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Brophy Roundup

The Student News Site of Brophy College Preparatory

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Alum headlines world opera premiere

Armando Contreras ‘10 performing in a production of “The Old Man and the Sea.” Contreras graduated from Brophy in 2010 and began his professional opera career thereafter.

Through conversation and prayer, Armando Contreras ’10  has constantly asked himself, “Is my singing worth all this sacrifice?” He always answers, “Absolutely. This is my calling.”

Contreras, a former member of the Brophy Honors Chorale, starred in the world premiere of “The Old Man and the Sea,” an opera based on the famous Hemingway novel, at ASU Gammage on Nov. 4. 

Contreras, who holds a degree in vocal performance,was originally the understudy for the role. But after famous baritone Nathan Gunn was unable to perform, he was offered the part. “The Old Man in the Sea” was produced by Beth Morrison Company, one of the industry’s leading producers of contemporary opera. 

Contreras’s love for opera came from some of the early opera performances that he did as a young child with the Phoenix Boys Choir.

“I was a kid and we did La Boheme by Puccin and just as a child on stage, I fell in love with it,” said Contreras. “There were no microphones… and I just thought that was the most exciting sound I’d ever heard.” 

However, Contreras said that much of his knowledge about vocal performance came from his time as a member of Brophy’s Honor Chorale. 

“I think my time at Brophy choir really enhanced everything,” Contreras said. “[It] gave me the confidence to sing. We definitely had a particular swagger in that Honor Choir. We were pretty freaking good. It was really fun to be part of that group.”

The Honors Chorale was led by Mr. Paul Olson, Brophy’s longtime choir director, who is notable for expanding the program. 

“[Paul Olson] ran his chorus rehearsals really professionally,” said Contreras. “Yes, we were in high school, but we also were learning things that I am able to translate now into my professional singing.”

Contreras also said that being a part of a high school choir program helped him develop his ability to work collaboratively. 

“I think at Brophy, not only with choir, but I think just as a community, we’re really not a community of conflict,” said Contreras. “It really is a brotherhood and it really is a great place to learn how to work with people, and that’s so important, not only in opera but in any collaborative job.”

Working with and caring for others has been key to Contreras’s professional success. 

“You can be as talented as you want, but if you’re hard to work with you’re not going to get hired again. It doesn’t matter how good you are. At a certain point in the professional world, everyone’s good,” said Contreras. “So what sets you apart? It’s really [your] attitude, the spirit of kindness and being a man for others.”

The emotional side of opera is one that Contreras believes many opera singers ignore, but one that is central to the performance.

“I really just try to be a vessel and give as much emotion as I can on stage because opera is big…there’s a lot of stuff going on and if you neglect that acting side, you’re really missing a lot of it,” said Contreras.

Contreras now teaches at the University of Northern Colorado in addition to his career in opera. When asked about any advice he would give to aspiring artists, he echoed one statement: “go for it.”

“If you have the itch to be an artist, nothing can stop you,” said Contreras. “I would rather be working at Express 24/7 if it meant that I had a chance to continue in the arts.”

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Jack Kyle
Jack Kyle, Print Managing Editor
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David Robaina, Opinions Editor
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