“Some of this music, especially this late Romantic music … just crashes over you in waves. There's something quite special, something unique to that art form. I just had to be a part of it.”
If you go
› What: Chattanooga Symphony & Opera Pops Series, “Seth Carico: Chattanooga’s Own.”
› When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 5.
› Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.
› Admission: $21-$83.
› Phone: 423-267-8583.
› Artist website: sethcarico.com.
The first time Seth Carico was exposed to operatic singing during a Chattanooga Symphony & Opera performance of Ruggero Leoncavallo's "Pagliacci," it resonated with him to an almost overwhelming degree.
Then 17, he'd spent almost a decade singing musical theater and in choral organizations around Chattanooga, but something about the music he heard that night at the Tivoli Theatre left him staggered and newly obsessed.
"All the sudden, I saw this art form where I could act with my voice in a way I had never experienced before," recalls Carico, now 34. "Making that much sound with the human voice, without a microphone, over an orchestra, in these hyper-emotional situations was so powerful; it just hit me in the chest.
"I was so moved by it as an audience member in a way that I had never been moved in a theater before. I said, 'I want to be on the other side of that. I want to move people in the same way that I've been moved.'"
Soon thereafter, Carico left Chattanooga to study music at Middle Tennessee State University. Four years in, he took a semester off to be a studio artist with the Nashville Opera. His life since then has been a globetrotting whirlwind, a musical epic fitting for a bass-baritone whose bread and butter is the bombastic works of composers such as Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss.
After earning one of three coveted scholarships through the New York-based Opera Foundation, Carico studied with the Teatro Regio Torino in Turin, Italy, and with the Deutsche Oper Berlin. He is finishing up his sixth season with the latter and recently signed a three-year extended contract. In addition to his work with the German company, he has performed as a guest vocalist with operas in San Francisco, New York City, Fort Worth and Hamburg, Germany.
On Saturday, March 5, he will be the guest artist for the CSO's "Seth Carico: Chattanooga's Own" Pops concert. The performance took shape after Carico reached out to CSO conductor Kayoko Dan about potentially appearing as a guest vocalist.
"I was hoping to maybe sing as one of the soloists in a cantata or some other piece, but then all the sudden they wanted to do a night with just me. I was like, 'OK,'" he laughs.
The performance will be split into two acts. The first will feature performances of arias from some of Carico's favorite and best-known operatic works, including Wagner's "Tannhäuser," Georges Bizet's "Carmen," Wolfgang von Mozart's "Don Giovanni" and Gaetano Donizetti's "Elixir of Love." The second half will include a selection of Broadway works from "The King and I," "Camelot," "Carousel" and "Kiss Me, Kate."
Despite his many high-profile performances and critical praise, Carico says he's eager to finally perform on the stage where his love of opera took root.
"I'm really excited about it," he says. "There will be people I haven't seen in years who will be there. I've never sung as a soloist on that stage, ever, so it's pretty exciting.
Contact Casey Phillips at email@example.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.