Meet a Savoyard - NEGASS Interviews Bill Remmers

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If you attended the NEGASS Sing-Out on May 31 in Sudbury, you were in for a double treat.

Complementing our multi-talented local performers was William Remmers, a visitor from New York who dazzled the audience with his rich baritone, droll delivery, comedic timing, and general zaniness. At the NEGASS Sing-Out Bill practiced his stage magic as Sir Joseph Porter in H.M.S. Pinafore (this lucky writer was his Cousin Hebe), then as Florian in Princess Ida, and with no sign of fatigue, finished off the event as Reginald Bunthorne in Patience.

Bill is the founder and director of Utopia Opera, a New York City company dedicated to presenting opera as limitless entertainment enjoyable to all. Utopia Operapresents G & S and often less-performed operas, all in the original languages, with a professional cast of young as well as experienced singers.

The Trumpet Bray interviewed Bill recently to learn more about his background and what led him to become both an outstanding musician and an avid practitioner of the Gilbert & Sullivan canon. Bill started acting at the age of 3, and continued in theater and in rock bands through high school. He started listening to opera, was captivated, and soon had added singing to his acting and band playing. As he says, he jumped right in, started studying voice, continued to build his acting career, and also became quite proficient at conducting.

Bill wasn't raised with G & S, but while in high school he started listening to The Pirates of Penzance,loving the dialogue as much as the music and becoming a devotee of Arthur Sullivan. In three months he had gone through all 13 operas, and this enchantment led to his immersing himself not only in singing roles but in conducting. In fact, Pirateswas his first conducting job.

Bill founded Utopia Operain 2011, and it has shown steady growth. The company presents opera as entertainment for all, and G & S is a perfect serio-comic vehicle for drawing in a diverse audience.

The company got started with a Kickstarter campaign and continues with donations and ticket sales. Full operatic productions are accompanied by a 15 - 20 piece orchestra, smaller productions by a piano. Shows are performed at Hunter College's Lang Recital Hall, at New York University, and at the NY Gilbert & Sullivan Society.

Bill has enjoyed his two Sing-Outs with NEGASS (2011 and 2014) and would like to continue the collaboration. See what Utopia Operais up to at www.utopiaopera.org (give their Facebook icon a "like"). Even better, take a trip to NYC to enjoy Utopia Opera for G & S and other shows.

-Martha Birnbaum

The Trumpet Bray Interviews Bill Remmers