From when he was a young boy, Steven LaBrie has been fascinated by classical music and singing. It was an opera field trip in 5th grade that drew him to the stage. Now, Steven travels the world with his gift, bringing beauty and humanity to the characters he plays.
How has your experience in life shaped your artistry?
Something that I’ve learned in my life is that anytime I’ve tried to be someone who I’m not, I’ve been limited in my success. However, when I am truly my individual self, that’s when I’ve been able to grow as a person and as an artist.
To which destination would you travel just for fun? Why?
I travel quite a bit to Mexico for fun to see family and friends. I have a big connection there and try to visit a couple of times a year. I’m lucky that there is a lot of traveling to beautiful places built into my career, so I have the opportunity to see many places.
How has a daily routine shaped who you’ve become?
My daily routine is really important to me. A couple of things that I’ve discovered about myself is that I feel centered and grounded if I exercise and practice. So I try to find a gym wherever I am and make it part of my routine. It also gives me a reason to get out of the house every day where I am working and meet people. Since I’m generally learning a new role or piece of music, I try to also fit in a couple of hours of practice and study in the day so I feel accomplished. Those are the two things that help me to feel at home wherever I am in the world.
What do you do off the stage that provides inspiration on stage?
Off stage I try to find time to enjoy where I am and find the things that make me happy. I’m in a really happy relationship with a person whom I love and cherish. I make sure to see the places where I’m visiting and make friends with people that I meet there. I love traveling and the feeling of freedom - the feeling that I don’t have roots set anywhere and I’m able to go wherever life takes me.
If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be? Why?
The one thing that I would change in life is that I would speak Spanish fluently. My mother is from Mexico and when we were growing up, we only spoke Spanish in the house until my brother started school, then we switched. Although I would consider myself very functional in Spanish and I have a lot of friends and relationships only in Spanish, it doesn’t have the fluency and ease and lack of errors that I wish it did!
What was your most positive surprise in life?
I have always struggled with change, ever since I was little. But as I get more experienced in life, I am realizing that change, although uncomfortable, is a time for growth, both personally and professionally, and I’m learning to welcome it.
Where do you derive happiness?
I have always derived happiness from singing, ever since I was little. When I was growing up I was bullied a lot in school and I didn’t have many friends. So I would come home and sing for hours. I still enjoy sitting in the practice room and working on music for hours. I also derive happiness from my relationship and from relationships I have with friends, and from constantly staying active.
Where do you want to be in five or 10 years from now?
I have always had big dreams to make it big as a singer. It had been my passion ever since I went to see La Bohème at Dallas Opera in 5th grade. So in 10 years, I would like to be singing at a high level with great companies and great colleagues. It’s what I’ve been working toward and I will continue to do so!
What cause do you support and why?
Three years ago, I decided to reconnect with my Mexican roots by visiting Monterrey, Mexico, for the first time in many years. Part of that trip was to stay with my grandparents for a month to rekindle our relationship since I hadn’t seen them in many years. And the other part was to visit my cousin in a boys’ home where she lives and works. It’s called El Rancho del Rey. There are about 25 boys ages 7-14. When I got there, the youngest boy on the Rancho was so eager to learn to read that I gave him reading lessons every day. At this point, he’s like a little brother to me and I try to visit a couple times a year. I’m actually visiting right now as I write this! My goal is to make enough money to be able to help the Rancho not just by having a relationship with them, but also by being able to give money to help sustain them and their needs.
What projects are you working on right now?
I just finished my debut with Florida Grand Opera singing Riolobo in Florencia en el Amazonas. After I get back to New York, I have a CD release concert with two fellow baritones released by Roven Records at Carnegie Hall, and then I’ll be singing Alphonse in La Favorita with New Amsterdam Opera. Next season, I’ll be singing Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia in Tulsa, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore with Opera Omaha and Charlie Parker in Three Decembers in San Diego.
What was the inspiration behind your latest project?
I just finished up with Florida Grand Opera singing Riolobo in Florencia en el Amazonas. It was truly one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. The score is so beautiful and the music is magic. It also makes me feel proud of my Mexican heritage to have been able to sing an opera by a Mexican composer in Spanish. When I heard that FGO was doing this opera, I knew that I really wanted that role. So I sang for them and they cast me! The role of Riolobo was truly one of the most dynamic characters I’ve ever had the opportunity to portray, and people really loved the show. Opera, to me, is about telling stories through music. It’s about beauty and humanity. And people should experience that.
What’s the one thing you want people to remember about your artistry?
As an artist, I study my character and I always try to bring a human element to each one. I work on technique so I can portray the character and bring it to life. I always want there to be meaning behind the words and my voice.
Where do you come up with your best ideas that you might end up applying to a score?
I generally come up with my best ideas while I’m lying in bed during the rehearsal process. I just start thinking of things to try out the next time we work on a scene.
Name three musicians who have inspired your own artistry.
George London and Leonard Warren were the first opera singers I ever heard in recording. Javier Solis is my favorite bolero singer.
Business of Music
What is your #1 piece of advice to artists who are starting their careers as professional musicians?
My number one piece of advice would be to be yourself, know what you like and what you think is good, and find your voice.
What steps need to be taken in many parts of the world to offer high-quality music education to children?
When I was in elementary school, we went on a field trip to the Dallas Opera to see La Bohème in 5th grade and I fell in love with it. It was my first exposure to classical music. I think it is important for young people to have exposure to classical music and the arts in general.
How do you run your professional career as a business?
Part of owning my own business is being self-motivated to work on constantly improving my craft, constantly pursuing performing opportunities, and knowing who I am and what I want. I have a small team of people from whom I seek advice. This is mainly because I know what I want and what fulfills me in my career, and I don’t want to stray from my objectives.