Artist Interview Series: Tobias Greenhalgh

Jet Setting Star Stops to Sing in Cville:

This year you perform in Germany, Austria, England, Hong Kong, and Brazil!  How do you deal with all the traveling and are you looking forward to coming to Charlottesville?

This season allows me to see many beautiful places in the world and I am traveling now more than I ever have before in my life. In fact, I believe that I travel intercontinentally about 12 times, with countless other domestic flights and train rides mixed in. In all honesty I find all of this traveling to be very challenging both physically and mentally. The most difficult part for me is that my sleeping pattern is constantly being disturbed, and because of this I’ve been forced to develop an extra-keen awareness for my sleeping rhythm. I've been lucky so far in terms of staying healthy, and have been able to manage my travels somewhat gracefully. With all of the difficulties aside, it is exhilarating to see so much of the world in such a short period of time. My life becomes more enriched with every new experience that I have, and it is an absolute pleasure to meet and work with such a variety of artists from all over the world.

 Franz Lehár Festival in Bad Ischl

 Franz Lehár Festival in Bad Ischl

Do you think of Jud as the 'bad guy' of Oklahoma!, or is he simply misunderstood'?

I never like to identify a character in labels. Every person has a reason for being the way they are. Every person has thoughts, emotions, needs, and desires. Figuring out exactly who Jud is underneath his gloomy and intimidating exterior will lead to a much more interesting experience for the audience and myself. Sometimes the ‘bad guy’ can be the most complex and riveting character in a piece. A good example of a ‘bad guy’ who fascinates me would be Daniel Day Lewis’ character in the film “There Will Be Blood”.

You perform operetta and Gilbert and Sullivan -- do you see similarities with the American musical?

There are definitely striking similarities between the two. Operetta is all about the timing, charm, wit, and it requires the performer to use their body to actively tell the story, and all of this goes for the American musical as well. Going back in history and looking at the progression from Operetta in Austria to England, and then seeing how it somehow transformed into the American musical fascinates me and shows just how connected these two performing styles are. More and more each day I am starting to see opera, operetta, and musicals all on the same playing field in my mind. Obviously each piece has its own voice and has varying requirements from the performers, but my approach and technique towards each role that I take on is virtually the same: lots of practice, lots of research, and hopefully growing a deep passion for the piece. I recently found out that Puccini had a large portrait of Lehar hanging in his home in Lucca and this blew my mind. The fact that the greatest Verismo composer of all time envied and adored one of the greatest Operetta composers of all time taught me that music is a language, and no matter what style a singer is performing, it is all related.

You went to Juilliard -- is it as rough and competitive as rumors have it?

 I spent 6 years at Juilliard and had a wide range of experiences during my time there. First and foremost, I wouldn’t have the career nor the lifestyle that I currently have had it not been for the education that I received at Juilliard. I learned an insurmountable amount about music, acting, business, and life in general (moving to NYC at age 18 makes you grow up fast!). Any amount of competition or harshness that I experienced there is nothing compared to what I sometimes experience in the real world, so I actually appreciate the pressure that I experienced as a student. Overall, it prepared me in every way for this career and I feel confident walking into most working situations. I would say that the best thing I gained from Juilliard is the ability to transition between various musical styles deftly, since there are such a wide variety of specialists on faculty. Today I feel equally at home in musicals as I do with contemporary music and Bel Canto. I love it all!