David Serero—the actor, baritone, producer, and recording artist—has received international recognition and critical acclaim. At only 35 years old, he has already performed more than 1,000 concerts and performances throughout the world. He’s also played in more than 100 films and recorded 20 albums.
Serero began his career in musicals and theater in New York. After discovering opera in 2004, he has sung more than 30 lead roles in opera, operetta, and musical theater. He has produced and performed with Jermaine Jackson, as well as released a solo album, “All My Love Is For You,” a pop rock album that he composed, performed, arranged, and produced.
BELLA caught up with Serero to discuss how he keeps his voice in tip-top shape, the “touch of champagne” he adds to keep opera fresh, and why he doesn’t worry about falling into the comfort zone when it comes to his craft.
As an artist, how do you define beauty?
Beauty is the only thing that separates us from being robots. Beauty is the basics of everything. Beauty creates an emotion that can enlighten our lives. We all have beauty inside us. Beauty can be everything—a rose, a smile, a word, a cloud, a sound, a handshake. It’s accessible to everyone, if one can desire to open one’s eyes. We are surrounded by beauty. Heaven is now and here.
When did you discover opera, and how did you know it was for you?
I went at random one night to the Metropolitan Opera House. After the show, I said to myself, “That’s what I want to do!” The next day I returned to the Met and said to the cashier, “I saw an opera yesterday and I want to become an opera singer.” They thought I was crazy.
Do you have any rituals before a performance?
I sleep in the morning [laughs]! I try to stay quiet as much as possible, which is very hard to do. I eat well and drink a lot of water. I also rehearse a lot before the day of the performance, and arrive as early as possible at the theater or venue to prepare and get acquainted with the atmosphere. I also believe it’s important to be in a good mood. I stay away from any kind of conflict to stay in the best spirit possible. The audience can feel that; they want to see someone having a good time and happy so that you can deliver them the same feelings.
Many say that opera is declining. How do you keep opera alive without tampering with tradition?
I like to add my touch of champagne to it. I want to stay modern and put my personality in it. I always think that it goes with the behavior you have outside the stage. If you talk about opera in a very closed and pretentious way, it will turn off anyone who wishes to go there. I like to create an invitation and I think very “pop!” I want my music to be played for as many people and as often as possible.
As an actor, which other roles would you want to dive into?
From the minute you put a foot on stage or when the film director yells “action,” you are in danger. There is never a comfort zone for me. Even after performing over 1,500 concerts worldwide, you are always questioning yourself when new people come to judge you. I don’t really have a comfort zone, since I always want to do better every night. To perform Shakespeare in English (my second language), with roles such as Shylock and Othello (I performed both roles last season in New York City), is a big challenge. Also, there is some comedy in my solo show, and you never know the reaction of the audience. I always arrive very well prepared. But you need to have experience and “savoir faire” to deal with an audience. Every night is different.
You use music as a platform to advocate for change. Tell us more about your philanthropy.
I receive so much from people through their love, comments, presence, and support. If my modest talent can allow me to help others, a cause, or an organization, then I’m your man! All it takes is a call when you need me and I’m there. We are nothing if we don’t have people around us. I’m passionate about people. That’s why I’m doing this in the first place. So whatever I can do to help others, I’m here.
Your album, “All My Love Is For You,” was composed and produced solely by you. Tell us more about the process.
It was an album I wanted to do for the last 10 years. I’ve always performed songs by others, but for the first time, I wanted to write for myself. I went back to my original work which is as an arranger and producer. I started as a pianist before becoming a singer. This album has received critical acclaim in the U.S. I also enjoyed working on each of the instruments and creating specific sounds for each part. It took me nearly a year to record it. I’m very proud of the result. Pop Rock is a new genre for me to perform but I love to record it. It also allowed me to play my music for people who would have never come to see me at the opera or theater. Through this music, I also bring them to the opera.
What are some of your memorable roles in acting? In opera?
There are so many. The ones that come first to me are the first one Scarpia (Tosca) and Germont (Traviata) in St. Petersburg in 2004; Escamillo (Carmen), my debut in Europe in 2006; Don Quixote (Man of La Mancha) in Paris in 2012, which was one of my dreams to perform. Shylock (Merchant of Venice) and Othello’s title role in 2015 and 2016 in New York. The title roles of Nabucco, Don Giovanni, and Rigoletto in 2016. For 2018, I’ll do Cyrano de Bergerac’s title role, and Don Giovanni’s title role in New York. I’ll also play a one man play “I, Napoleon” that I wrote about Napoleon Bonaparte, which will take place in New York in 2017 and 2018.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Never doubt yourself. Learn your lines. Be a pro. You can always do better. Above all, enjoy. Be yourself because all the others are already taken. You have nothing lose; the worst that can happen is to be told “no.” Don’t be afraid to dream. Be good to others and others will be good to you. The best is yet to come…