In the beginning, Angela Rice’s Easter oratorio “Thy Will Be Done” had a Metropolitan Opera auditions-winning tenor lending his soaring voice to the role of Jesus Christ.
Now, in its sixth edition, the production has some equally strong credentials in the opposing role of the devil.
Elizabethtown baritone Anthony Clark Evans joins the cast, and like Gregory Turay, who has sung the role of Christ since the work’s premiere in 2012, Evans has the distinction of being an unlikely winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. When Turay won in 1995, he was coming out of the then-unheralded University of Kentucky voice program. In 2012, Evans won from the even less likely Swope Toyota in E-town.
At the time, Evans was know as the singing car salesman, having left voice studies at Murray State University and taken a job selling cars to support his wife and emerging family. The Evans still reside in Elizabethtown, but Evans’ car-selling days are behind him as he spends a lot of time on the road singing in operatic hotspots including New York, Chicago and St. Louis.
I’ll bring my knowledge of the story and religion itself, but not necessarily hate myself for singing the devil.
Anthony Clark Evans
Tuesday morning, he was happy to be back in Kentucky, revisiting a work he first encountered in 2013.
“I don’t know if it’s completely done, but I think it’s either on its way or done,” Evans says of the work, which Rice has been refining over the years with a number of collaborators. “It’s got more bulk and completeness, as far as just the characters go.”
Evans says he likes the way the role of the devil has been written, mining his lower range while offering him some soaring notes as well. Though he grew up in a church with his father as a music minister, he isn’t bothered by playing the Prince of Darkness.
“It’s less about religion than being true to the story itself,” Evans says. “You can be a religious person and still get the character out of it. To get the desired effect, you have to tell the story the right way, and that’s what I think I’m going to bring to it. I’ll bring my knowledge of the story and religion itself, but not necessarily hate myself for singing the devil.
“The way he gets people, in literature, to think his way, is not by being evil, it’s by being seductive. So you have to sing it beautifully while at the same time have a little bit of a cynicism to it. The way I think of it is, what would a dictator do to get people on his side?”
There are parts of the job that feel like a job, but when you’re on stage and you’re singing and you get that applause, that’s the big payoff.
Anthony Clark Evans
The role comes in the midst of busy days for Evans that often keep him on the road and away from his 2-year-old daughter. He recently made his Metropolitan Opera debut in a production — he had sung there in the finals of the Met auditions — singing the role of The Huntsman in Antonín Dvořák’s “Rusalka.” Though the role had him off stage, Evans says it was a thrill to be back at the Met, working with its staff and artists.
He spent three years at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in the company’s Ryan Opera Center and will return in January, singing the role of Riccardo in Vincenzo Bellini’s “I Puritani.”
“It’s still not a job,” Evans says of his burgeoning career. “There are parts of the job that feel like a job, but when you’re on stage and you’re singing and you get that applause, that’s the big payoff. ... There’s no better feeling in the world. So there are things that are very tough and always have been, and that will never go away,” he says, primarily referring to time away from his family. “But I will deal with those things to get to that one minute of joy.”