Studio Spotlight: Q&A With Harry Greenleaf - Michigan Opera Theatre

Studio Spotlight: Q&A With Harry Greenleaf

Harry Greenleaf, baritone

Our Studio Spotlight series continues, showcasing our resident baritone, Harry Greenleaf! Harry is a native of Wixom and is excited to perform in his home state! He recently performed Marullo in MOT’s “Rigoletto.” He has also performed with MOT as Le Bret in David DiChiera’s “Cyrano” and as Top in “The Tender Land.” See him this season as Leo Stein in “27” and as Sciarrone in “Tosca”!

Q: What is your favorite opera and why?

A: My favorite opera is “La fanciulla del West” (“Girl of the Golden West”) by Puccini. I have been in it twice, singing in the chorus at Des Moines Metro Opera and singing Jake Wallace here in Detroit last season. It’s a very fun show for the chorus men to be a part of, playing gambling, drinking, and gun-wielding miners in the California Gold Rush. I think that the music for the opera is very touching and exciting, especially the scene in Act 3 when the miners are chasing the bandit, Dick Johnson, through the hills. I cannot help but smile when the French Horns come in! The three lead roles, Minnie, Dick Johnson, and Jack Rance, all have sufficient moments to show their vocal prowess, while singing great lines of music. The story is a stereotypical Western drama, which I think actually gives more of a complete plot than many other operas.

Q: What has been your favorite performance experience?

A: My favorite performance experience was performing the role of Anthony Hope in “Sweeney Todd” at New Orleans Opera last season. It was my first time reprising a role, and luckily, I was well suited for it. Anthony Hope is an easy sell for audiences, his number “Johanna” is usually a memorable part of the show. The main reason for enjoying the performance was the cast. The production featured mostly the same cast from the production I did with the Glimmerglass Festival. Because of this, we were able to start rehearsals with a high level of comfortability built in, which is so important in a dialogue heavy show. Combined with the new friendly faces filling smaller roles, there was a great bond in the cast and a lot of love in the rehearsal room. The entire experience from start to finish was one I’ll treasure.

Q: What is your dream role?

A: My dream role is Billy Budd in “Billy Budd.” I conveniently fit Herman Melville’s description of the character pretty well, and I very much enjoy the music of Benjamin Britten. I’ll have to stay away from American Coney Island and Buddy’s Pizza though if I want to be considered for the role some day!

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

A: I am very much looking forward to the stability that MOT will provide me. I am still in the middle of my training, and MOT gives me professional and technical guidance. Continuing to appear on the main stage and getting to observe and work with the seasoned professionals which pass through will continue to help me learn and grow.

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

A: I grew up in Wixom, so I have a first-hand knowledge of the difficulties and growth that the city has faced over the last two decades. Being at the center of the resurgence of culture downtown for a few years is a real treat. We are lucky to have four major sports franchises downtown, with MSU and U of M providing extra entertainment as well. I can’t wait to catch Tigers games and to see the new Pizzarena.

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

A: I wanted to either be a play-by-play radio announcer for the Detroit Tigers, or a World War II historian.

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

A: I spent two years as a bouncer while I was finishing my studies at Michigan State University, working at two different bars.

Biographical Information

  • Voice Type: Baritone
  • Age: 26
  • Hometown: Wixom, MI
  • Training: Bachelor of Music from Michigan State University; Master of Music from University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music; Glimmerglass Festival Young Artist; Des Moines Metro Opera Apprentice Artist Wolf Trap Opera Studio Artist
  • Past Roles: 
    • Marullo, Rigoletto, Michigan Opera Theatre 2017
    • Le Bret, Cyrano (David DiChiera)Michigan Opera Theatre 2017
    • Anthony Hope, Sweeney Todd, New Orleans Opera 2017
    • Top, The Tender Land, Michigan Opera Theatre 2016
    • Anthony Hope, Sweeney Todd, The Glimmerglass Festival 2016
    • Danilo, The Merry Widow, Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music 2015
    • The Pilot, The Little Prince, Cincinnati Chamber Opera 2015
    • Papageno, The Magic Flute, Michigan State University 2014
  • Current/Future Roles: 
    • Leo Stein, 27, Michigan Opera Theatre 2018
    • Sciarrone, Tosca, Michigan Opera Theatre 2018

Supported by a major grant from the William Davidson Foundation, the MOT Studio is a resident artist training program focused on supporting the next generation of opera singers. For more information, visit Michigan Opera Theatre Studio.