Q&A: ‘Feast or famine’ lifestyle for operatic alumnus Victor Benedetti

Sarah Eberspacher

Victor Benedetti (Bienen ’90, Master’s ’92) has matured in his profession since his time at Northwestern. The opera singer talked to The Daily about his past at NU (singing in shows and making mock contracts with law students), his present (performing opera and musical theater in Seattle and beyond) and his future (continued performances with a new title as director?).

Excerpts:

Daily: Describe exactly what your current job entails.Benedetti: Well, as a professional opera singer I travel around the world singing different shows and performances. I still do some theater, too, but not as much as when I was in Chicago. Now, I get to pick and choose many of my jobs. It’s still kind of a feast or famine life. Sometimes it’s great and you have choices and sometimes a job comes up and you take it. It’s also different now because I have a wife and kids, so I have to think about that when taking jobs.

Daily: What was your career trajectory like after leaving NU?Benedetti: When I was still an undergraduate there, I did professional musical theater in Chicago. While working on my master’s, I got asked to join the Lyric Opera of Chicago downtown. I kind of went from doing theater to just opera exclusively and spent three years there performing. Then I started traveling.

Daily: Can you describe some favorite past performances?Benedetti: I loved doing Don Giovanni in New York City. It was my debut in New York, which was a big deal, and it was a role I’d done in Chicago, so I was familiar with it and I enjoyed singing it, so it was really exciting.Daily: Was performing the plan while at NU?Benedetti: Actually, my freshman year I remember my parents came for Parents’ Weekend and saw me perform, and I’d been planning to get a degree in business, too, but my dad said, “Son, don’t bother.” He’s probably kicking himself now. So I had been planning on having something to fall back on, but I wound up never getting it.

Daily: Any favorite memories from NU?Benedetti: It was fabulous and I had a great time there. I did lots and lots of shows there which were always a lot of fun. The thing I loved was everybody on campus auditioned for everything and it didn’t matter if you were theater or music or whatever else. If you liked to perform, you could audition, and I think that’s one of the best things about NU. Students generally come well-rounded and it’s a neat place for that in terms of sharing in the arts, regardless of major.

Daily: How do you think NU prepared you for your “real world” job?Benedetti: I think there was a tremendous amount of emphasis at NU on performing as a profession, not just a hobby. They give you the tools and training to be a good performer, but they also do a lot to show you what it is to be in the business. I remember they took the voice majors downtown and we paired up with the law students there and the idea was to negotiate a contract. And it was fascinating and amazing to look not just at the salary but at what it would be like in terms of being out there earning a living in an artistic field.

Daily: Where do you want to go with your career?Benedetti: I would like to teach, although I’ll probably end up directing because of my background in opera and musical theater. I’m sure I’ll be performing for quite a while longer, though. I love it.

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