By Jesse Drake
Opera is a subjective experience. What touches one person deeply – the utopianism of "Fidelio," fatalism of "Carmen," Rodolfo and Mimi's bittersweet reconciliation in "La Boheme" – may carry little resonance for another.
What all opera lovers have in common is, well, the moment they fell in love.
For Nelson Leduc, software engineer in UIT's University Support Services' HR/Auxiliary Team, that moment came at age 33. He was considering auditioning for a local opera and figured, “I ought to go and see what I’m getting into."
Leduc sat in the very back row of the balcony. When the curtains rose on Puccini’s "Gianni Schicchi," he was transfixed.
“I knew immediately, ‘Oh yeah, I want to do this,’” Leduc said. “It’s everything – it’s the music, it’s the acting, it’s the costumes, it’s the sets – everything. It’s the only art form I’m aware of that you can have five people on stage singing totally different things and it still makes sense. And I wanted to be part of it.”
In early March, Leduc took the stage in the ensemble of Gaetano Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor" for the fourth time. The gothic tragedy was also the first Utah Opera production he joined, in 1988.
“I love it. The music is just phenomenal, sends chills down your spine,” said Leduc, whose vocal range is bass baritone, sometimes second tenor.
Though he's had several short solo parts in operas, Leduc enjoys the ensemble. A soft-spoken man, it suits him.
Growing up outside of Detroit, Michigan, Leduc’s parents exposed him to the arts, taking him to summer concerts and filling the house with music. They had a few choice operas, but their primary passion was classical music.
“One of my earliest memories is standing in front of my dad’s Hi-Fi speaker that was taller than I was, [Mussorgsky’s] Night on Bald Mountain blasting at full volume,” he said.
Music appreciation led to picking up the clarinet at age 7, which he played until braces forced him to abandon the instrument. But braces led to the acoustic and bass guitars, which served him well later in life. In 1977, he played bass guitar with Wasatch Front, a band he described as “a thinking man’s Deep Purple.” He currently plays bass in the country-rock band Red Rock Country that plays a few free gigs each summer at Cherry Hill Water Park in Kaysville.
In addition to Utah Opera, Leduc has been a member of a community choir in Bountiful, joined the chorus for professional productions of Mozart's "Requiem," and this past fall, lent his talents to a U student-produced opera because, he joked, "they needed a token old guy.”
Leduc has been backup vocalist for bands he's played with, but admits he had poor technique until his attention shifted to opera.
"It's never too late to improve musically," he said. "Something else I enjoy about the classical/opera world is that you audition, but you don’t have to find people to sing with or organize the practice."
Leduc's music education continues, thanks in part to a $500 staff scholarship that he applied for and received with prompting from USS colleagues Jennifer Aldrich and Jan Lovett, both members of the U's Staff Council. The money is being applied to tuition for a second bachelor’s degree in music composition.
Leduc's other hobbies include travel – he's visited all 50 states – and landscape/architecture photography.