Ten Questions with Ron Daniels

Ten Questions with
Ron Daniels
Stage Director of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird










1.  Where were you born / raised? 
I was born and raised in a little town across the bay from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  The apartment we lived in was literally across the road from the beach and in the distance we could always see the Sugar Loaf standing guard over the entrance to the Bay and the magnificent statue of Christ.  As a boy I always longed to be across the Bay, in Rio…  and maybe that accounts for my loving the life of a director.

2.  If you weren’t a stage director, what profession would you be in?
Next time around, I’m going to be a dancer with the Nederlands Dans Theatre.

3.  The first opera I ever directed was…
Il Re Pastore, which isn’t really an opera.  I thought, “Opera is impossible.  It’s far too difficult.  Music and drama don’t match.”  Fortunately I then went to work on Madama Butterfly and it all made wonderful sense!  Every musical event was tied to the narrative.  What a relief.

4.  My favorite opera is…
…the next one I’m working on.  Right now, it’s Lucia di Lammermoor, which happens next summer in Santa Fe.

5.  My favorite pre-show / post-show meal is…
I’ll have black beans and rice anytime, preferably sprinkled with toasted manioc meal.  It’s my “there, there” food.  You know, when you’re feeling low or insecure and someone puts their comforting arm around you and says, “there, there!”

6.  People would be surprised to know that
…that, with my pukka Royal Shakespeare company British accent, English wasn’t my first language.  We spoke Portuguese at home, of course.  It’s a good conversation piece, though:  I always start with “Three guesses where I’m from…”  Not surprisingly, so far no one has got it right. 

7.  A few of my favorite books are
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.

8.  I like to binge-watch…
Detective / crime series on TV.  I saw all of The Night Of in two sittings.  Couldn’t get enough of it.

9.  What four people (living or deceased) would you like to invite for a dinner party?
I’m not all that into dinner parties.  I prefer to dine one on one.  But then I’m quite happy eating alone, or with my kids and grandkids when I’m in the UK.

10.  Everyone should see Charlie Parker’s Yardbird because….
The music is wonderful.  The singers are fantastic.  And because Charlie Parker was not only a musical genius, a jazz icon, but also because it gives us an insight into a truly fascinating and complex human being.

Bonus:  One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer):
Q:  What makes you tick?
A:  I wish I knew.

Don’t miss the chance to see Ron’s production of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, the Midwest premiere of this acclaimed new opera about the legendary saxophone player.  Performances are February 10 and 12 in the Capitol Theater.  Tickets start at $25; visit madisonopera.org for more information.

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