Cary’s Own Baritone William Stone

William Stone is not your typical troubadour. This international singer of opera, oratorio and art song for nearly three decades with the major opera houses and symphonies of America and Europe who has appeared with the world’s leading conductors and symphonies happens to reside right here in Cary.

Described by neighbors as “a nice guy who is always willing to help out,” Stone also enjoys pottery and fishing as often as possible. This Goldsboro native who is presently the professor of voice and opera at Temple University, who travels back and forth for work and has performed for the likes of royalty and even the Pope himself, could live anywhere in the world but has chosen to call Cary home.

Stone’s foray into opera began when he first experienced La Bohème in Wilmington while in high school.

“Goldsboro had a terrific choral conductor, George Trautwein, who played ‘Nessun dorma’ with Jussi Bjørling for us, and it was a real goose-bump experience,” he said. “I took my first voice lessons in college, but didn’t sing well enough to consider opera until after grad school, when I had finally learned to sing.”

One of his most challenging performances was Penderecki’s Paradise Lost, that premiered at Lyric, Opera of Chicago and La Scala in Milan, which he sang in a command performance for the Pope at the Vatican.

“I enjoyed singing the operas of Verdi, who understood voices better than any other composer,” he said.

“Penderecki and the Pope were friends from their native Poland, which added an extra element of excitement to the event. My wife and children were invited as well, which was great.”

Performing in front of such a distinguished crowd could have any performer nervous. To overcome stage fright, Stone said he always takes a deep-release breath that relaxes him all the way down his spine, and he tries to concentrate on just the music.

It’s also common practice for Stone to avoid listening to his own recordings and reading critics’ reviews.

Stone enjoys other music styles like beach, gospel, country and western. He is a fan of Willie Nelson, Aretha Franklin and Frank Sinatra, to name a few.

His advice to anyone interested in becoming an opera singer is to find a good teacher, learn to sing well and work on different languages. If he wasn’t an opera singer, the next profession on his list would be just as specialized.

“A potter,” Stone said. “Pottery is the perfect complement to music; you can see examples on my Web site,”

This year, Stone is premiering a song cycle for baritone and string quartet based on his translation of a diary of Bauhaus potter Marguerite Wildenhain, composed by Maurice Wright. He also plans to continue teaching in Philadelphia, Pa., where he is a professor of voice and opera at Temple University, and a visiting artist at The Academy of Vocal Arts, a training school for emerging opera singers that is also in Philadelphia.

Stone added, “I love teaching, and it is my turn to pass this difficult craft to the next generation.”

Catch a free performance featuring Stone April 5 from 12 to 5 p.m. at the World Voice Day Celebration at the Duke Raleigh Hospital.


1 Comment

  • Nancy Breck says:

    My friend was his sister nancy stone. I remember seeing where he would fly fishing joggers and his own shotgun shells. We were all people of George trautwein.

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