Tenor William Dwyer is a native Chicagoan and alumnus of Illinois Wesleyan University and Northwestern University. As a young artist Dwyer has performed with Chautauqua Opera, Opera North, Sarasota Opera, Central City Opera and Chicago Opera Theater. Credits include Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, Freddy in My Fair Lady, Sumeida in Sumeida’s Song, Captain Lawson in A Coffin in Egypt, Camille in The Merry Widow, The Solider in The Emperor of Atlantis, Vagabond 1 in The Clever One, Stephen Baker in Show Boat, Ufiiciale in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and Basilio in Le Nozze di Figaro. William is a cantor at Old St. Patrick’s Church, Chicago.
What is the story of how you first came to love music and opera?
When I was a kid I was a disaster at sports, so they held no interest for me. Luckily my elementary school had a choir, and I ate it up. I loved singing in front of people and getting a reaction. My first memory of opera would have been courtesy of the music sharing program Kazaa. I came across a recording of -- and I know how tragically gay this is, but nonetheless -- Maria Callas singing Madama Butterfly. I was and still am so transfixed by her voice and her expressions. The power and the drama of the piece and her recording got me into researching more about opera.
What is the biggest challenge you face as an artist?
Calling myself an artist. Honestly, nerves – feeling as if I am good enough to stand in front of people and sing and be paid for it.
Do you have a favorite performer?
Fritz Wunderlich – that voice is untouchable. Most of his recordings are definitive and the voice is so expressive and naturally beautiful. If you want a master class, listen to him singing ‘Dies bildnis’ from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte on German TV. He’s as cool as a cucumber and the music just gushes from his resplendent throat with no trace of strain.
Do you have a favorite role? Aria? Opera?
It’s a Mozart trifecta - Favorite role would be Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, favorite aria to sing would be ‘O wie angstlich’ from Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and favorite opera would be Le Nozze di Figaro.
Do you have any favorite books about Music?
The Queen’s Throat – Koestenbaum, The Rest is Noise and Listen to This – Alex Ross (actually, anything Alex Ross writes about music), Mozart’s Women – Jane Glover, Fortissimo – William Murray, Die Bäsle-Briefe – W.A. Mozart, and Call Me Debbie – Deborah Voigt.
What else are you reading?
Divas and Scholars – Philip Gossett. I am glacially moving my way through Chernow’s biography of Hamilton.
Who are your favorite 17th and 18th century composers?
Mozart, Bach, Handel, Purcell, Gluck, Scarlatti, and, of course, Papa Joe Haydn.
If stranded on a desert island, is there one piece of music you would like to have with you?
Good question. I think Götterdämmerung, as I would have a great deal of time on my hands and that show never ends.
What do you love about HOC?
I love intimate opera experiences that present new and not oft-performed pieces. HOC specializes in bringing to the stage gorgeous pieces of music that other companies in Chicago don’t mount.
What is your favorite thing to do when not making music?
Hiking – I love to walk.
What is the first thing you think about in the morning?
How I am going to negotiate my way to the shower.
Do you have any heroes / heroines?
That is a good question – I am not one for hero worship, but I definitely look to the following people as sources of inspiration: Teddy Roosevelt, Marie Theresa of Austria, Beethoven, and anyone who works with individuals with special needs.
What music do you listen to often?
Classical music, but also bluegrass, country, and pop. My iTunes shuffle is a glimpse into my musical schizophrenia.
If you had not entered into your current career, what do you think you would have done instead?
I would probably say drifter – professional drifter.