Friday, 17 November 2023, 11:07
Enjoying a fruitful career that involves pursuing a lifelong passion is something that many people would welcome with open arms, although it is something that few get the chance to achieve. Making one's name in the world of music or the arts can be extremely difficult, especially when trying to break into a genre that attracts a select audience, such as opera.
One 81-year-old baritone has achieved just that, embarking on a career that has taken him to some of the top stages in Europe, and he now continues to promote his love of operetta and musical theatre on the Costa del Sol.
Born in Toronto, Canada, in 1942, Estepona resident David Geary began to take singing seriously at the age of seven, although unlike many of his generation who were enjoying the jazz era, he was captivated by opera. His early inspiration came from his parents, who both sang in a choir.
"My parents both sang, and we were a very musical family. I was seven when I decided that I wanted to be an opera singer. I know this is very peculiar, but you must remember that rock and roll did not exist: this was pre-Elvis," David tells SUR in English, bursting into laughter.
At the age of 18, David enrolled in the Royal Conservatory in Toronto to study voice, opera and piano. Some of his friends found his love of opera a "little strange", but he was unperturbed, as he was, he points out, "fanatical about learning to sing opera".
In 1966, David headed to Munich, a city that had, and still has, a thriving opera scene, where he continued to study, while also auditioning for numerous performances: three years later, he began working in a theatre in Germany.
During the 1970s, he began working as a singer and a pianist in Switzerland, where he would live and work for more than 40 years. It was while in Switzerland that David enjoyed one of the highlights of his career (although he admits there have been many), when he sang at the Zurich Opera House.
However, David says that looking back in hindsight, even though he has sung professionally his entire career, he believes that his "main talent" is in stage directing.
"I sang mainly character roles, but I was also working as a pianist, which is rare, because people do not usually get hired to do both. It was in Switzerland that I started to work as a stage director. I started to get a lot of work as a director with some excellent companies. It was primarily operettas, but I did some operas also," he explains.
Although David bought his apartment in Estepona in 1994, he did not move to the town until 2015, even though he had long wanted to live here. He had enjoyed several holidays in the Costa del Sol town, but eventually made the break "before it was too late".
"I visited several times, and I loved it here, so I decided to move here permanently. I put out feelers to see if I could get involved with the cultural life in Estepona. This turned out to be much more than I could have imagined, because Estepona offers more culture than people realise," he says.
One of the first things he did once he had settled in his new environment was to found the opera company, La Operita de Estepona, with which he has premiered several productions. With the exception of David, the entire cast consists of Spanish singers. Their next production is Camelot, which premiers in the Padre Manuel Cultural Centre, Estepona, tonight (Friday).
"I saw the original production of Camelot with Richard Burton and Julie Andrews, so I have always had a strong feeling for it. It is a pretty elaborate show, but we have cut it down to just seven people, which works very well, because it's a very intimate story," he explains.
The show took almost a year to produce, and so David and the cast are hoping to take it to other venues along the coast. Even though he knows that the operetta scene on the coast attracts a "limited audience", he feels there is a need for it, which, he says, "is just as well, because I cannot do anything else".
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