd’s “Reverend Blitch”; Wagner’s
“Alberich”; Mozart’s “Leporello”; Puccini’s “Gianni
Schicchi”; Gruenberg’s “Jones”, and the ultimate rascal of
them all – Verdi’s “Falstaff”.
repertoire has not been ignored with Beethoven’s NINTH and MISSA
SOLEMNIS; the REQUIEMs of Verdi, Mozart, Dvořák, Brahms and Faure;
and the MESSIAH as well as many oratorios of Handel. These standards
being joined by the contemporary works of William Schuman and Ned Rorem, in conjunction
with the Symphonies of Chicago, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Philadelphia,
San Antonio, Los Angeles, and Dallas in the United States, as well as the
Symphonies of Paris, Cologne, Strasbourg, Trieste, Prague, Bratislava,
Hague, Amsterdam, and Vienna.
For more information, see his official website, http://www.wpbaritone.com. [Note that all other links on this page refer to my interviews elsewhere on my website. BD]
Russell Patterson, Former Opera And Symphony Director, Dies At 85Updated: Friday, October 4, 11:15 a.m.
Russell Patterson, general artistic director of the Lyric Opera of Kansas City for four decades, as well as one of its founders, died Wednesday; he was 85. Patterson was also the first music director for the Kansas City Symphony.
From 1957 to 1998, Patterson served as the Lyric's artistic director. In a history of the company posted on its website, he's credited with sparking the idea:
In the fall of 1957, a young conductor, Russell Patterson proposed to transplant the European opera-theater pattern to a more or less typical American setting. A number of local opera buffs welcomed the idea, but there were many qualms...
Patterson described these early days in his 1987 book, A View from the Pit: "When we formed the Lyric, we called it The Kansas City Lyric Theater. We wanted a place for those who love theater and those who love music. They discovered that opera was fun – not a cultural castor oil."
The Lyric's general director and CEO, Deborah Sandler, said in a statement, "His legacy to Lyric Opera of Kansas City and the Kansas City community cannot be overstated...without his ceaseless energy and imagination which created a strong opera and arts foundation in Kansas City, we would not be here today."
A native of Mississippi, Patterson earned a bachelor’s degree from Southeast Louisiana University in 1950 and went on to earn a master's in music in 1952 from the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. After graduation, he studied opera in Germany, and later taught at the Conservatory. He played with the Kansas City Philharmonic from 1951 to 1959. When this organization dissolved in 1982, Patterson served as the first music conductor for the Kansas City Symphony, from 1982 to 1986.
"It would be impossible to imagine where the Symphony stands today, or to dream about our future, without understanding from where we came," said current music director Michael Stern in a statement. "Russell Patterson is part of the DNA of our orchestra, and he was and always will be part of the lifeblood and the history of The Kansas City Symphony."
In 1982, Patterson received the Ditson Conductor’s Award, a recognition given to conductors for "distinguished contributions to American music." Others who have received this distinction include conductors such as James Levine, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Leonard Slatkin, and Leonard Bernstein.
After retiring from the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Patterson moved to Cape Cod, Mass. and he continued to conduct.
Patterson was the founding artistic director and conductor of the Buzzards Bay Musicfest, a summer classical concert series, in Marion, Mass., from 1997 until his retirement this year due to health issues. He also co-founded the Sunflower Music Festival in Topeka, Kan. in 1987; he returned in 2011 to conduct in honor of its silver anniversary.
© 2003 Bruce Duffie
This conversation was recorded in Chicago on July 20, 2003. Portions were broadcast on WNUR a few days later. This transcription was made in 2021, and posted on this website at that time. My thanks to British soprano Una Barry for her help in preparing this website presentation.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.