Take me out to the opera: Three quick hits with Sun Prairie’s Kyle Ketelsen

Spring training is in full swing for the acclaimed globe-trotting opera singer. Here are his next three roles.
Bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen kneels next to a woman in a bed on stage as part of his role as Golaud in a 2019 show.
Photo by Karen Almond, courtesy of Kyle Ketelsen.
Kyle Ketelsen as Golaud in 2019, a role he will take on again in Spain this spring.

At home, Kyle Ketelsen is best known as “Rebecca’s husband.” But in opera houses worldwide, Sun Prairie’s own bass-baritone is acclaimed for his resonant voice and the plum roles his talent has earned him. On the road seven to eight months each year, Ketelsen trains both physically and vocally to maintain his stamina and energy on stage for increasingly demanding and appreciative audiences. Ketelsen is starting 2022 strong with three favorite roles, each of which he already has hit out of the park multiple times in seasons past.

March 22-26: Prince Golaud in Debussy’s Pelleas et Melisande, Teatro de la Maestranza, Sevilla, Spain
“This is Debussy’s only opera and I think my most favorite role in the entire operatic canon,” Ketelsen says. “I play a maniac who kills his own brother when he finds out the woman he rescued is in love with his brother and not him. This is a high baritone role for me. There are bits of music you like to sing because you think you sound good doing so, and this role is full of those moments for me. And all the while I am like a beast stalking its prey on stage.”

May 20-21: Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen in Concert, Teatro Monumental, Madrid, Spain
“I’ve performed this role more than any other, but Escamillo only has 15 to 20 minutes of stage time,” Ketelsen explains. “I walk on stage at the beginning of Act II singing ‘The Toreador’s Song,’ probably the best-known opera melody anywhere — so the pressure is on from the start. He’s a star bullfighter and walks with a sort of pelvis-forward strut that as an Iowa boy I originally found difficult. It’s all about posing and preening, but I’ve found ways to add a little more character to the role.”

June 3-15: Don Giovanni in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, the Wiener Staatsoper, Vienna, Austria
“This is a revival of the show I performed in December, so I know the character and director,” Ketelsen says. “The Don is an amalgam of Casanova and Don Quixote. He can be cruel, funny or distant, and there are no great arias the character performs. He is not a sympathetic character and gets punished in the end, but the role is fun to sing.”

Challenges notwithstanding, Ketelsen expects to have a winning season.

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