Q & A with Edward Parks
By: Jennifer Colgan
GRAMMY® Award-winning baritone Edward Parks makes his Opera Colorado debut this winter as the iconic Jack Torrance in Moravec and Campbell’s The Shining, on stage at the Ellie starting February 26. Along with being a prolific performer of both new and classic works, this talented artist, who was destined for the stage from a young age, wears other hats as family man and craftsman. Get to know Ed, and be sure to see his performance in The Shining!
WHAT WAS YOUR INTRODUCTION TO OPERA?
I started taking voice lessons at the age of eight and had opera in mind from the very beginning. I had a Pavarotti CD that I listened to over and over again—I just loved it. My first opera was La bohème at the Metropolitan Opera when I was fourteen years old. I remember sitting there saying, “I will sing on that stage one day.” Later, while I was in the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Met, I sang Schaunard in that very same Zeffirelli production. Dreams can come true!
HOW DID YOU SPEND YOUR TIME DURING THE COVID-19 SHUT-DOWN? WHAT DID YOU MISS MOST ABOUT PERFORMING, AND HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE BACK ON STAGE?
The best part of quarantine was spending so much time with my family. I have a young daughter, and it has been a blessing to spend so much time with her and my wife. I did a lot of leatherworking and woodworking. I started selling my leather goods online and tackled a few building projects.
I missed the performances. I missed making new friends and spending time with old ones. I missed making music. It feels wonderful to be able to go back to work.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY JACK TORRANCE? HOW DO YOU PREPARE TO PORTRAY AN ICONIC CHARACTER THAT IS ENGRAINED INTO OUR CULTURAL PSYCHE?
I cannot wait to sing Jack Torrance. I have loved the novel and the movie my whole life. I had a huge poster of Jack Nicholson (with his face coming through the door) on my wall in college. In terms of preparation, I like to scrape away all the surface things we know and that we see and try to find the root of the human. He is a man. He is a husband. He is a father. He is a recovering alcoholic. He has real-life demons. I love that the opera is more like the book because he is more of a human being in the book. He’s not possessed from the start. He has a real arc as a character.
I love challenges, and I’m really looking forward to the intensity of this role and production. I cannot wait to create a safe environment with our cast so things can get as crazy as they need to be in those intensely dramatic moments.
YOU WORKED WITH MARK CAMPBELL BEFORE FOR THE (R)EVOLUTION OF STEVE JOBS. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT WORKING WITH HIM?
Let me just say first and foremost that I LOVE MARK CAMPBELL. He and I have worked together many times. Mark makes my job a lot easier. I never have to sit and think, “why is my character saying this? Why does this scene not work? He always paints a beautiful picture with his words. I feel like the highlight of my career is working with artists like Mark.
TELL US ABOUT THE OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES THAT COME WITH PERFORMING NEW OPERAS.
Performing new works has become something I do a lot of. If you had asked me ten years ago if I would be mainly singing contemporary opera, I would have called you crazy, but I love it. I love that I have the consistent opportunity to make something my own. Yes, it is much harder to learn. Yes, sometimes the music is wild, but I truly love it and feel honored every time I have the chance to work on new music.
YOU ARE ALSO AN AVID WOODWORKER AND LEATHER CRAFTER. WHAT PARALLELS CAN YOU DRAW BETWEEN MASTERING THOSE ARTFORMS AND THE ART FORM OF SINGING?
These things are all crafts. When you start out, you are not very good at it. I like to think of myself as a craftsman. I love to challenge myself to do things I have never done before. I like to look at a space and think, “this would be so much more functional with some built-ins,” and then figure out how to make them. It takes time. It takes fortitude, just like being an opera singer.
If you loved getting to know Ed in this post, you will love seeing him perform live and in person! Tickets for Opera Colorado’s February/March production of Moravec & Campbell’s The Shining are on sale now>>
What else would you like to know about Ed? Which parts of The Shining are you most looking forward to?