Meet the Artist: Andrew Stenson of The Italian Straw Hat
We are so happy to have tenor Andrew Stenson making his company debut as Fadinard, a groom-to-be who spends his wedding day on the hunt for a special chapeau in Nino Rota’s The Italian Straw Hat. The Rochester, Minnesota native recently sat down with us to talk about Fadinard, falling in love with opera at the Ordway, and the excitement of performing for his hometown crowd.
MN Opera: Describe Fadinard in 3 words.
Andrew Stenson: Determined, clever, and lucky.
MNOp: What are some of the joys and challenges of performing this role?
AS: There is some gorgeous Italianate writing, but a LOT of text in addition to the fact that Fadinard is on stage for most of the show. Fortunately, I love this kind of challenge and I would always prefer to be busy than bored!
MNOp: When did you first fall in love with opera?
AS: I love telling this story! The first opera I ever saw was Carmen at MN Opera my freshman year of undergrad. I had wanted to be a music therapist, but plans changed during my first year. (Turns out I’m a terrible psychology student.) My voice professor, Karen Kanakis, suggested I go see an opera and that I should strongly consider a career in voice. I remember being totally enamored by the gorgeous music and the insane drama and I thought to myself, “This is the coolest thing I have ever seen; I have to do this,” and the rest is history!
MNOp: What’s the best advice you received as a young singer?
AS: Everything you do should be in service of storytelling.
MNOp: What’s the strangest or most surprising thing that has happened to you during a performance?
AS: When I was in Nordic Choir at Luther College, we were doing a concert in Nauvoo, Illinois, and singing this animated piece with a lot of stomping, which managed to wake up a bat in the little theater. We could all see it circling above our conductor until it zoomed towards us and you could see everyone in the middle of the choir freak out mid-performance as it got close.
MNOp: Are you ready for January in the Twin Cities? Is there anything you’re excited to see or do?
AS: Since I’m from Minnesota, I love Minnesota winters and I’m thrilled to be home for a whole host of reasons! Many of my friends and family live in the area and I’m excited to not only spend more time with them, but also perform for them. My parents are probably more excited than I am that I’ll be performing in Minnesota and they’ve been gathering the troops. As far as I know, there is a large contingent coming up from my hometown of Rochester!
The Italian Straw Hat trots across the Ordway stage for 5 performances, January 26-February 3. Get your tickets today at mnopera.org/straw-hat.