Zachary Ballard is currently singing in the 2014 Des Moines Metro Opera Apprentice Artist Program. There he is performing the 2nd Guard in Dead Man Walking and covering the lead, Joseph de Rocher. An avid performer and emerging operatic artist, Zachary most recently travelled across the state of Iowa as part of Des Moines Metro Opera’s outreach educational troupe, OPERA Iowa. There he sang the role of Don Giovanni Pig in The Three Little Pigs (Davies) and Belcore in Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love. In the summer of 2013, Zachary made his Boston Opera Collaborative debut covering and performing scenes as Dandini in Donizetti’s La Cenerentola. Other 2013 highlights include singing Papageno (Mozart, Die Zauberflöte) with the Manhattan Opera Studio and Junius (Britten, The Rape of Lucretia) as part of the Opera Brittenica inaugural season. Zachary is continually searching for enriching opportunities in the world of opera.
What was the audition process like for the Young Artist Program you are currently singing with?
I auditioned for Des Moines Metro Opera during the regular New York season. So, I used my YAP Tracker account to send in materials and book a time slot. I traveled to New York and sang my audition, which was for both the OPERA Iowa and DMMO programs. Because I indicated that I was interested and available for both contracts, I found out about my acceptance relatively soon after singing for the company.
How did you prepare for your experience? (Music memory, moving, etc.)
Taking on both contracts generally means about a six month commitment. Because of that, I had to relocate to Indianola, Iowa. We rehearsed for about three weeks before starting the school tour, so I showed up for the first contract nearly memorized. We knew about the season for the summer as well, so after I signed my second set of contracts I started learning choruses, small roles, and scene assignments.
What is your living situation like?
During the winter, I lived with one other person (a great guy and roommate) in an apartment. The educational tour involves a great deal of traveling, though, so I mostly lived out of hotel rooms. The summer is much different, as the company utilizes Simpson College’s campus and apprentices live in individual rooms with communal bathrooms.
What has the experience been like so far? (classes, rehearsal, etc)
The process has been very busy. DMMO’s season wraps up earlier than many other programs, so we are constantly moving. That’s exciting in a way, because there is always another performance to prepare. However, I have not been vocally challenged like this before. The same goes for the winter contract. We sang shows, generally two a day, all week long. That doesn’t include evening performances, weekend concerts, and a random bar sing or two.
Has anything about your experience surprised you?
I was surprised that everyone got along so well. My colleagues have been amazing. Not that I expected cattiness, but I did anticipate that we would be too busy to socialize. Not the case. I have made some great friends here and have felt very supported by all of them. I am also surprised to feel the need to rest. Usually singers seem to just move from gig to gig without rest, but I can surely say I need a break (at least a small one). I’m learning that pacing is much more active than I realized, and you need to be careful so you can plan accordingly.
How do you feel you have grown / are growing through this experience?
I have really started to figure out where my individual voice fits into the larger operatic spectrum by being here. Schools can only show you so much about where you will land after graduating, and having fresh takes on what I do has been truly educational.
What is the next step for your career?
I have a few things in the works, but until anything is set in stone, all I can say is I’m moving with my fiancé (not singing related) to Washington D.C. as soon as I leave Iowa. More auditions!