Scott J. Brunscheen’s “sweet and substantial lyric tenor” (Chicago Tribune) continues to gain recognition in a wide range of operatic and concert repertoire. Engagements during the 2016-17 season include Haydn's L’isola disabitata with Haymarket Opera Company, Purcell's The Fairy Queen, and the world premiere of Stewart Copeland's The Invention of Morel with Chicago Opera Theater and Long Beach Opera, and Mozart's Die Zauberflote with Madison Opera. Other recent engagements include productions of Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites (singing L’Aumônier and understudying Chevalier de la Force) and Donizetti's La Favorite (covering Don Gaspar) under maestro Will Crutchfield at the Caramoor Bel Canto Festival. In the Fall of 2015, he sang Peter Quint & Prologue in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw with Chicago Fringe Opera. Mr. Brunscheen has understudied and performed in Donizetti's La Fille du Regiment, Puccini’s Tosca, and Heggie's Dead Man Walking (Madison Opera), Glass’ The Fall of the House of Usher, Mose in Egitto, Giasone, and Die Zauberflöte (COT), Chin’s Alice in Wonderland and Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd (Opera Theater of St. Louis), Rossini’s Guillaume Tell, Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia (Caramoor), Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Dean Burry's The Brothers Grimm (Lyric Opera of Chicago Lyric Unlimited), Britten's The Rape of Lucretia (CFO), Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia and La Cenerentola and Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Candid Concert Opera), and Mozart's Don Giovanni with Opera New Jersey.
What is the story of how you first came to love music and opera?
My love of music came from my parents’ eclectic taste (rock, musicals, classical music) and living in a public school district that happened to have an incredible music program. I was first introduced to opera by my high school voice teacher who had me listen to recordings of Nicolai Gedda and Jussi Bjorling. I was hooked.
What is the biggest challenge you face as an artist?
You’d think auditioning was the worst (it almost is!), but I think our biggest challenge is making sure to continue educating and encouraging people of all ages as to how important the arts are. In America I feel like we are constantly having to defend the relevance of classical music.
Do you have a favorite performer?
There are so many… right now I’m obsessed with Richard Croft and Toby Spence.
Do you have a favorite role? Aria? Oratorio or opera?
Favorite role: Le Comte Ory. Favorite aria: “Lieux funestes” from Dardanus. Favorite oratorio: Handel’s Theodora.
Do you have any favorite books about music?
Lynn Eustic’s The Singer’s Ego.
What else are you reading?
Do knitting patterns count?
Who are your favorite 17th and 18th century composers?
Lully, Gluck, Mozart.
If you were stranded on a desert island, is there one piece of music you would like to have with you?
Max Richter’s Music from Woolf Works.
What do you love about HOC?
Every time I have sung at or attended an HOC performance, the company’s passion for this music is palpable. Performers, audience members, and board members are all so invested in this incredible art form.
Do you have a favorite memory from a past HOC event?
During Haydn’s L’isolda disabitata, the audience cracking up each time one of the characters “discovered” the enormous tablet reading “Del traditor Gernando Constanza abbandonata il giorni suoi…”
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not making music?
My off days are spent cooking or eating all kinds of food and spending time with my husband and our dog.
What is the first thing you think about in the morning?
Do I want hot- or cold-brew coffee?
Do you have any heroes/heroines?
Musical scholars like Philip Gossett, William Crutchfield, or Sylvie Bouissou, who have helped make accessible a world of music previously forgotten. I cannot imagine the amount of work and time that goes into all their beautiful critical editions and books. People should be as familiar with their names as they are with those of performers.
What music do you listen to most often?
Spotify is usually playing contemporary classical, baroque, or dance/pop.
If you had not entered into your current career what do you think you would have done instead?
Something in botany or horticulture.