Joshua Guerrero didn’t grow up dreaming of a career in opera, and his path towards opera stardom is anything but ordinary. He always loved singing. Yet, it was only after Guerrero joined a choir at the seminary where he studied theology that his opera journey began. After a few years of singing lounge/crooner music (which included a stint as a gondolier on the Las Vegas strip and abroad in Macau), Guerrero moved to Los Angeles to pursue music full-time, enrolling at UCLA. His passion for opera and skilled tenor voice eventually landed him a place in the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program at LA Opera, where he made his mainstage debut as Normanno in Lucia di Lammermoor, soon followed by a return as Steve Hubbell in A Streetcar Named Desire. Guerrero also went on to place second in Plácido Domingo’s worldwide Operalia competition and tackle the important role of Count Almaviva in the west coast premiere of The Ghosts of Versailles.
This Saturday, the charismatic young tenor will make his role debut as Greenhorn, one of the leading characters in Moby-Dick.
Here’s our Joshua Guerrero edition of Questions.
What do you enjoy most about performing opera?
I perform in hopes of providing a vulnerable and honest message that can heal the audience member from whatever is ailing them. They are leaving their reality after all, wanting to take in a new world that will leave an impression on them. It’s kind of like being a modern showman. This is particularly true of opera, because it’s the ultimate combination of all the arts.
Tell us about Greenhorn.
The book begins with “Call me Ishmael,” while the opera ends with it. Greenhorn is Ishmael, but you don’t see this until the end. Throughout the opera, you see what made Ishmael, Ishmael.
What do you think motivates him?
His friendship with Queequeg. Their relationship is the heart of the opera.
What’s a moment in the opera that really defines their friendship?
At the top of Act Two, Greenhorn and Queequeg are manning the mastheads and see a storm approach. They sing about their friendship and how they will explore the world together. It’s a really emotionally insightful moment.
What do you hope people take away from the opera?
I hope they leave with a desire to read the book. It’s phenomenal.