He has circled the globe singing the greatest operas ever written. He has performed with divas and demanding conductors. He has dedicated his life to honing his voice into an instrument of beauty.
But talented tenor Marcus Haddock now faces his life’s toughest challenge. In March 2009, while preparing to embark upon a series of European opera engagements, he suffered a paralyzing stroke that has put his artistic career in serious jeopardy.
Now in his 50s, an age when many male opera singers are hitting their prime, Haddock – who lives in Skaneateles – is struggling to regain his vocal form. The sudden stroke primarily affected his left side. He canceled his bookings and began a three-year struggle through surgery, hospitalization, rehabilitations, personal trainers and a vocalogist.
A singer’s body is his instrument, so such a serious physical disability is doubly troubling. Simple movements, speaking and even thinking can be laborious and frustrating.
While Haddock’s recovery continues slowly but surely, he has scheduled a mini-comeback of sorts at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 15, at the Everson Museum’s Hosmer Auditorium, at the corner of South State and Harrison streets, in downtown Syracuse. The recital, at which he’ll be accompanied by his pianist wife, Kathleen Haddock, is sponsored by Syracuse’s Civic Morning Musicals. Tickets cost $25, and $15 for students; civicmorningmusicals.org; 699-5856.
Haddock has invited three vocalist colleagues to join him on the program. Guest artists include soprano Janet Brown, mezzo soprano Carolyn Weber and basso cantante Phil Eisenman. Clarinetist Thomas McKay will also accompany the singers as they perform arias by Handel, Gluck, Belini, Rossini and Verdi.
Haddock’s wife and pianist Kathleen Haddock sees Sunday’s performance as “a small stepping stone to further progress… This may be some sort of comeback, but he’s by no means back to where he was vocally or physically before the massive stroke that nearly killed him.”
Haddock’s vibrant voice and magnetic stage presence have earned him international distinction. He is one of the most sought-after tenors of our time, and a leading tenor with many of the finest companies in the world including the Paris Opera, La Scala, Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Liceu of Barcelona.
He seeks out meaty, masculine roles that allow him to showcase his robust vocals as well as his remarkable acting abilities.
One of his signature roles is Don José in “Carmen,” which he sang in 2005-2006 at the Bavarian State Opera and in his native state of Texas at the Houston Grand Opera. The New York Times praised Haddock’s Don José opposite Anne Sofie von Otter’s Carmen at the 2002 Glyndebourne Festival as “stylish, elegant, candid and natural.” The Independent simply called his performance a “knock-out.”
Equally at home on the concert stage, Haddock was a frequent soloist in major choral/symphonic works, such as the Beethoven Ninth Symphony and Missa Solemnis, the Verdi Requiem and Rossini Petite Misse Solennelle.
The 15-year resident of Skaneateles is currently an applied instructor of voice at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and maintains a thriving voice studio. Even in the best of times, Haddock’s busy schedule leaves but little time for his favorite pastime – sailing – but his home on The Lane in Skaneateles keeps him close to the water.
“He has a ways to go yet,” his wife said, “but his devoted friends in the community have so encouraged him to do this little recital/lecture [on Sunday]. He practices every day trying to get his muscles and brain working better, but his brain damage was pretty extensive, and he struggles still with many issues.”
With his very artistry hanging in the balance, facing this challenge itself deserves thunderous applause. Bravo, Marcus!