Noah Stewart is not your average opera singer–he’s young, he’s black, he’s openly gay . But he’s exactly the person to update opera for the 21st century.
As an African American kid growing up in Harlem, opera was not an obvious career choice. Raised by a single mom, Stewart was encouraged to get involved in any and all after-school activities, so in junior high, Stewart joined the school choir. From there, he fell in love with opera and went on to study at The Julliard School of Music on a scholarship.
After Julliard, however, Stewart couldn’t seem to get a foot in the opera door. For several years after graduating, he worked odd jobs like selling kitchen utensils at Williams-Sonoma and working as a receptionist at Carnegie Hall. Then in 2007, Noah got his first taste of the spotlight when he took over the role of Macduff in Verdi’s Macbeth at the San Francisco Opera after the main tenor fell ill. Since then, he has performed as Pinkerton in Opera North’s production of Madame Butterfly and received a part in Miss Fortune produced at the Royal Opera House.
In 2010 Universal studios signed him to a five disc deal, something that is hard to come by for even established opera singers. In 2012, Stewart’s debut album Noah rose to number one on the UK Classical Album Chart, making Stewart the first black artist to top a classical music chart.
In keeping with his youth and modern approach to opera, Stewart even released a music video for one of his tracks, “Without a Song”. Shot in black and white, the music video could have just as easily been used as a backdrop for a Jay-Z song as for Stewart’s orchestral number. The song, which Stewart says really resonated with him, has been very well received and even has some cross over appeal.
This Saturday, North Carolina audiences will be able to experience Noah Stewart’s tenor talent. Stewart will be joining three other opera singers for Opera in the Pines, a concert at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary. The concert will feature many popular songs and Broadway favorites, and the NC Opera Orchestra with conductor Timothy Myers will be accompanying the singers. The concert on Saturday starts at 7 pm, and doors open at 5 pm.