American baritone Daniel Narducci will have a unique perspective when he plays the role of King Arthur in Indianapolis Opera‘s production of Lerner & Loewe‘s classic musical “Camelot,” presented at Schrott Center for the Arts at Butler University March 22-24. Narducci, 51, played the role of Lancelot on tour opposite Robert Goulet, who played King Arthur. At the time, Narducci was 28 and later, at the age of 31, he reprised the role of the younger knight in a second tour.
Narducci has performed with some of the world’s most prestigious opera companies and on numerous operetta and musical theatre stages throughout North America and Europe. A multi-faceted artist, Narducci has performed in live stage presentations, recordings, documentaries, and television. Since his professional debut with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, under the direction of Erich Kunzel, Narducci has sung with many of the world’s most renowned orchestras as well.
Nationally acclaimed director Scott Perry will direct Narducci and his castmates in IO’s “Camelot,” which premiered on Broadway in 1960 and led to the 1967 film version. The original Broadway cast album topped the charts for 60 weeks, with a score that included “If Ever I Would Leave You, “I Loved You Once in Silence, “The Lusty Month of May,” and the show’s title song “Camelot.” The original production was followed by numerous revivals of the musical that recounts the story of King Arthur, who hopes to create a kingdom of honor and dignity, embodied by his Knights of the Round Table. But when his queen Guinevere falls in love with young Knight Lancelot, the King’s ideals are tested and the future of the kingdom hangs in the balance. Written like an operetta for the musical theatre stage, IO refines this classic tale for a contemporary audience.
Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Narducci by phone about his upcoming appearance in “Camelot.” The first question I asked him was what it was like working with Goulet. “Some of the memories I have of touring with Goulet specifically reference his professionalism,” explained the singer. “While waiting in the wings with him and James Valentine, who played King Pellinore, he would joke with Valentine, saying things like ‘James, they like you more than me,’ but once he hit the lights, he was right in character,” Narducci said, adding, “The performance he brought every night had the same energy. He was always on. So what I took from that became part of my craft, but the level that Robert operated on was very special.”
“And how is it switching roles from Lancelot to King Arthur?” I asked. “I think that I bring a perspective that is going to be helpful as I play Arthur. I have a son who just turned 18 and 20 years of life experience that I can bring to the table that will be helpful,” said Narducci.
Narducci, who is a voice teacher at the University of Indianapolis, is looking forward to singing the role of Arthur because his voice is in its prime. “The wisdom is we really come into our own and reach full maturity in our 40s and ideally, it lasts into our 60s. If we are blessed and take care of ourselves and the instruments, we can sing into our 70s. I have an awareness, knowledge and understanding of how my voice works. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I started to figure out the technical aspects of the voice because we can rely on our youth for only so long. That is where the teaching has really helped in that, not only do I teach my students what to do, but I apply the techniques as well and it helps me with my own problem solving if I am struggling,” said Narducci.
When it comes to singing Lerner and Loewe’s score, Narducci said, “I think it has some breath-taking moments, in terms of scoring the melodrama. As I am working through Arthur’s text, especially his big soliloquy at the end of Act 1, the text alone…as I am reading through it, studying it and working it into my body and my voice…is profound, and the score is moving and filled with pathos.”
Making his professional debut with Indianapolis Opera in 1990 in a production of “The Pirates of Penzance,” Narducci said, “It feels like the organization is on an upswing since General Director David Starkey took over. The way in which he is programming classic operas, along with a musical like ‘Camelot’ really lends itself to what audiences want to hear as well as delving into newer things that challenge and speak to their artistic sensibilities. It’s necessary for us to keep creating in this genre. A city like Indianapolis really needs to have an opera company.”
“Camelot” performances are Friday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 23 at 7:30 pm. and Sunday, March 24 at 2:30 pm. All performances will take place at the Schrott Center for the Arts at Butler University. Tickets range from $35 – $86. For tickets and more information, call (317) 940-6444 or visit indyopera.org.