Two minutes with James Benjamin Rodgers

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New York-based Tenor James Benjamin Rodgers is wrapping almost three months in New Zealand for Carmen, playing the second-in-command smuggler Le Remendado. James won’t be gone for long, heading back to our shores for our final mainstage production for 2017, Kátya Kabanová.

What’s been your highlight from this season of Carmen?

Singing the Quintet, perhaps the greatest ensemble in all of opera. It never loses its edge and the smugglers: James Harrison, Kristin Darragh and Amelia Berry, have become dear friends this season so that has made it even more fun.

You’re based in New York, but back with us in September for Kátya Kabanová; how do you balance home life with your international singing career?

My wife and I are both musicians so we understand the need for travel. When you think about it, travel is one of the few negative aspects of getting paid to sing so I guess I just deal with it. No kids yet though so that simplifies the equation a lot.

Is this your first time performing in Kátya Kabanová?

Yes and I am very excited to explore what I see as an extremely text driven piece. It is a play set to music rather than an opera in the traditional sense. That idea appeals to me. 

Can you tell us a little about your character Vanya?

Váňa Kudrjáš, as the Czechs write his name, (try finding those symbols on your English keyboard...), is in many ways the voice of reason. He reminds us that the hysteria and bad behaviour that surrounds the other characters is avoidable. Kudrjáš puts analytical thought ahead of emotional reaction or convention. He's rare in the world of opera in that regard. 

What’s your dream role?

Let's go for roles. Picking one is way too difficult. In no particular order: 

1. George in Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George: The ultimate personification of the artist's dilemma. 

2. Peter Grimes: The ultimate outsider set by Britten. Enough said.

3. Roméo in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette: The ultimate lover with a score that drips with romantic ideals. Starcrossed on a lot of levels.

Jet planes or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?

Definitely jet planes. Peanut butter with Chocolate? An American tradition that I simply cannot stomach.


Find out more about Kátya Kabanová.