Meet the Student: Q&A with Bass Morgan-Andrew King

Māori bass Morgan-Andrew King, from Waikato, New Zealand, stars as the Parson, Badger, and Harašta in Curtis Opera Theatre’s innovative new production of Leoš Janáček’s operatic masterpiece, The Cunning Little Vixen, May 3 and 5 at the Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center. He entered the Curtis Institute of Music in 2023 and studies in the opera program with Jack Li Vigni. All students at Curtis receive merit-based, full-tuition scholarships, and Mr. King is the Margaret Aull Wynne and Milly E. Wynne Fellow.

 


 

What inspired you to pursue a career in classical music and opera?
My singing journey is rooted in my indigenous Māori culture and history in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Singing has been a constant part of my life, especially within the traditional customs, protocols, and events of Māori culture. These cultural and daily practices have led me to grasp hold of my own cultural values and stories, enabling me to share these stories with the next generation. These experiences led me to opera, where I could not only use my voice to communicate stories of a country’s history and stories but also share my own Māori history and stories. I felt confidence in other Māori opera singers, such as Inia Te Wiata and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, to pursue this path, and so I hope to inspire the next generation of Māori singers to pursue this pathway so that they may use their voice to share their own, and the people’s stories.

Tell us about the characters you play in the opera. What have been the most rewarding and/or challenging aspects of learning these roles and Janáček’s opera?
In Janàček’s opera, I play the characters Badger, Parson, and Harašta. The Badger is shown as ‘greedy,’ with him acting against the Vixen. However, nature has its karma on the Badger, with the Vixen then kicking out the Badger and living in his home. The Parson remembers the struggle of being good and passionate as he recounts his youth to the Vixen. He expresses to us that despite his hardships and life, one must ‘always remember to be a good person.’ Harašta, on the other hand, sings inspired folk tunes from Czech culture. Although robust, he is the one to take the life of the Vixen. Within this act, Harašta shows the audience how precious life is by how suddenly it can end. Overall, through Janáček’s opera, I was able to explore the idea of how precious life is and how one can live to be good.

Watch a clip of Mr. King performing the role of Jay in the world premiere of composer Marco A. Jimenez and librettist John de los Santos’ opera A Manic Proposal with the Mostly Modern Opera Orchestra at the Arthur Zankel Music Center at Skidmore College on June 18, 2023. 

How did you hear about Curtis, and what excites you the most about continuing your vocal studies here?
Being at Curtis has allowed me to explore my own voice and to hone my technical and musical skills needed to pursue a career in opera. I was honored to meet Giacchino Li Vigni, a well-renowned bel canto teacher who sits on the vocal faculty at Curtis. With his expertise, the vocal faculty, and the resources from Curtis, I was able to gain a position in the Frankfurt Opera Studio. I am very excited to start this position after the academic year as I become one of the first Māori graduates from Curtis.

Photo credits: Headshot of Morgan-Andrew King courtesy of the artist. Performance image of Mr. King courtesy of the Otago Daily Times; Gerard O’Brien. Curtis Opera Theatre’s Les Mamelles de Tirésias (L-R): Kylie Kreucher, Nathan Schludecker (Le Directeur), Hongrui Ren (Monsieur Lacouf), Morgan-Andrew King (Monsieur Presto), Gabiel Feldt, and Evan Gray (Le Gendarme); Ashley E. Smith/Wide Eyed Studios.

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