The spice of life

French baritone David Serero likes to vary his concert content with classical and operatic music on one hand, and popular fare on the other.

Serero 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Serero 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Fate has had a guiding hand in opera singer David Serero’s choice of vocation. When he was in his teens, the Jewish French baritone, who performs at the Felicja Blumental Concert Hall on March 6 and 7 (at 8 p.m.), was developing his piano playing skills nicely when he had a roller skating accident. “I broke my right wrist and couldn’t play the melody on the piano, so I began to sing it,” says the 29-year-old Serero. The rest is history.
He says that after a number of years in the profession, he prefers to follow a naturally evolving route through his multi-hued musical tapestry. “Of course, I am an opera singer, so I sing works by Mozart, Verdi, Puccini and other composers, but there are also Broadway musicals in my programs. I also do world music numbers like Yiddish songs, Russian and Gypsy songs and some Israeli songs.”
Considering the fact that both Serero’s parents are Israeli-born, the latter would seem to be a given.

The Felicja Blumental audiences can expect to hear items from most of the above genres, and a few more. “It has become like a game for me,” says Serero, “to take people from opera to other music, like popular music, and to take fans of popular music to opera. In the same program you can have Mozart, then “Besame Mucho,” followed by maybe “Avinu Malkeinu,” Verdi and “Jerusalem of Gold.’” Serero feels it is an efficient means of drawing the public into musical areas they may not otherwise consider. “It is like a child who doesn’t want to take his medicine, so you put it in a candy and the kid says, ‘Mmm this is good.’ It may be poison,” laughs Serero, “but I am killing people with music – it is a nice death.”
One might think that mixing his programs could present Serero with a marketing conundrum. Opera goers, for the large part, take their opera pretty seriously.
How, then, does he manage to get them to embrace, let alone enjoy, the more “downmarket” musical offerings he performs? “To do what I do, you need to have one foot very very strong in pure classical and opera music, and the other one very very deep into popular music.
My musical education always went into both sides on the same level. So no one can accuse me of, let’s say, prostituting opera.”
Serero says he has the necessary street cred. “Look, people like [iconic opera singer] Placido Domingo talk about me as one of the future stars of opera.”
It must be said that Serero got himself a solid grounding in the “serious” side of the music business before venturing into his tailored mix and match direction. “I spent two years in St. Petersburg at the Marinsky Theater. I was one of the first non-Russian singers to perform there. I spent three years with teachers from the Metropolitan Opera in New York,” he declares. “I fell in love with Broadway musicals while I was there.”
Besides providing quality entertainment, Serero also feels he has an educational mission – to enlighten people in a fun way. “When you say people are very serious about opera, it is because most of the time we criticize what we don’t know. By the way, that sometimes happens with Israel [in the world media]. It is my job, as a passionate and professional musician, to explain things. So I explain: ‘In this aria, this guy is in love with this girl, but there is another guy who loves that girl, so he is sad and crying.’ I don’t talk about things in a dry way.
I try to educate people and bring the music to life.
I try to go beyond the traditions with the audience.
I know that if they want to see the traditions, they can see me perform in a big opera. When they come to my concerts, with my program, I want to show them something they can’t see in the opera.”
At the end of the day, Serero wants to give people their money’s worth and as varied a musical diet as possible. “If there had been no variety, there would have been no one after Mozart. Variety gives you the evolution of the music and the people,” he says.
There are also a number of young children, particularly one eight-year-old boy, who are also delighted that Serero is around. “I do benefit shows, and I did a small concert for the children at Hadassah [Ein Kerem] Hospital in Jerusalem a few days ago, and there was a young boy who was particularly excited to see me,” Serero recounts. “He told me he plays piano, Mozart, and I decided to bring him to Tel Aviv so he can play for the audience.
That, for me, is a very important part of being in Israel.”
For more information and ticket reservations, call (03) 620-1185.