Baritone Aaron Wardell is in demand as a performer of opera, oratorio and concert in the Midwest and beyond. He was most recently seen as Angelotti in Tosca with the Fort Wayne Symphony, Emile de Becque in South Pacific with the La Porte Symphony, and Yamadori in Madama Butterfly with the Castleton Festival. Last season he sang Giove in La Calisto with Haymarket Opera. He has also appeared with Chicago Fringe Opera, Chamber Opera Chicago, Main Street Opera, Dayton Opera, Opera Tampa, Central City Opera, and internationally at Teatro National de Sucre in numerous operatic roles, including Marcello (La Bohème), Junius (Rape of Lucretia), Sam (Trouble in Tahiti), Don Pizarro (Fidelio), and the title role in Don Giovanni. Aaron is a graduate of Western Michigan University and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where he received both a Master's degree and an Artist Diploma in Opera.
See Aaron in our upcoming production of Marais' Ariane et Bachus!
What is the story of how you first came to love music and opera?
I acted in student and community theater while in high school and one year decided to try out for the school musical. My mother remarked, “You can't sing, can you? Let's find out.” She sat me down at the piano and I sang out for the first time ever. I think I was fifteen. The next day she enrolled me in voice lessons.
That same year I was an accompanist for the choir and had a hard time playing the left hand in the piano reduction of the Gloria in Schubert’s Mass in G. The director put me in the bass section instead. When registration for the Solo & Ensemble competition rolled around, I expressed interest in preparing a piano piece. My choir teacher brought out Silent Noon by Vaughan Williams instead. “This isn't a piano piece,” I said. Having heard me sing in the choir, he replied, “I know,” and began playing.
What is the biggest challenge you face as an artist?
Finding balance between artistic fulfillment in singing and a pragmatic approach to making a living.
Do you have a favorite performer?
As a young singer I was greatly influenced by Samuel Ramey. His CD of Rossini bass arias was a vocal revelation to me.
Do you have a favorite role? Aria? Opera?
Not a favorite role, but I'm greatly attracted to Italian opera, specifically those of Donizetti and Verdi.
Do you have any favorite books about music?
Caruso and the Art of Singing, written by his accompanist, provides insight into one of the greatest singers in history: his habits, his thoughts on technique, and his transformation from a comprimario voice to a worldwide tenor phenomenon.
What else are you reading?
Technical Analysis of the Financial Markets by John Murphy.
Who are your favorite 17th and 18th century composers?
Bach first, Mozart a close second.
If you were stranded on a desert island, is there one piece of music you would like to have with you?
This is an impossible question because I would invariably get sick of that piece fairly quickly. But if I could have Beethoven and Bruckner’s nine symphonies, I think I'd be pretty happy.
What do you love about HOC?
Their artistic integrity, their treatment of artists, their attention to detail.
Do you have a favorite memory from a past HOC event?
Learning to walk in four-inch heels during last year’s La Calisto.
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not making music?
I love tackling little tech projects. I just completed a retro-style arcade in our extra bedroom, much to the chagrin of my wife.
What is the first thing you think about in the morning?
Feeding my two cats, as they put in a small, unscripted theatrical production every morning to wake us up.
Do you have any heroes/heroines?
Superman, a sort of godlike, modern-day Übermensch. Also, he can fly.
What music do you listen to most often?
A lot of podcasts. Whatever I'm working on musically tends to play on repeat in my head as a sort of radio that I can't turn off, so it's nice to get some relief.
If you had not entered into your current career what do you think you would have done instead?
Probably a music teacher or engineer. My dad was an ironworker, so I love working with my hands, building things and figuring out how they work.