Music Issue: Teaching, singing complete this artist

By Corinne Ton That
April 18, 2013

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Editor’s note: As the Juno Awards 2013 prepare to celebrate the best of Canadian music this weekend, Western Journalism students help us celebrate the best in Western Music. Read the full Music Issue.

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Throughout his operatic career, baritone Todd Wieczorek has had his fair share of wardrobe malfunctions. But his most embarrassing experience was during a high school summer theatre production when he split his pants while doing what he calls a “spread eagle.”

“It was what it was,” Wieczorek said. “A very exposing event.”

Today, the 37-year-old Wieczorek teaches Vocal Music and Italian Diction at Western, while continuing to work as a professional opera singer.


“I don’t think I would feel complete as an artist if I didn’t have both in my world,” he said.

At 19, through the direction of professors at Wheaton College, a small liberal arts college in Illinois, Wieczorek discovered a hidden talent for operatic singing.

“Everyone can learn how to sing, but not everybody can be an opera singer just like not everybody can break the world record in the 100 meter dash,” Wieczorek said.

Compared to other opera singers, Wieczorek came to the world of classical music quite late.

With music from the Rolling Stones Kiss, and Air Supply playing in the house when he was growing up in South Bend, Ind., Wieczorek was only seriously exposed to opera during his second year of undergraduate studies – but he immediately found something in the art form that resonated with him.

“Even though the music itself, people think of as being antiquated, the emotions and feelings are timeless,” Wieczorek said. “I found that the music really spoke to me on a different level than the popular music of the time when I went to undergrad.”

And it’s relating these emotions and feelings to an audience that brings Wieczorek pleasure – and a sense of fulfillment – as a performer.

“Performing is really a reciprocal event,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a hall of 10 people or a few thousand. It’s the receptive audience – the audience that is engaged in the performance as much as I am, that’s important.”

In his career, Wieczorek has played a variety of roles in both classical and modern operas – including Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Puccini’s Tosca, Adamo’s Little Women and Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge, to name a few. And he’s performed with several different companies, such as the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Brampton Lyric Opera, and Ente Concerti Citta di Iglesias in Italy.

But his favourite characters to play have been Don Giovanni and Leporello, both from Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

And it’s clear, just from talking to Wieczorek for a few minutes about opera, that his true passion is music.

“My biggest fear is not being able to share the joy that can come from making music – whether it be performing or whether it be through teaching and inspiring students to perform,” he said.


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