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SF Opera Man & Current Duke of Nottingham

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Andrew Manea as the Duke of Nottingham in Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux. Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

There are three different operas beginning in September & October, the season kicks off with  Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci this Friday night, Roberto Devereux on Saturday, and Tosca beginning in October 3rd.  Three powerful, romantic, and colorful rides to be sure, and the subject of our interview Andrew Manea is sharing scenes with Sondra Radvanovsky, who many consider the greatest opera singer in the world.

The SF Opera has a lot going on, along with the performances at the War Memorial Opera House, they are also putting on pop-up shows in different clubs in the city, where traditional opera singers perform in the modern club scene, where EDM meets aria in a fascinating fusion of old and new art forms.  If you’ve enjoyed the SF Symphony’s Sound Box series, you should definitely check out the SF Opera Lab parties, they’re like a gateway drug to traditional opera.

As part of our “Artist You Should Know” series, Stuart and I sat down with SF Opera’s Duke of Nottingham in Roberto Devereux this fall.  We asked him important things like what he sings in the shower, what it’s like to date an opera singer, and if he would sing some ACDC for us.  Now please take your seats, turn your phones to airplane mode and meet Andrew Manea, an artist you should know…

Andrew Manea as Marullo in Verdi’s Rigoletto, SF Opera. Photo Cory Weaver

Name: Andrew Gabriel Manea

Job Title: Opera singer (Professional screamer)

(BAS) What are you singing in the shower right now?
(AGM) The funny thing is when I go to auditions they always have signs saying, “No singing or vocalizing in the bathroom!” So, I’ve been conditioned to be scared of singing in the shower/bathroom!

You are listed as a baritone, what does that mean to a person who’s never seen an opera before?
I’m always either the bad guy, the dad, or the guy that loses the girl to the tenor.

The obvious follow-up question is, which is the best vocal range in opera?
I’m a bit biased, but it’s absolutely baritone. I get to sing some incredible repertoire, specifically works by my favorite, Giuseppe Verdi!

Favorite opera singer right now?
Right now, my favorite singer is Giorgio Zancanaro. There is a recording of him singing an aria called “Nemico della patria” from Andréa Chenier that is so SO good. He is the person I would play a recording of if people asked to hear what a real baritone is. He’s the vocal equivalent of a grizzly bear. #goals.

Favorite restaurant right now in SF?
There are too many to list! But I think it’s going to have to be El Farolito in the Mission. The Super Suiza Quesadilla is on point and costs a quarter the amount of anything else in SF!

What is your most favorite costume that you’ve worn onstage?
My costume from Rigoletto at San Francisco Opera last summer. I was Marullo and was dressed in leather from head to toe with a little hat and hot pink accents. It was the wardrobe department’s favorite costume as well!

Andrew Manea as Marullo with Quinn Kelsey as Rigoletto.  Photo Cory Weaver


On being a baritone – “I’m always either the bad guy, the dad, or the guy that loses the girl to the tenor.” 


How about your favorite costume you’ve worn offstage?
Definitely when I went as Richard Simmons for a Halloween party in Cincinnati. It was comfortable, and I welcomed everyone that came in with a dance screaming “Let’s dance those calories off!”

What’s the most annoying question you get about being an opera singer?
“Can you sing something right now?” I always respond by asking the person what they do professionally and ask them to do it for me right now. Usually gets my point across.
(*It should be noted that when Stuart and I sat down with Andrew, the 2nd thing we asked him was to sing something for us, here’s the little promo Andrew and SF Opera Stage Director Aria Umezawa filmed)

What’s tricky about dating an opera singer?
There are pros and cons. The pros definitely outweigh the cons in my situation. We are a unique bunch. It’s tough when you are constantly being judged as a singer. At auditions, at programs, on the stage, really everywhere. So, for someone to be able to handle you being in the limelight at times, as well as in the background when you’re starting out is huge. Plus, the distance can be tough. We go where the jobs are and not everyone can stay in the same place all the time. Luckily, my girlfriend is also an opera singer and we’ve made it work for almost 3 years now. I’m able to come home to her at the end of the day and vent with her knowing EXACTLY what I’m talking about. We nerd out to our favorite operas and symphonies together and she’s the one I go to for brutally honest vocal critique. She’s my toughest critic.

Opera Lab pop-ups are an operatic dance party combining opera and electronica, curated by Director Aria Umezawa and Bass Anthony Reed, and featuring performances by San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows alongside the Loves Company DJ crew. Here’s Andrew at Mezzanine Oct 12, 2017.

I first saw you perform at the Mezzanine at one of the Opera pop-ups you guys do at nightclubs in SF, it was a fun night. Some of my friends got to experience opera live for the first time, it seemed like a great gateway drug for those who may love music but may not have tried opera yet? Do you have fun performing at the Opera pop-ups?
They are so much fun. You said it super well – they are a fantastic gateway drug for newcomers. I know how important it is for the opera world to branch out and bridge the gap of old-time opera lovers and newer, younger opera lovers. Being a part of these events allows me to show people why I think opera is so cool and innovative. I have not had a single person at either of the two pop-ups that I have done tell me they didn’t have a good time. They really break down the social barrier of opera and I absolutely love that. It’s not always gowns and tuxes.

Is this a bit of a new form of Opera for a new generation?
It’s a step in the right direction. It is a way of informing people what opera is about. I do think that more and more companies are trying “Pop-ups” or “Opera on Tap” events to show that there is more to opera than dressing up and being quiet for 3 hours in an uncomfortable seat. We all have to do just a little bit of research when going to the opera, ballet, or symphony. I think programs like SF Opera Lab Pop-ups realize that and are trying to do it in an appropriate way.

The best part about this picture is, realizing which one is Andrew. He’s the Marquis D’Obigny at the far right. Photo Cory Weaver

You’re playing the Duke of Nottingham in Roberto Devereux at San Francisco Opera this Fall (September 8-27), that opera takes place in the same part of England as Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. So my question is, what did you think of Kevin Costner’s English accent in that movie?
What accent?! He skipped his British accent class. I much prefer all of the accents in the greatest Robin Hood movie of all time, Robin Hood: Men in Tights!

Also, what can fans look forward to in Devereux starting Saturday (9/8/18)?
Roberto Devereux is now up there as one of my favorite operas. The music is so much fun to sing and to hear. This cast is incredible. I’m joined by some of the best singers in the world with Sondra Radvanovsky as Queen Elisabeth, Russell Thomas as Roberto Devereux, and Jamie Barton as my character’s wife, Sara. The three of them are insanely talented musicians and it is an honor to share the stage with them! And the Maestro, Riccardo Frizza, has brought this score to life with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. It’s a thrilling piece of music.

To see Andrew sing in Devereux at the SF Opera
Starting September 8th
Info & Tickets Here

To join us at Opera Lab at The Great Northern where Opera meets the club scene
“Battle of the Divas”
Thursday, September 20 @ 730pm
Info & Tickets

& to check more awesome photos of the Opera checkout coryweaver.com

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor here at Broke-Ass Stuart. I enjoy covering Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife (not so much nightlife anymore).

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