Aria choices for the Region Finals (subject to change)
1. Largo al factotum della citta - Il barbiere di Siviglia - Rossini
2. Silvio's aria - I pagliacci - Leoncavallo
3. Ja vas lyublyu - The queen of Spades - Tchaikovsky
4. Tanzlied - Die tote Stadt - Korngold
5. Avant de quitter ces lieux - Faust - Gounod
Opera Idols: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Takaoki Onishi: I'm from Tokyo, Japan. I graduated Musashino Music Academy in Tokyo and came to the US to continue my studies at the Juilliard school. I've done, among others, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte and Masetto in Don Giovanni.
OI: When did you know you wanted to become an opera singer? Are you from a musical family?
TO: My father was an engineer who worked for a long time in a big Japanese electric company, so nothing to do with music. But I inherited his Shokunin-damashii (craftsman spirit) which makes me strive for innovation and perfection as much as possible. I also used to play the tuba for 6 years which made me realize the beauty and possibility of music.
OI: How will you be preparing for the Regionals in the next few weeks? On the day of the auditions, do you have any rituals you follow?
TO: I will get back to NY from Japan five days before the Regionals (which is a 14-hour flight), so how to recover from that is the key for this time. I usually do some sit-ups before I go, but all I can do is go on stage and concentrate on the music.
OI: Do you have a favorite opera, aria or composer? Do you have any 'role models' in the opera world?
TO: Tough question. I love all the composers I sing, so it's very hard to pick one person or one piece. But I truly respect Mozart and Tchaikovsky for their dramaturgy, and I love Schubert and Brahms's intimacy.
OI: What would your dream role be?
TO: Don Carlo di Vargas in La forza del destino.
OI: What did the experience of participating in the auditions last year teach you? Did you change anything to your repertory or the way you auditioned?
TO: I used to sing bigger stuff (like Verdi, Verismo arias) and I learned that the more comfortable I sing, the more I can show. All my five reps now suit me very well, so that I can show more personality and sing naturally.
OI: Do you have any upcoming performances?