A Celebration of All Things Cultural, Artistic, and Entertaining in Madison
Feb 2, 2011
A New Role
Over the past twenty-five years, actor Jim DeVita’s played a lot of roles: Romeo, Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard II, Richard III. As he’s grown, so have his characters.
“If you’re in this business long enough, your roles will mirror your age,” he says, adding that he’s evolved from playing the angry young man to the leading man to the best friend of the leading man. “I’m now playing the best friend of the fathers.”
But the Long Island native, who’s best known to Madison audiences as a member of American Players Theatre for sixteen years, has been preparing for a new challenge: his opera debut.
Brian Hinrichs, the company’s manager of communications and outreach, describes the move as a natural fit for DeVita. “He is always taking risks and pushing himself, and the role of Macheath in The Threepenny Opera certainly falls into that category.”
The opera is a gritty drama that follows Macheath as he encounters thieves, beggars and prostitutes in Victorian London. The music is rooted in jazz and Viennese operetta traditions, and DeVita has been working with singing coaches all summer to prepare for the role.
“This is my singing debut,” he says. “I’m thrilled and it’s very challenging.”
DeVita says the songs are similar to a monologue or soliloquy, expressive moments between his character and the audience, and he’s been able to approach the role in the same way he has others: “It’s the story first and how does the character fit into that story?”
After performing outdoors for years with APT, DeVita knows he can rely on his powerful voice. But he’s hoping to learn from this first experience with Madison Opera and soak up everything he can along the way.
“If I’ve ever moved forward in my career, it’s because I’ve been around people who are better than me,” he says.
For more information on The Threepenny Opera, visit madisonopera.org.
After the production wraps, we’ll be checking in with DeVita to get his thoughts on his opera debut. Join us back here on Liberal Arts.
Photo—of Alicia Berneche as Polly, Jim DeVita as Macheath and Tracy Michelle Arnold as Jenny Diver—courtesy of Madison Opera.