The Interview: Philly-Born Opera Great Eric Owens

The Philly native turned bass-baritone opera great has performed in concert halls the world over. This month he returns to star in Don Carlo at the Academy of Music. Opens April 24th. 

Give us your Philly bio.
Born and raised in Mount Airy. Went to Central, then Temple and the Curtis Institute of Music. And Settlement Music School. So my connection is not at all tangential.

Why opera?
I started out with piano and oboe, but I had been a fan of opera for quite some time, since I was eight or nine—just listening to it on LPs. I saw Tosca at the Met at 16, and opera won the battle.

I know you’ve performed at the Met, Carnegie Hall, throughout Europe. Any favorite houses?
Well, actually, the Academy of Music. It’s the oldest continuously operating opera house in the country. It’s just beautiful.

What’s your range?
Two and a half octaves. That’s from my lowest note of a low C—two Cs below middle C—up to my highest note, an A above middle C.

Wow. That’s low. Can I assume you’re the guy that does Barry White at karaoke?
I’ve never done karaoke. Can you believe that? But I bet I can pull off some Barry.

This article originally appeared in the Ticket section in the April issue of Philadelphia magazine.