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Jamie Offenbach PortraitWhere did you grow up?
Because my father was in the Navy, my family moved around a lot. I was born in Hawaii, but also grew up in Japan, Puerto Rico, and throughout mainland USA.

Where did you first develop your love of singing? of opera?
I first developed my love of singing as a child. My mother and father encouraged me and my siblings to sing and play musical instruments. Throughout grade school, Junior High and High School, I was immersed in choir, dance, and musical theater.

After High School I moved to New York City, and began my professional career in musical theater. Off Broadway, national tours and Summer Stock soon followed. One summer, after just finishing a national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, I got a job as a Supernumerary in City Opera’s production of Turandot.  It was there, on that vast stage of Lincoln Center’s State Theatre, while holding a spear and immersed in a wash of glorious sound, that I fell in love with the art form. At that moment, I decided I would return to school to learn how to sing and read music.

Where did you train and/or go to school?
University of Hawaii Manoa, New York University, and The Juilliard Opera Center.

Tell me about the character you play in this opera.
Mephistopheles is obviously quite a character to portray successfully. As the devil, he is many things, and should not be played as a one dimensional stereotype. For me, he has to be multifaceted. He is strong, conniving, playful, cunning, seductive, dangerous, while definitely possessing a wicked sense of humor.

Why is this role interesting for you to perform?
First off, I love performing the role of Mephistopheles. He is such a great character. He has some of the best music in the piece, and is so well-written, and well-suited for my voice. It always becomes a challenge in my portrayal as I strive to make him successfully come alive on stage both musically and artistically.

What’s the most challenging thing for you about performing this particular opera?
It is a long night and a big sing! The challenge for me involves pacing and stamina, while also allowing myself to enjoy the journey.

What’s the most rewarding thing about performing this role?
At the end of the night, an artist always hopes to walk off the stage with a sense of pride for their personal accomplishments, as well as the production on the whole. In the end, the artistic reward hopefully becomes the big pay-off!

Even though Faust was written many years ago, why is it just as relevant to today’s audience?
It is a timeless and universal story: man selling out to the power of evil and the destruction that follows.

In this opera, Faust sells his soul to the devil for renewed youth and a second chance at love. Is there anything you would sell your soul for?
Maybe when I was in my early 20′s I thought about it…doesn’t everybody really?  But, knowing what I know now, and who I am today, absolutely no way!

What are some other operas that are personal favorites of yours, and why?
My favorite operas are the following:

Turandot…As it was my very first opera.
Il Barbiere di Siviglia…I played the role of Basilio- such a fun character to portray with such great music to perform.
Rigoletto…I played the role of Sparafucile: fantastic music that fits my voice well…and I love to play the bad guys!

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