Cody Austin looks, as one critic noted, like he should be shrugging off a helmet heading to the sidelines of a high school football game. With no disrespect to his athletic qualities, this Texan left home to make a career based on his vocals rather than his brawn.
Austin makes a stop in Sun Valley on Saturday, Dec. 28, for a concert at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church en route to his debut with the Utah Opera as Alfredo in “La traviata,” throughout January.
His professional debut was with the Opera Company of Philadelphia as Roderigo in “Othello” in 2009, where he was invited to return the following season to perform Edmondo in “Manon Lescaut.”
Also in Philadelphia, he performed Tassilo in “Countess Maritza” with the Concert Operetta Theater and was featured as tenor soloist with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops in a program entitled “The Great American Tenor” in 2010.
He was awarded second place in the Dallas Opera Competition, received the Ralph Appelman Award for Vocal Promise, a Mario Lanza Scholarship, the Alfonso Cavaliere Memorial Scholarship, and the Arthur E. Walters Memorial Award.
He fielded a few questions from the Idaho Mountain Express prior to the show.
IME: How old were you when you became a tenor. Did you ever have a high voice?
I was a baritone in college and switched to tenor when I was in grad school, so I was about 23 years old.
How did you choose to follow the opera path?
I had an opera workshop professor who introduced me to the idea of singing opera professionally. As a class, we went to see “Rigoletto” at Dallas Opera and I was amazed by the vocal talent.
What is the biggest surprise for audiences tackling opera today?
I think audiences are surprised that the storylines written over 100 years ago are still relevant today.
A recent mini-doc on New York Ballet explained a very rigorous vetting with very tight and tiny movements up the ladder to a bit more stable career. Is there a hierarchy for rising up in the opera world? If so, where are you in this?
There is a difficult ladder to climb to reach a stable career in opera. Singers need to maintain their technique and stay healthy. Others can be easily weeded out. I am still climbing that ladder!
How did you decide what to record for the CD?
I thought about songs audiences would enjoy and also my favorite songs to sing.
Have you left yourself any time to tour the West?
I hope to hit the slopes for some snowboarding!
Cody Austin performs
When: Saturday, Dec. 28, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Our Lady of Snows Catholic Church, Sun Valley.
Tickets: $35, by calling Sun Valley Opera at 726-0991.