Folks on Twitter know him as OperaCraig, someone who is universally regarded as a generous Twitter friend and supportive Retweeter. Who is this young, social-media savvy performer who could give lots of others lessons in the art of social networking and social graces? Why, none other than Craig Philip Price, bass-baritone, and today’s featured performer on “Operatoonity.”
Craig Philip Price holds a degree in voice from Furman University, and a master’s in voice from Manhattan School of Music, where he was a student of Neil Rosenshein. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree.
He made his professional debut as a Bonfils-Stanton apprentice artist with Central City Opera (CO) during the 2007 season, where he was seen as the First Minister in Massenet’s Cendrillon, and the Marquis in Verdi’s La Traviata. He has portrayed many other roles including Gideon March in Mark Adamo’s Little Women and Harlekin in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos, both with the Intermezzo Young Artist Program, as well as several appearances on the mainstage and in opera scenes with the Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater.
Craig has performed in over 200 school performances. Also an avid supporter of the creation and performance of new American music, Craig is pleased to have been active in Manhattan School of Music’s American Music Productions (AMP), as well as the Page to Stage program with Opera Index and American Opera Projects, which workshops pieces in development by American composers.
How would you describe your voice? Who have you been compared to or would like to be compared to? I’ve heard my voice described as being very clear and clean, and having a nice buzz too it. I agree with that description. My focus has always been to constantly seek to find the sound that is my most natural voice. I think the easier the production and the most organic sound possible is the best sound. Other bass-baritones whose voices I have admired and would be thrilled to be compared to are Jose van Dam and more recently, Luca Pisaroni.
You recently were cited in a competition. Tell us how you fared. I entered the American Prize competition in the Professional Art Song category. The competition is all based on a DVD of about 30 minutes of music that I submitted. I offered the video of a recital I gave this past summer at Ash Lawn Opera Festival, and I’ve been selected as a semi-finalist. The competition is on-going so over the next several months finalists and winners will be chosen. Keep your fingers crossed! I was very proud of that recital and I would be thrilled to be recognized further.
What were the highlights/challenges of being in the Kentucky Young Artists Program?
Being part of the Kentucky Opera Young Artist Program is probably one of the best experiences I’ve had so far. I got to sing some small roles and cover a role. I also got to meet and work alongside some really fantastic artists who are having great careers. It’s great to sit in the room and watch an artist such as Elizabeth Futral work, and then go grab a coffee with her after rehearsal and hear about her experience and how her career developed. Nothing can beat that. The challenge of that type of position is the hours of work. We worked 6 days a week and probably put in 8-10 hours a day many days. We’d often start the morning off performing for school children, have coachings and rehearsals in the afternoon, sing at a community event, and return for more rehearsal at night. There were a lot of very full days.
Favorite roles, performers, composers, or houses?
I got to cover Leporello this summer at Ash Lawn Opera, and that was a really great experience. My voice is very well suited to Mozart, and so I’ve spent a lot of time singing that in the past. I also love Carlisle Floyd. Singing Olin Blitch in Susannah would be a dream come true. I actually had the opportunity to work with Carlisle at Kentucky Opera and sing some of Blitch for him. That was absolutely a huge moment for me. As far as performers go, I love Luca Pisaroni, Erwin Schrott, Placido Domingo, Renee Fleming and Joyce DiDonato of the singers who are active now. My favorite singers of the past are Ezio Pinza, Leontyne Price, and Anna Moffo. I think Anna Moffo could sing the phone book brilliantly.
As far as houses, I love seeing things at the Metropolitan Opera. I’ve probably seen thirty or more productions in the house and even more in HD in the theater. It’s always magical to see. I’ve loved singing everywhere that I’ve had the opportunity to sing. I’ve been to so many wonderful places and met so many wonderful people through this career. I spent a summer at Central City Opera in Colorado and I think that has to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. I had a fantastic summer there. Of course, I love the folks at Kentucky Opera. The people working there are truly incredible.
When did you decided to pursue a doctorate in music?
The doctoral degree has always been something that has been in my mind that I sort of just wanted to achieve for myself. I would love to teach at a college or university one day, and having that DMA is a requirement to apply for most positions in higher education. I’ve spent the last little while applying and auditioning so we’ll see if that takes shape for me for next year.
