Liam Sings from the Wings
The Shepherd’s solo in Tosca is a hauntingly lovely melody sung offstage at the beginning of Act Three. We are fortunate this year to have 11-year-old Liam Brandfonbrener, son of violinist Kathleen Brauer and cellist Mark Brandfonbrener of the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra singing the role. His beautiful, clear voice is a joy to hear.
Here are a few questions answered by his proud mom, Katie.
MK: How did Liam get the job?
KB: Liam learned the Shepherd’s solo, and sent a video recorded audition. His voice teacher sent him a voice memo to help him with Italian pronunciation and I helped him learn the music. He had several lessons to perfect it before we recorded his audition.
MK: He already has quite a resume. Tell us what else he’s sung in?
KB: Liam was part of the children’s chorus for La Boheme and was the eleventh child in Poul Ruder’s The Thirteenth Child during the Santa Fe Opera’s 2019 season. He is also a member of the Chicago Children’s Choir.
MK: How does the offstage part work? Does he have a conductor and a monitor?
KB: Liam has a chaperone who waits with him in his dressing room and accompanies him backstage. Assistant conductor Stefano Sarzani watches Maestra Kim on a monitor and conducts Liam who sings into a standing microphone.
MK: How does it feel to be performing together?
KB: It’s a thrill for us to share performing music that we love with Liam! It is a challenge to concentrate on playing our instruments while he is singing, but he performed so well in rehearsals that we aren’t nervous for him.