Michael Valentekovic is a bass-baritone and a Southern California native. This is his last year at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music where he has studied voice with both Brian Farrell and Marvellee Cariaga.
While a member of the BCCM Opera Institute, Michael performed the roles of Don Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro, Count des Grieux in Manon, and Masetto in Don Giovanni. In Die Zauberflöte he sang with the chorus and performed the role of the priest. Michael also performed and sang in last spring's production of L'elisir d'amore. Other roles include Lazar Wolf in Fiddler on the Roof, Moonface Martin in Anything Goes and most recently Don Bartolo in Barber of Seville with the Repertory Opera Company, Pomona.
What was your first interest or involvement with music?
In the fifth grade, I chose to join choir because the choir director was planning a trip to Disneyland. I auditioned for a solo, won and sang Corner of the Sky from the musical Pippin. That's when I discovered that music meant more to me than just the Disneyland trip. At Palos Verdes Peninsula High School I was active in water polo, drama, and sang with the choirs, under the direction of Patricia Maddaford and Daniel Doctor. I had lots of fun on all choir tours and especially the choir trip to Hawaii!
Why did you choose opera?
This is my 5th year in the Opera Institue. The first opera I was in here at BCCM changed my life. It was the best experience I had ever known. I can still remember waiting backstage and listening to the overture of Le nozze di Figaro; it gives me chills just thinking about it. Also preparing and listening to the music is exciting to me and I'm looking forward to studying the music for the opera next spring.
Do you usually get anxious prior to a performance?
Nothing out of control, but I do get nervous. I like to use the adrenalin I get from the first face-to-face connection with the audience and channel that energy into each performance. I enjoy using the character's depth of expression to reach the audience—entering the stage in character is my favorite part. When I perform, I feel a vibrant connection with the audience. Each time I perform I love to discover new things about my characters and the music. The performance breaks down the "baloney of everyday life" as both the audience and the players join in the expression. This connection is beautiful and uniquely human. I believe life is short and should be experienced. Quoting Macbeth, "…Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage / And then is heard no more…" In this way, I am able to explore my experiences through the stage. Opera has given me joy throughout my life, particularly during my recent struggle with cancer. However, thankfully, I am now in full remission.
What is your family like? Are they musicians?
I don't come from a very musical background. My family has a long line of chemists and my dad is a mechanical engineer. Everyone asks where I got my love of music, but I don't think my dad and I are that different. To me, music is equally mathematical and though we are in different fields, we think in similar ways.
Michael will perform the role of Kecal in the Opera Institute's production of The Bartered Bride by Smetana this Spring, April 8-10, 2016.