Ten Questions with Kelly Markgraf

Ten Questions With…

Kelly Markgraf, baritone
Don Pizarro in Fidelio 

1.  Where were you born / raised? 
Cedarburg, Wisconsin.

2.  If you weren’t a singer, what profession would you be in?
Antique restoration and/or historical architecture preservation.

3.  My favorite opera is…
After studying it recently for an upcoming recording project, Carlisle Floyd’s Wuthering Heights is near or at the top of my list.  From the traditional repertoire, probably Don Carlos.

4.  My favorite pre/post-show meal is…
Wild rice, a bit of protein, and a raw kale salad.

5.  People would be surprised to know that…
I have a tea company, importing fine loose leaf tea from all over the world.

6.  What is your favorite song to belt out at the bar / in the car /for karaoke?
“Country Road” by James Taylor.

7.  What is your pop culture guilty pleasure?
Antique Roadshow.

8.  A few of my favorite films are…
The Philadelphia Story, The Lion in Winter. 

9.  If we were to turn on your ipod right now, what five artists/songs would we see on your recently-played list?   
India Arie, Sam Cooke, Neil Young, Disney songs (for my daughter), Chris Paulson (the best street musician I’ve ever heard, who I came across this past spring in Bordeaux).

10.  What is the best costume you’ve ever worn? 
The Plant in Little Shop of Horrors.

11.  Bonus:  One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer):
Q:  Have you had a moment where you felt affirmed that all that you do and sacrifice to have the life of a musician is worth it?

A:  Absolutely.  I recently was on a plane and started talking with the guy across the aisle from me.  He was a veteran Army Ranger of multiple tours of duty in Iraq, and then two in Afghanistan.  He has now left the military and is hoping to start a new life.  Hearing about what he went through:  the stress, the danger, the injuries, the despair over watching all his friends die — it was heartbreaking.  He asked what I do, and when I told him I sing opera, he was quite taken aback, and tears came to his eyes.  He said, “Man, you have no idea — that’s what gets us through out there.  So many of us, even though we don’t really talk about it, listen to opera to help us get through.  The sheer power and beauty of it… to be able to turn that on when we’re in the field and be transported to another place…  Thank you for doing what you do.  It means the world to us.”

Don’t miss the chance to see Kelly in Fidelio, Beethoven’s only opera!  Performances are November 21 and 23 at Overture Hall.  Tickets start at $18; visit madisonopera.org for more information.

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