Richard Ollarsaba, Bass-Baritone
Photo by Kristen Hoebermann
For the month of September, Operapolitan would like to turn the spotlight onto magnificent
bass-baritone, Richard Ollarsaba. Richard has been described as a "meltingly smooth bass-baritone" and has performed throughout the United States from the Lyric Opera of Chicago, to Tulsa Opera, and Minnesota Opera (just to name a few!) His accolades and voice speak for themselves... so, let's enjoy getting to know more about the man that makes the singer!
Operapolitan: What do you do for fun?
Richard: As is the territory when you’re frequently on the road for work, I get a chance to see and get to know a lot of new places. I’m a big fan of local coffee shops and love taking walking tours of cities.
What is your favorite food?
Being that my ethnic background is Mexican-American, I just love good Mom & Pop style Mexican joints.
What is your favorite holiday?
I. LOVE. THANKSGIVING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Favorite TV Series?
I’m a perpetual kid at heart and I have not stopped watching cartoons. Some my faves being: Avatar - The Last Airbender, Avatar - Legend of Korra, and Steven Universe. (Is my nerd showing?) Live action would have to be Twin Peaks and Stranger Things.
Again the Nerd in me comes out. I’m a huge fan of The Dark Crystal, The Fifth Element, and Cloud Atlas.
What is your dream vacation?
I love going to places that have a lot of history engrained in them. There’s one place I have yet to visit and would love to explore, and that is Ireland.
If your life were a movie, what would the title be?
“Hyphen: bridging the gap between Bass and Baritone”
That’s a hard one. Probably a toss up between Puccini and Verdi. Honestly, any composer who has the capabilities of capturing ‘the human experience’ and translating it into music is my favorite.
I’ve always had a lot of love for “O nube! che lieve…Nella pace del mesto riposo” from Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda. (Listen to this aria here, performed by Joan Sutherland)
Robert Ward’s The Crucible.
Favorite Opera Singer?
I’ve always been a real admirer of Mirella Freni.
What is the greatest advice you have ever received?
I had always heard that it’s hard to juggle a home life with work. The longer I spend in this line of business and the more people I have met and gotten to know along the way, I noticed there’s only one real way to successfully accomplish both a work and home life; “the only way to ‘make it work’ is to Make It Work.” If you want it bad enough you can make it work. Of course, everyone’s version of ‘making it work’ looks different and is particular onto them.
What are three things you cannot be without when traveling to a gig?
WiFi, Coffee, and Peanut Butter
Do you have any pre-performance traditions or superstitions?
I would say that I don’t have any real pre-performance routines or superstitions, but I am a strong believer in casually coffee-ing up before a show and during intermissions.
It was a joy for Operapolitan to learn more about Richard and we hope you enjoyed it too!
One thing is for sure ...If drinking coffee, and eating peanut butter, in any way, contribute to such wonderful artistry...we are stocking up.
To learn more about Richard Ollarsaba, visit the artist's website: RichardOllarsaba.com
Richard Ollarsaba with Rebecca Claborn
Wolf Trap Opera - L'opera seria by Gassmann
Photo by: Scott Suchman
Richard Ollarsaba, Bass-baritone
Praised by The Washington Post for his “meltingly smooth bass-baritone” and for “evoking a young Ruggero Raimondi in looks and manner”, bass-baritone Richard Ollarsaba was a member of the prestigious Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago for three seasons and a grand finalist in the 2013 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He returns to Minnesota Opera in his role debut as Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro in the 2017-2018 season. He also debuts with Virginia Opera as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor and returns to Intermountain Opera as Pistola in Falstaff. Future seasons include a debut with Dallas Opera. Last season included a return to Wolf Trap Opera where he scored a triumph as Asdrubale in Rossini’s La Pietra del Paragone in addition to performances as Angelotti in Tosca and as Luciano in Musto’s Bastianello. Last season he returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago for Carmen, Les Troyens, Lucia di Lammermoor, covered Timur in Tuandot with Opera Philadelphia and sang in concert with the Apollo Chorus of Chicago and the Madison Bach Musicians.
While at the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, his tenure included productions of La Traviata, Capriccio, Anna Bolena, Tosca, The Passenger, Otello, Madama Butterfly, La Cenerentola, La Clemenza di Tito, Tannhäuser, Parsifal and the title role in Don Giovanni, stepping into the iconic part with a few hours’ notice. Other operatic engagements include Escamillo in Carmen with Minnesota Opera, Tulsa Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago (cover) ; Fallito in Gassmann’s L’Opera Seria with Wolf Trap Opera; the title role in Don Giovanni with Intermountain Opera; Timur in Turandot and Rochefort in Anna Bolena with Minnesota Opera; Antonio in Le Nozze di Figaro with Opera Cleveland; Ferrando in Il Trovaotre with North Carolina Opera and Reverend John Hale in Ward’s The Crucible with Piedmont Opera.
In addition to performances on the operatic stage, Mr. Ollarsaba appears regularly in concert and recital. He has been the bass soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Kansas City Symphony as well as in Bach’s St. John’s Passion with the Madison Bach Musicians, Bernstein’s Songfest at the Ravinia Festival, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Macon Symphony Orchestra, Verdi’s Requiem with the Salisbury Symphony and Beethoven’s Choral Fantsasy in his debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood. That concert was a gala celebration of the venerable festival’s 75th birthday and was telecast nationally on PBS.
A native of Tempe, Arizona, Richard Ollarsaba received his Bachelor of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music and his Master of Music and post-graduate certificate from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. In addition to the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, he trained at the Music Academy of the West, Chautauqua Opera, Aspen Music Festival, Tanglewood and Wolf Trap Opera.