New professor of vocal performance and opera, Joshua Lindsay, shares his background performing in Europe as well as what brought him to BYU
Lindsay’s passion for the art began when he was a teenager. He began voice lessons at age 15, though he needed some prompting to get started.
“I was singing at Family Home Evening,” Lindsay said. “I was mouthing the words because I didn’t want to sing. My mom said to sing louder. So to spite her, I sang as loud as I could, thinking it would make her mad. Instead she said I had a nice voice and that I should take singing lessons. I was surprised people even took lessons for singing. I obliged and said, why not. After that, I fell in love with it.”
The first opera Lindsay saw was a televised production of “Elixir of Love” starring Luciano Pavarotti and Kathleen Battle. But it was seeing a live production of “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg,” a five-hour opera by Wagner, that convinced Lindsay he wanted a career in music.
“I got hooked,” Lindsay said of the experience. “I had no idea how to go about having a career in music, but I knew that was what I wanted to do. And that’s what I did. I stuck with it and never gave up. I kept going.”
Lindsay pursued his dream by obtaining a Bachelor of Music from Utah State University and a Master of Music from the Manhattan School of Music. He taught as an adjunct professor while singing at regional opera houses before receiving a Doctorate of Music from Indiana University.
After continuing to sing throughout the United States, Lindsay and his wife, Molly, decided to move to Europe for more opportunities to further his career. The family moved to Germany where Lindsay auditioned for roles until he got a job in Austria, which led to more opportunities. He remained in Europe for seven years and sang in over 500 performances.
When asked what his favorite role to sing was, Lindsay quickly came up with two answers.
“The Witch in ‘Hansel and Gretel,’” Lindsay said. “It is a lot of fun and a lot of singing, all in 25 minutes. The Witch comes out at the end and steals the show. All the kids in the audience have been sitting through the whole opera just waiting for the Witch to come out.
“Another favorite is Don José in ‘Carmen.’ Along with it being an amazing story, he sings very lyric as well as very dramatic lines, so there is a wide variety of melodies to sing.”
As for his favorite opera, Lindsay once again shared his love for Wagner. “My favorite is Parsifal, Wagner’s last opera. It is long, but the music and the story is incredible. It is also very spiritual and symbolic with themes of Jesus Christ and salvation.”
Although Lindsay believed he would stay in Europe indefinitely, he decided to apply to become the new director of opera at BYU, a position recently vacated by Lawrence Vincent due to his retirement.
“I was impressed by the level of talent here,” Lindsay said. “As well as the congeniality of the people. I was basically the only Mormon in my field and in my town in Austria. Being alone in my values and beliefs was hard. Being in theater, I have had to tell directors ‘no.’ I am not going to do things that go against my beliefs. Maybe that hurt my career in some regard, maybe I was not given certain opportunities because they knew I wouldn’t do certain things. But my career is not as important as my family and my religious beliefs. Those are my priority.
“Coming back here, I can be creative. I can make an impact and help young singers and young musicians be the best they can be while not having to fight for my values as strongly as I did in Austria because everyone has similar values.”
Lindsay’s extensive professional experience will certainly be a great asset for vocal performance students in the School of Music, though he is using his expertise in a different way than he is used to.
“Directing is a new role for me,” Lindsay said. “I get to be creative in a different way. It is almost like I am a puppet master, bringing everything together. The acting is my main thing. I help the students who have just finished learning the music, notes and words actually put that into practice and act the part. My job is to take them and their vocal expertise and add the acting side to it.”
Along with his professional experience, Lindsay hopes to bring his passion for and love of opera to the School of Music. His directorial debut at BYU will be “A Grand Night of Opera,” performed October 21, 24 and 25-28.