Page 38 - Classical Singer magazine 2019 Fall University Issue
P. 38

The Griffey Gospel
the same opera with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.
Gri ey’s triumphs as Peter Grimes are irrefutable, but he still considers himself a work in progress. “That
role will always evolve,” he says. “I’m not a  nished project on that and I never think of myself as the de nitive anything!”
The highly regarded director John Doyle worked closely with Gri ey’s Peter Grimes at the Met and he has nothing but praise for him. “He’s
focused, organized, perfectly prepared, and wonderful with his fellow artists,” Doyle says. “Perhaps most importantly, though, is his glorious sense of humor, which contributes hugely to the relaxed atmosphere in the room. He thinks like an actor, takes risks, and doesn’t in any way allow ego to get
in the way of the creative process. All that—plus that wonderful lyrical voice—make for a great journey.”
After seeing Gri ey’s gut-wrenching Peter Grimes, audiences may be
surprised to know that he’s well known behind the scenes for his boundless humor. When asked about the source for his jocular nature, Gri ey says, “I make fun of myself all the time because I am a  awed human being. It’s important as an artist to be able to look at yourself and to  nd the laughter in it all.”
In his latest performance in Marnie at the Metropolitan Opera, Gri ey sang Mr. Strutt, a bit of a villainous character. Yet he came out and gave a lively high kick during the curtain call, keeping the festivities fun after the show’s serious ending.
Though Gri ey is known as an intrepid performer, he admits, “I’ve always had to deal with stage fright.” When prompted to explain his tools for tackling the anxiety, Gri ey chuckles a bit. “I know I’m going to sound a little like a preacher, but it’s my background. Things became much easier once I realized that I’m just the vessel the music comes through.”
He used to feel crippled by insecurity about his weight and his vocal abilities, mentally begging audiences and conductors, “Love me. Like me. Love my voice.” But now,
he sees his role primarily as a musical and dramatic interpreter, tapping into a deeper message. Perhaps one could call it the Gri ey Gospel.
One of the most signi cant challenges Gri ey overcame was the endless con ict about which repertoire best suited him. The world’s most in uential coaches disagreed with suggestions ranging from Rossini to Wagner. “For me to say, ‘This is what I have to say as Anthony Dean Gri ey’ took me a long time,” he says. “As a child growing up in poverty, I felt like
I didn’t have permission to say anything.”
Eventually, Gri ey found his niche in the characters whose journey felt close to his heart. “The roles I sing are not the most glamorous roles,” he says, “but they have a story behind them. The characters have a pulse.
38 Classical Singer | September/October 2019
Elizabeth Futral and Griffey as Curley’s Wife and Lennie Small in Houston Grand Opera’s production of Of Mice and Men, 2002
photo by George Hixson

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