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A Rising Opera Star Reaches New Heights

Brandon Jovanovich

Internationally Renowned Opera Singer

1994 BA in Theatre


A native of Billings, Montana, Brandon Jovanovich transferred to Northern Arizona University in the early 1990s to study theatre and music. He came to NAU with a deep baritone voice and dreams of one day working in Hollywood or musical theatre. Encouraged by theatre faculty members Mac Groves and Clifford White, as well as former opera director Lloyd Hansen, Brandon's undergraduate experience not only transformed his personal life, but gave him the confidence to pursue his life goal.

As a student, Brandon was cast in everything from Shakespeare to Stephen Sondheim. He credits his professors for guiding him along the way. Professor Hansen not only noticed Brandon's musical gift, but something else that was very important. Brandon was an undiscovered tenor. His vocal instructor, Judith Cloud, also took notice and assisted Brandon with a vocal transformation that would change the course of his musical calling.

Brandon and his future wife, Cara Welch—an NAU vocal performance major—graduated in 1994 and chose New York City as the place to embark on their careers. In those early years, Brandon sang and acted in musical theatre and independent film projects. Soon, musical theatre turned into operettas—like Gilbert and Sullivan. Gilbert and Sullivan eventually turned into Puccini and Mozart. And off-Broadway productions were replaced with the Santa Fe Opera Festival and San Francisco Opera.

By 2004, Brandon's career was skyrocketing. He was a last minute walk-on in the opening night production of Tales of Hoffman at La Scala in Milan, Italy, and was performing with major opera companies all over the country and throughout Europe. In 2007, Brandon received the highly prestigious Richard Tucker Award, a coveted honor bestowed on rising stars in the opera world. The pinnacle of all singers' dreams was realized by Brandon in February 2010—when he made his Metropolitan Opera debut. He performed the lead role of Don José in the opera Carmen and garnered excellent reviews. He is scheduled to return to the Met in this same role in 2011. Recently, Brandon received a special guest in his dressing room after a performance in Los Angeles—it was opera legend, Placido Domingo. Now, at the height of his career, Brandon is in great demand with a performance schedule booked until 2015. Upcoming highlights include Wagner's Ring Cycle with the San Francisco Opera and performances in Zurich and Barcelona.

Brandon expresses feelings of gratitude when reflecting upon his NAU experience. When asked what he values most about his undergraduate education, he responds without hesitation, "Everything! I loved the campus and I loved the people. It was a fantastic experience. Faculty members were always accessible." He credits his mentors, specifically Professors Groves, Hansen, and Cloud, for helping him realize his talent and encouraging him to be open to different theatrical and musical experiences. He recommends to all young music and theatre students to stay committed and take advantage of all the tremendous opportunities their education provides. His most memorable NAU performances were in the productions of Taming of the Shrew and Sweeny Todd. "Those productions had a real impact on me . . . I am known in the opera world for my acting skills and I am drawn to complex roles. I credit that to my undergraduate theatrical training." Brandon quickly adds, "The seeds of my success were sown at NAU. It all started there."

Brandon and his wife Cara have three children—Jacob, Seday, and Gabriel. For years, they all traveled with Brandon while he performed on the road. Since relocating to his home town of Billings, Cara has had the opportunity to return to performing as well, and recently sang in an opera production in Billings. When asked if he would recommend NAU to his children or young actors and musicians, Brandon responded, "Definitely!"

To find out more about Brandon's career and upcoming performances, you can visit his website at BrandonJovanovich.com.

Brandon Jovanovich: An Award-Winning Career

Brandon was twice a New York City district winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He was a founding member of the Seattle Young Artists program in 1998, and was a member of the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice program in 1996/97 where he was given the Anna Mackay Case Award. He won the Crawley Award from the Young Patronesses of the Opera/Florida Grand Opera Voice Competition, and in 2004 he was given the prestigious ARIA Award.

The ARIA Award is a $15,000 grant underwritten by the Thomas Foundation and recipients are selected from a list of candidates submitted by some of the opera world's most illustrious professionals. Singers are nominated based on proven ability and unusual promise.