CMC hosts some opera
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Keith Miller makes his job sound downright macho. He can be a demon. He can be a god. It just depends on the day.
“The stuff that is presented in opera is so powerful,” he said.
What, you didn’t have him pegged as an operatic singer?
Breaking the stereotypes of his musical genre is part of what Miller’s career is about these days. With his deeper than deep voice and his history of playing professional football, he might not be the person you’d expect to be singing the songs of Verdi, Mozart and Handel. Maybe that’s part of his draw.
Tonight, the bass will be performing a mixture of duets and solos alongside baritone and friend Ross Benoliel. While both men are passionate about their work, it seems as though neither planned on this kind of life.
As Benoliel put it, “It’s always a new experience.”
A piano player since he was a kid, he realized as he became older that he didn’t want to stay stuck behind an instrument eight hours a day. Singing, on the other hand, is much more immediate. Now 31, he’s been performing operatically since he was 19.
“It’s all very personal, because it’s raw emotion, and that’s why I like it,” he said.
He thinks opera’s fundamentals are actually quite personal. At its core, it’s storytelling, talking about basic, human ideas like love and death and betrayal. While people might be nervous about listening to something in another language, Benoliel feels that’s seldom actually a problem. The themes are too relatable for that.
“We’ll make it accessible,” he promised. “I think that’s the most important part of our jobs.”
It’s after a good performance, when he’s standing in front of an involved, happy, clapping audience that he feels he’s part of something remarkable.
Miller knows that kind of experience well, and not just as a singer. It was after seeing a performance like that of “Phantom of the Opera” that he was first clued in to how impactful the musical form can be.
“It really just blew my mind,” he said, “What I saw, what I heard, what I felt.”
That was back in 1994, and he still had a career in football ahead of him. He played for five years internationally in places like Finland and was in the reserve leagues here in the States. Then, in 2002, when he was in his late 20s, he decided to make a career shift and went for music with all his might. Since going to school with Benoliel at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, he, like his buddy, has been involved in countless shows and recitals around the country. Currently, there are even several DVDs available showing his past performances.
And he takes none of this for granted.
“Every day has honestly been a surprise,” he admitted, adding, “I love what I do so much, and I know so many people have 9-5 jobs they can’t really stand.”
He goes into every show without an agenda or a plan, he explained. He just wants to give the best performance he can. Still, when it comes to his “lifelong joy” (as he calls it), he’d love for people to feel its full force. It’s one of the oldest forms of entertainment out there, and while he knows it’s not for everyone, when it grabs someone, it really does take hold. At their best, he and Benoliel can provide an audience a romantic reality to escape into.
“It’s our responsibility to give people a vacation from the world,” he said.
But no one knows what a great journey that can be until they embark on it.
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