By Kelsi Moore, marketing director for Opera Columbus
Darren Templeton is a Columbus-based opera singer who has performed with Opera Columbus on the Ohio Theatre stage and throughout our vibrant Columbus community. He’ll be performing March 1-2, 2024 in Eugene Onegin presented by Opera Columbus, Columbus Symphony and CAPA.
Kelsi: What is your artistic background?
Darren: My mother was a voice major in college, and she was also my high school music teacher and early elementary piano teacher. I gained a keen interest in classical music, specifically oratorios, in my eighth grade year after hearing my first Messiah live. I was hooked. I listened to Messiah over and over on a cassette I had bought in 1985. After several months I had memorized all four vocal parts of the entire work and then memorized the entire basso continuo. I continued to sing male soprano before my voice changed then majored in voice in undergrad.
After undergrad, I taught music/voice in elementary, junior high and high school for about five years. I felt a call though to serve my country in the military and wanted to join. So I first joined the Army National Guard, serving six years as a forward observer; then I joined the United States Marine Corps directly after 9/11. I served with the Marines for almost five years as a military policeman. I then had the itch to go back into music and work to pursue my true passion of singing opera. However, I was offered a chance to serve as a logistics officer with the U.S. Army and I took it. I ended up serving another 16 years and retired as a major after 27 total years in the military.
Within the first year of retirement, I desired to finally pursue my passion for singing. I applied to The Ohio State University’s Master of Arts in vocal performance and was accepted in August 2022 where I will graduate this coming May 2024.
Kelsi: What has been your favorite performance experience in Columbus?
Darren: I would have to say that is a tough one as I am so grateful and humbled to be able to have wonderful unique opportunities this soon in my studies at OSU. But if I had to pick one, I would pick the performance I was in with Opera Columbus in Rigoletto last year, March 2023. Opera Columbus took a chance on me as a graduate student in the role of Count Ceprano in their production of Rigoletto. Singing with the most incredible, professional artists was unbelievably unique and life-changing.
To be sure, I took every opportunity I could get to learn and observe my fellow artists during rehearsals, role preparation and performance practices. I will never forget it. Of course, in a close second, I would pick the Columbus Crew military appreciation night’s national anthem performance opportunity I was granted to sing this past spring. What a true honor to represent Opera Columbus, our city, the team and our country.
Kelsi: What is your artistic process?
Darren: I learned different techniques and ways of preparing for a concert, recital and opera performances. There are many ways that one can and should prepare and have in their tool kit. I am still learning what works, but some things I have been successful in are not new or life-changing but simply involve hard work and doing the down and dirty research into what you are singing about. If it’s an opera, I really like to do a concurrent deep dive and research the time period in which the opera is set, the political/ artistic climate, who wrote it and why.
Kelsi: Who or what inspires you?
Darren: My wife and my parents truly inspire me. My wife has served in the military for over 31 years and is on active duty as a lieutenant colonel. Through extreme challenges in her young military career to today, she perseveres through everything, maintaining a strong mind, rises to any situation and serving tirelessly. My parents have always been inspirational to me. As a child growing up, watching dad work for IBM through the week and then come home and spend all weekend outside working in the yard and the woods to provide a beautiful 10 acres for myself and my four other brothers, was awe-inspiring. Mom and Dad worked tirelessly and selflessly year after year for us. I took that character trait into adulthood and am profoundly grateful for the role models they are.
Kelsi: What is your favorite restaurant in Columbus?
Darren: Firebirds in northeast Columbus. Love their seafood and steak meals!
Kelsi: What is the best thing about the art scene in Columbus right now?
Darren: It is the opportunities that many professional musical and artistic organizations afford young and emerging artistic talent. Not all major cities do this — champion their own artists — but I have seen Columbus invest in artists, like me. I am so incredibly grateful for that!
See Darren Templeton in action March 1-2, 2024 at the Ohio Theatre in Eugene Onegin presented by Opera Columbus, Columbus Symphony and CAPA. Tickets start at only $10. For more information, please visit OperaColumbus.org/Eugene.
This article is part of a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council as part of the Art Makes Columbus campaign. Explore a calendar of events, public art database and artist stories at columbusmakesart.com. To learn more about GCAC grants visit gcac.org.