In the lead-up to Gloriana’s twentieth-anniversary performance of JS Bach’s Mass in B Minor we take some time out to profile our team of soloists.
Profile: Nicholas Dinopoulos
Dinopoulos studied at the University of Melbourne with Merlyn Quaife AM and furthered his training at The Opera Studio Melbourne.
He’s a prolific concert artist and recitalist and is frequently heard in live-to-air broadcasts on ABC Classic FM and 3MBS FM and is a core member of Songmakers Australia under the artistic patronage of Graham Johnson.
He recently created the role of The Poet in the world premiere of Constantine Koukias’ The Barbarians (Helpmann Award nomination, Best Opera category) for IHOS Opera / MONA FOMA 2012. The 2013 season marked debuts for both Victorian Opera (Melbourne) and Pinchgut Opera (Sydney).
Recent and upcoming engagements include performances of the Grainger Tribute to Foster for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra under Sir Andrew Davis (and a subsequent recording for Chandos Records), El Cantor (María de Buenos Aires) for Victorian Opera, Keeper of the Madhouse (The Rake’s Progress) for the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, the Schubert Schwanengesang for Art Song Canberra with associate artist Andrea Katz, the Buxtehude Membra Jesu Nostri for the Melbourne Festival, a fourth consecutive invitation to the Peninsula Summer Musical Festival and recitals with Songmakers Australia at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Melbourne Recital Centre and for Musica Viva Australia.
He also currently holds positions on the staff of the Australian Boys Choral Institute and at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music (Monash University).
The Three Questions
What does Bach’s music mean to you personally?
This is extremely difficult to summarise. Johann Sebastian Bach truly was my first love and I first encountered his music at age 10.
The first CD I bought shortly after this discovery was a recording of the Brandenburg Concertos played by Yehudi Menuhin. The mood of these concertos is largely optimistic, but the inner movements contain some extremely touching and poignant moments.
As I explored more and more of Bach’s music across the different genres he wrote in, the emotions got deeper.
In a sense, I grew up with and through Bach. In this music we find the full gamut of what it means to be human: joy, wonderment, awe, pathos, nostalgia, reverence, despair, even cheekiness and playfulness. It is simply soul stirring.
What do you think makes Bach’s music so universal in its appeal?
The harmony. Bach has a way of eliciting certain reactions in the listener through the use of an extremely colourful (even surprising or sometimes shocking) harmonic language.
Tell us about the solo/s you are singing in the B minor mass. What can you share with us about these solos?
There are two arias in the B Minor Mass ascribed to the bass voice.
In Bach’s time this was a rather generic term and in effect, the two arias are actually written for two different types of voice with distinct qualities.
The first aria is grand and majestic (Bach employs the entirely unique orchestration of horn, two bassoons and continuo) and this mood befits the “true” bass voice – deep, rich and resonant.
The second is lilting and requires more flexibility. The over-all range is also quite a bit higher, so probably more in the baritone territory. We must remember that the Mass is a compendium of Bach’s life-long work and was never performed as a whole during his lifetime.
I doubt that they were ever intended to be sung by the same singer, but my voice is that of a bass-baritone so it has a foot in both camps.
I can basically tumble out of bed and sing the first aria, but then at interval a few scales and a bit more warming up is required to help achieve the higher tessitura and flexibility for the second.
Gloriana will be performing Bach’s Mass in B Minor at St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne, on Friday 13 June at 8 pm.
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