Out & About

April 10, 2014

From newspapers to bel canto

Husband/wife and father/son present opera program in Saranac Sunday

SARANAC  — Hill and Hollow Music and High Peaks Opera present bass-baritone George Cordes in an opera-inspired program Sunday at the Saranac United Methodist Church.

He will be accompanied by Jonathan Tortolano (cello), Elizabeth Cordes (piano) and William Tortolano (narrator and piano).

The first half of the program features works by Bach, Beethoven, Coleridge-Taylor, Adelson and Foss.

George has distinguished himself in comic and serious repertoire on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera House of Chicago and Houston Grand Opera to name a few.

His voice took many years of training, but his journey began with theater productions in Essex Junction, Vt.

“I got involved my junior and senior years and ended up doing lead in the senior show, which was ‘Bye Bye Birdie,’” George said. “I did the title role in that.”

He attended St. Michael’s College and majored in journalism.

“But I was very much involved in the music program as well,” George said. “William was the choral director while I was there. But then in college when I was working with Doc (William), he was introducing us to a lot of wonderful choral music. I did get the opportunity to do some solos with him.”

After college, George worked five years as a copy editor for the Arizona Republic in Phoenix.

“During that time, I got the bug to get back into singing,” he said. “The Arizona Opera was looking for choristers, people to boost their chorus there. I auditioned and got in. The one season I was with them, I started to sing some roles with them as well. I decided to go back to school to study voice and music.”

He consulted William, who recommended Iride Pilla at the Boston Conservatory.

“My first voice teacher and my kind of introduction to the whole world of opera in terms of my repertoire as a bass and bass-baritone, especially the Italian repertoire,” George said. “She was what you might consider a direct link for me to the bel canto school as she had been a singer herself, and had studied with some of the teachers and in turn worked with some of the singers of the great opera era.”

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