Dallas — Baritone Jonathan Beyer will make a much-anticipated recital appearance as part of the Voces Intimae gala Sunday afternoon. It will take place in the Faye Briggs’ mansion and will feature some excellent food for a reception afterwards. This is an organization dedicated to presenting song recitals in the Dallas area, using outstanding locally based singers and pianists. It is experiencing a Phoenix-like rebirth in the last couple of years and is well on its way to becoming one of the stars in the Dallas classical music scene.
Even though he is still young, Beyer is enjoying a major career on the international opera circuit and his future is bright. One critic called his voice “…robust and handsome” and that brief description fits Beyer himself. He is one of the Barihunks (an infamous website featuring baritone opera singers who are, well, hunks).
A conversation with him is a delightful experience because his bubbly personality and obvious joy in talking about music in infectious. By the time you say goodbye, your day has brightened. Such was the case recently when I was able to speak with him about his appearance on Sunday.
Beyer’s appearance for the gala ups the ante somewhat in that he is not local, as is usual for Voces, but is a singer who is building a fine international reputation. In fact, he will remain here after the recital to sing the leading baritone role Marcello in The Dallas Opera’s production of La bohéme. This worked out for Voces because he was able to plan to be here a few days earlier to make this appearance, arriving from Fort Lauderdale, where he sang Guillermo Cosi in Mozart’s Cosí fan tutte.
“It looks like I will have missed winter altogether,” he says referring to hops from Florida to Texas.
He will also be able to attend an important family event. His sister, Morgan Barry, and her husband John, live in Grapevine and the first child of the next generation was born in late December. Beyer will be here to stand as Godfather in-between his appearances.
“It is not easy to schedule things around an opera singer’s calendar,” he says. “I sing roles in countries all around the world and a quick trip to Dallas from the Middle East, for example, is a long trek that takes days.”
His program for the Gala is a little more adventurous that for most of the recitals he performs.
“I will have a fine pianist in Keith Chambers [assistant conductor for Dallas Opera] and I am told that the private home where this will be held as a great piano,” he says. “Because of that combination, I can program some songs that I couldn’t usually do.”
He is referring to three songs by Jean Sibelius that will open the program.
“Even though they are in Swedish, the audience usually has no problem following them with my brief introduction,” he says. “The remainder of the program, except for two songs by Charles Griffes that are in German, is in English. I like to make a connection with the audience and involve them in the story of the song.”
One set of songs that he will perform is something he assembled.
“I call it my ‘lonely song cycle’,” he says. “I picked a group of songs that are connected by their text and the subject matter if being lonely. I guess I was feeling that way, being constantly on the road.”
The cycle starts out with “Lonesome Man” by Paul Bowles, from his Blue Mountain Ballads based on poems of Tennessee Williams, and ends with the Gershwin brothers hit from the 1926 show Oh Kay!, “Someone to Watch Over Me.”
“I like to include music from Broadway shows and other popular sources in recitals,” he said. “These are songs as well and are an important part of our heritage.”
He is also a big fan of adding some informality to song recitals.
“These can be such stuffy events,” he says with a laugh. “There have been times when I was bored even though the performance was excellent because it was all so ‘correct’ because the singer never quite engaged with the audience. Recitals are a chance to get to know the person as well as the singer.”
Getting to know Beyer is certainly not a “stuffy experience,” that is for sure. This Voces Intimae appearance is a good opportunity to do just that.