Patrick Blackwell has always wanted to sing. His mother was an avid opera-goer and Blackwell grew up in the shadow of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. His passion for singing led him to Duke Ellington School of the Arts and later Julliard. As a professional singer, he’s traveled the world performing and in recent years has made a home for himself at LA Opera.
On May 6, Patrick Blackwell stars as Noah in Benjamin Britten’s Noah’s Flood. As part of our Cathedral Project and presented at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Noah’s Flood brings together opera professionals with members of the Los Angeles community for an opera experience unlike any other. This is Blackwell’s first time performing an opera at the Cathedral and it’s an experience the bass-baritone is looking forward to.
“Yesterday, I had my first staging rehearsal with all the kids. It’s very rewarding to work with them and my wonderful counterpart, Milena Kitic,” says Blackwell, who also worked with Kitic in last season’s Madame Butterfly.
Noah’s Flood tells the Biblical story of Noah, who builds an ark for his family after God warns him that he will destroy sinful man and all living things (sparing Noah’s family).
When asked what he enjoys most about Noah’s Flood, Blackwell cites the ensemble nature of the piece and working with Maestro Conlon.
“It’s called Noah’s Flood, but the piece is really about community. We’re a big happy family and we all get to tell a great story,” says Blackwell.
On working with Maestro Conlon, Blackwell says, “It is always a great privilege, because I learn something new each time. What he does with the orchestra is amazing and he is truly one of the world’s great conductors.”
This is not the first time Blackwell has worked with Conlon; nor is it their first Britten opera together.
Blackwell made his LA Opera in 2014 as Lieutenant Ratcliffe in Billy Budd, which Maestro Conlon conducted. The whole experience felt surreal to Blackwell, who recalls that he jumped out of his chair, when he received an email saying he was cast in the production. It’s an experience that he will cherish forever, particularly because the production was director by Francesca Zambello.
Following his debut, Blackwell returned as a member of the Ghost Quartet in The Ghosts of Versailles (2015) for which he would later win a Grammy; the Imperial Commissioner in Madame Butterfly (2016); Aye in Akhnaten (2016); and the Second Soldier in Salome (2017).
While Blackwell has loved all of experiences at LA Opera, Akhnaten holds a special place in his heart.
“The music from Akhnaten lives with me daily – and I’ll tell you why. Phelim McDermott,” says Blackwell. “Working with Phelim was great, because he made everyone feel so special, regardless of your background or how many leading roles you’ve done. Everyone was special. I will never forget that, because you don’t always feel that way in productions. Phelim is a director who allows you to create art and that is truly remarkable.”
In addition to productions in Los Angeles, Blackwell has sung around the world from Ecuador to Russia. After finishing Noah’s Flood, he’ll travel to Bari, Italy to star as Porgy in Porgy and Bess. It’s an exciting time for Blackwell, whose passion for opera has only grown over the years and the bass-baritone is truly living his dream. But, he’s not done yet.
To learn more about and reserve tickets for Noah’s Flood, click here.LA Opera is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the greater good.