Fandom of the Opera: Local Man Making it Big in New York

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Most singers dream of taking the stage at New York’s esteemed Carnegie hall; David Kelleher-Flight achieved that dream 7 years ago, well before the age of 35. Three years later, he made his New York City Opera debut as the Marquis de Tarapote in La Perichole at New York’s City Centre.

Of his debut performance at Carnegie Hall (Monterone in RIGOLETTO), The Greenwich Post declared “The real stand-out of the evening was David Kelleher-Flight … he showed the most polish and vocal refinement of the evening. His rich baritone voice set him apart from the others.”

In addition to performing in New York, David is now the vice-president of the Light Opera of New York, a faculty member at the State University of New York at Suffolk County, and he maintains a private studio in Manhattan, where he trains professional singers and Broadway performers. He has also been a vocal coach for the Young People’s Chorus of New York City.

This September, he was presented with MUN’s Tribute Award, which recognizes “exceptional achievement by a Memorial graduate 35 years of age and younger.”  MUN is not the only one singing his praises. Opera News recently wrote of his “flawless diction and flexible lyric baritone.”

Where country musicians flock to Nashville to make it, or hockey players move to Canada, Opera singers head to New York to prove themselves, as David did, and the world has taken note that he’s holding his own in its very competitive classical music scene.

He wound up in New York after graduating MUN, as he moved  there to complete a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music. He then completed his PhD in musical arts from State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Today, his resumé boasts more than 50 leading and supporting roles in opera and musical theatre, and as MUN states, “Since making his professional debut with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra in 2004, the St. John’s native has beaten the odds in the competitive world of classical music and built an international profile, working with leading opera houses, conductors, and musicians around the globe.”

On two separate occasions, Dr. Kelleher-Flight was accepted into the Lieder Master Course at Oxford University for Advanced Singer-Pianist Duos at the Oxford Lieder Festival, which is regarded as Europe’s most respected Festival of Song.

For all of his success to date, he gives much credit to the place he got started and found his footing during elementary school: the Newfoundland Symphony Youth Choir (NSYC). The NSYC was founded by Susan Knight in 1992 to support gifted young Newfoundland singers.

Like a true Newfoundlander, Dr. Kelleher-Flight is drawn to lighter-hearted material, and to bringing a little comedy to the stage, in a discipline best known for intensity and heavy subject matter.

As for the future, he is enjoying the liberty, balance, and creative stimulation of “doing it all”: performing, teaching, and producing. This September, he’ll be playing a miner in New York City Opera’s version of Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West, set during the California’s Gold Rush.

“I am constantly in awe of where my career brings me,” he says, “and I can definitely say that the effort and struggle of a musical career is not for the faint of heart, but sometimes difficult paths lead to beautiful destinations. I am very grateful for my journey thus far, and my wonderful family who has supported me throughout since the beginning.”

About Author

Chad Pelley

Chad Pelley is an author, songwriter, and journalist who wrote for publications like the Globe & Mail and The Telegraph-Journal before founding The Overcast. Now he spends 25 hours a day keeping up with his email, and has no time to be his former self.

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