Craig Colclough is a bass-baritone of breathtaking sound, charisma and expression.
Interview: March 10, 2021
His exceptional artistry is just one of the reasons why we—and other opera companies around the world—love to have him on stage. Get to know the man behind the voice, and why this SoCal native was chosen as one of the first recipients of the Eva and Marc Stern Artist Award.
“The first time I realized that live performance was what I wanted to do for a career, I was in junior high. I came to a magnet school for the performing arts in Claremont to see their annual musical, which was The Secret Garden. It was incredible and so, so moving. It really transported me. It was my first time experiencing the magic of live performance. I immediately was like ‘That's what I'm going to do. That's what I'm going to be.’”
And in 2008, that’s exactly what he did.
“My relationship with Los Angeles Opera has been essential throughout my career. The first major production I was a part of was at LA Opera.”
He made his company debut as Guccio in our 2008 production of Gianni Schicchi. Craig’s distinctive bass-baritone made him a frequent face on our stage, with supporting roles in Madama Butterfly and Billy Budd. But one of his favorite memories is from his time on our 2009 production of The Barber of Seville.
"I played the police captain who comes in to break up the ruckus. I only sing maybe seven syllables, but I got to be on stage as Juan Diego Flórez sings an aria that most tenors can’t do. But of course, he’s doing it and sounds incredible. I remember thinking ‘I’d be so happy just doing this, singing my seven-syllable line and coming on stage to hear this incredible music. I could do this every week for the rest of my life and I’d be totally content.’”
After two seasons performing regularly on our stage, he joined Florida Grand Opera’s Young Artist Studio, and in 2012, became a Filene Young Artist at the Wolf Trap Opera Company.
Over the next few years, Craig started getting steady work on stages around the world. This included a few returns to LA Opera, including his first big role with the company: an updated version of The Marriage of Figaro’s Count in the 2015 Off Grand production of ¡Figaro! (90210).
In 2018, he found himself as an understudy for the title role of Falstaff at one of the world’s top houses: the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Another great friend of LA Opera, soprano Ana María Martínez, was appearing as Alice Ford (the main target of Falstaff’s desire). He remembers when she offered to stay behind to work with him during one of his cover rehearsals.
“I had a rehearsal immediately after hers. She just joined me and said, ‘I figured it would be easier if you had somebody to do it with.’ She’s this huge talent who took the time to be kind to me. That’s something I want to emulate. That is what makes this art form beneficial, both onstage for the audience and offstage for everybody who puts their heart and soul into it.’”
Over the years, Craig has definitely put his heart and soul into his work. He progressed to performing the title role of Falstaff in a new Christoph Waltz production in Belgium, the title role of Don Pasquale for Minnesota Opera, The Ring of Polykrates for Dallas Opera, Donner in Das Rheingold for Arizona Opera and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the LA Philharmonic. And in 2019, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut in the title role of Macbeth, opposite the fabulous Anna Netrebko.
To date, Craig has sung 11 roles at LA Opera, most recently as Monterone in Rigoletto and the Father in Hansel and Gretel. And he was all set to star as Figaro in the (postponed) June 2020 production of The Marriage of Figaro.
Fortunately, he’ll return to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in 2022 as a soloist in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and he can’t make his way here quick enough.
Even though opera has taken him around the world, Los Angeles (and LA Opera in particular) will always be his home. Winning the Eva and Marc Stern Artist Award only solidifies it.
“Having grown up in the suburbs and living in a very small town, the city of Los Angeles was this magical kingdom. I'd be on the 10 freeway driving into the city, and you turn a corner and suddenly the skyscrapers are just perfectly in front of you in the night sky with all their lights—it gave me butterflies every time.”
“Winning this award was not even something I knew could happen. So to say it's a fulfillment of my dream is not entirely true because it's a little beyond my dream. It's a little further than even I had hoped. I feel incredibly grateful, both for the people at the company who have put their faith in me and who have led me, and who have helped me get to this point.”