Rich Copley: Baritone Bo Skovhus excited to return to Lexington during Games

Danish baritone Bo  Skovhus hopes to see some of the WEG competition.
Danish baritone Bo Skovhus hopes to see some of the WEG competition.

Bo Skovhus is going to get to brag to his horse-loving daughter that he will be in Lexington during the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Now, whether he will get to see any of the Games is another question.

"I hope I will see a little bit of the Games, but it is so tight, I only have three days," Skovhus said from Los Angeles, where he is appearing in the Los Angeles Opera's production of The Marriage of Figaro. He plays Count Almaviva with company artistic director Placido Domingo conducting.

When Skovhus agreed to perform a recital Tuesday for the Alltech Fortnight Festival at the Singletary Center for the Arts Recital Hall, the Danish baritone says he did not quite realize how far Kentucky is from Los Angeles.

Shovhus' appearance extends a friendship between him and University of Kentucky Opera Theatre director Everett McCorvey that began at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria.

"We met there, and he said when I'm in America sometime I should come over and do a recital and some master classes," Skovhus says.

He took McCorvey up on the offer three years ago and found it was worth his while.

"I was astonished at what they are doing," Skovhus says. "It was on a very high, professional level. ...

"When you travel in America, you usually go to New York and Chicago and Los Angeles, but you aren't very aware of what is going on in the country, and that it is at such a high professional level."

Tuesday's recital will give audiences a sense of recitals Skovhus-style, as he will concentrate on song cycles by Robert Schumann, including works based on the poems of Justinus Kerner.

Skovhus said he decided to focus on the composer in celebration of the 200th anniversary of his birth.

"I decided instead of singing everything people know, I should sing some things that they don't know," Skovhus says. "Schumann wrote so many, many songs, and only parts of them get performed.

"I'm not the type to sing opera arias and things like that, because there is so much great music written for piano and voice, why just do transcriptions that sound terrible on the piano?"

Return of 'La Bohème'

One of the things Skovhus says he admires about UK's opera program is that it offers full productions of operas.

"It's a really good idea because people come out learning drama and movement onstage and how to do things," Skovhus says. "That is sometimes a problem with students coming out, and the first time they do a role is onstage with a lot of professionals. That is something they have to do when they are in school, so they get basic stage training."

Locals and visitors will get to see what Skovhus is talking about this week when UK Opera Theatre revives its 2008 production of La Bohème.

The production will show off some of UK's student talent and one of its most celebrated graduates: tenor Gregory Turay.

Turay's win in the 1995 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions was a breakthrough for the UK program, and he has gone on to perform at the Met and on many other stages.

His performance as Rudolfo will be his second return to a full UK Opera production. Turay sang Alfredo in a 2006 benefit performance of La Traviata.

La Bohème is double cast, and Turay shares the role with Manuel Castillo, a graduate student in UK's voice program. Turay will perform Thursday in the evening and Oct. 3 in the matinee.