You are a presence on social media. How much time do you invest and how has your social media involvement paid off? I really enjoy being active in social media. I think it’s a really remarkable thing that I’m learning more and more how to use to promote myself and my work. I have a Facebook page as well as a Twitter account for my opera life. I think it’s important to consider who your audience is on both. My Facebook followers tend to be people who have heard me perform and/or know me personally. For that reason, it’s a great way to keep people posted about what I’m doing. I do make those types of posts on Twitter also, but I also do a lot more posting of reviews, blogs, and other interesting arts related things that I come across there. I think it’s really valuable for artists to use, not only to promote themselves, but to learn from each other. There is so much that we can teach each other based on our own experiences, and I think that is the most valuable thing I’ve gotten out of that. It really is all about interaction. I think if you are just there promoting yourself and you don’t communicate with others you won’t get a lot out of it. I would also say keep your private life separate from career things. I have a Twitter account that just close friends follow that is more personal. I also have a separate Twitter and Facebook page for my private voice studio and special events singing. There I’m interacting with a completely different audience. I would say the initial investment of time was the biggest thing. Getting set up and getting established. At this point it’s just part of my life and I don’t invest a whole lot of concerted effort on it. I think I was probably on for a year or so before I really became a known and established presence though, so I’d advise giving it some time.
Where do you see yourself in five years? In ten years? That’s always such a challenging question. It’s really hard to plan very specifically in this career. It seems to have a lot to do with luck and being in the right place and the right time. I love performing and that’s something that I hope is always part of my life in some form. Whether it’s on a grand stage somewhere or something more locally, I know I’ll give it my best. I’m also a learner and teacher by nature. I’ll teach something to anyone who is willing to listen to me long enough! I would love to teach at a college or university. I’ve also thought a lot about opening up a music academy for young people. It would be wonderful if I could grow my studio and have it evolve into a whole academy. I was watching an interview that Oprah gave to Barbara Walters recently and she said that her prayer has always been, “use me til you use me up.” I thought that was such a wonderful way to think about things. I think if I am always trying to branch out and evolve that great things will happen. I just have to be willing to continue to work hard and be ready to accept the challenges as the doors open.
Do your personal hobbies complement your interest in opera performance or are you like a x-treme snowboarder or something? I don’t have a lot of spare time. I very often work seven days a week. I’m pretty mild-mannered though, nothing “x-treme.” I see a lot of movies and I read a good bit. I like going to concerts or art exhibits and going to dinner with friends. I’m a huge tennis fanatic and I also like to get out on the court as much as possible during the warmer seasons, and I have a cat who keeps my time occupied a lot at home.
What would you say to performers who aren’t clicked into social media regarding their careers, visibility? I would say they are missing out. Especially if you aren’t on Twitter. I think it’s a really fantastic learning tool. It’s also great for networking. I discovered Operatoonity via Twitter. I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve been able to have casual conversations with other professionals from the industry, where I’m aware of what various opera companies are producing, or what is going on in the “opera world” because I’ve seen posts about it on Twitter.
What would be your ideal way to make your living or your way in the world? I’d love to take home the Powerball or Mega Millions winning ticket. Then I could support causes and organizations that I find important and care about the most in the arts. I hope I won’t always work seven days a week, but I do see myself working a lot as long as I’m healthy and alive. I love to sing, but teaching will also be an integral part of my future, I am sure. I’ve also done some work on the production side of things too. I’d love to produce opera one day. I know times are tough for a lot of arts organizations right now, but it always seems that the best creativity comes out of hard times. I’m excited to see where things go with opera in America in the future, and finding my place in that world.
Anything else you’d care to tell readers about yourself? I would just tell your readers, especially those who are just coming out of school, to think outside of the box. I’ve created so many opportunities for myself to make money through music over the last year and a half, outside of performing with opera companies. I think the more entrepreneurial you can be, the better. I wish I had known what I know now a few years ago. My desire to increase my income using my education and skills, and my willingness to find an avenue and pursuing it has been the best thing to happen to me. Also if anyone wants to check me out online.