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Cangelosi shares his love for opera

David Cangelosi discussses his part as the witch. Submitted Photo

Opera is an art form that spans all over the world. It’s enjoyed by many different cultures, and opera singers get to travel to share their love for the style. David Cangelosi is one such artist, having sung to crowds all around the world.

Cangelosi was born and raised in Cleveland, knowing that he was going to be a singer by the time he was 6 years old, having an obsession with the human voice that started when he was 5. He was fascinated that the human vocal chords could make so many different noises. He didn’t just enjoy opera music, he listened to other singers like Connie Francis, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. The ability to make the singing voice tuneful was another thing that was on Cangelosi’s mind.

He did prep work in his high school years at the Cleveland Institute of Music and went to Baldwin Wallace University for an undergraduate degree in musical study in classical voice. At Boston University, he continued his studies to gain a master’s degree.

He moved to New York after graduation, “as most people do,” he said. Cangelosi then lived in Paris for a few years and performed there. When asked why he would go to a place like Minot from Paris, he replied that not only was he sent here by the opera company, but he also enjoys being in a community so dedicated to music. “The places that are off the beaten path are where people are thirsty for the arts, so it’s great that we can bring it to them.”

His mentors were many: teachers, professors and fellow singers. He sometimes asked questions or asked if they could listen to him and give him any pointers about his performance. Often they would have words of wisdom for him to help him improve and become the famous singer he is now. The funnest part about his career, he said, is working with young singers, giving them tips about singing or occasionally about acting.

Western Plains Opera knew of his profile and also that he had played the part of the witch in “Hansel and Gretel” operas several times before. The witch was actually the last role on his long bucketlist of roles that he wanted to play. There were many vagueries that went with it, and most of the time, the witch is played by a woman. He has dressed in drag many times for the role, and is considering a costume with a skirt, colorful socks and tennis shoes for the Western Plains Opera production. It’s more of a contemporary piece to keep it fun and engaging for the modern audience.

The story of Hansel and Gretel was originally a verbal tale passed down through generations, and was published in writing in 1812 by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, who heard it from Wilhelm Grimm’s future wife Dortchen Wild. It was thought that the story first originated in the 1300s during one of the great famines. During the famine, parents sometimes had to abandon their children in order to survive, which makes the plays or operas very dark if they are aligned with the actual story.

Congelosi said that the roles in the “Hansel and Gretel” opera are more difficult, so they are played by adults, some of the cast being students at Minot State University and Magic City Campus. He likes to work with those younger singers to pass on his knowledge. “There’s a moral imperative that veterans of any industry have that dictates that they give to the next generation the best that they’ve learned. Not the invaluable things, but to give the next generation the best, most valuable things that you have learned so that as the house gets built, it’s built on a broader, deeper, solid foundation for them.” The students and young singers he works with will then be shouldered with the responsibility to pass down what they know about opera.

The role of the witch will be played by David Congelosi. Joanne Martinson Davis will be playing Gretel, who is a graduate of the Minot State University music program, and Hansel will be played by Kathryn Krasovec.

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