Studio Spotlight: Q&A With Brent Michael Smith

Our resident bass and Michigan native Brent Michael Smith gives us a glimpse into his life as an opera singer in this month’s Studio Spotlight. After a successful run as “Ashby” in our recent production of The Girl of the Golden West, Brent looks forward to concluding his Studio Artist residency as Le Marquis de Bresaille in our May production of Cyrano, composed by our very own founder, David DiChiera!

Q: What’s your favorite opera and why?

A: My favorite opera is, in fact, a show we are producing this spring at MOT: “The Girl of the Golden West”. The music is full of heartfelt beauty as well as luscious harmonies that overwhelm my emotions. The themes of homesickness and forgiveness are prevalent in this opera, which I believe are relatable to every person. What is more, it is full of joy and humor—feelings that we need more of in our world.

Q: What has been your favorite performance experience?BMS Blog

A: My favorite performance experience at MOT was our production of “The Passenger”. While my role was not large, I felt the incredible power of the work and how it impacted the audience as well as my fellow performers. The set was the most monumental I have ever worked with, and the cast was the largest I have encountered. It was all very inspiring to see how each character was an essential cog piece in the metaphorical clock that was the opera; we each added a specific element to the story thereby imbuing it with emotional strength and dramatic power.

Q: What is your dream role?

A: I have a few dream roles, among them are: King Philip in “Don Carlos” by Verdi, Maometto II in Rossini’s opera of the same name and Giorgio in “I Puritani” by Bellini.

Q: What’s been the best part about being in the Michigan Opera Theater Studio?

A: The best part about being in the MOT studio program has been performing on the great stage of the Detroit Opera House in every production. Many say that performing on stage in front of an audience is the best way to grow as an artist, and they are right. Each role, whether it is a large supporting role or a small comprimario role, has taught me pivotal things about my artistry.

Q: What’s the best part about living in Detroit?

A: I love being in Detroit. It is my favorite city in America. Being a native Michigander, it is such a joy seeing this city rise above its nadir and transform into a better place for all. It is a city filled with amazing things to do, places to eat and to drink. It also has some of the most gorgeous architecture of any city in the country. However, its greatest attribute is its people, who possess such strength and resilience. The people who have been here for a long time inspire me. They have weathered the storms and continued to contribute their time, talents and energy to making this city great. It is truly an honor to have lived here and to have made so many friends.

Q: If you weren’t an opera singer, what would you be?

A: If I were not an opera singer I would most likely be involved with city planning or development. I have such an obsession with all things development and city operations, especially ecosystems of neighborhoods and buildings.

Q: What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

A: One thing people would be surprised to know about me is that I love to read Agatha Christie novels. I have read nine in the past five months.

Michigan Opera Theatre Studio is a resident artist training program focused on supporting the next generation of opera singers. For more information, visit Michigan Opera Theatre Studio.