From West To East & Back – Bass Christopher Job on His Historic Roots in LA, Singing At the Met OperaBy David Salazar
Christopher Job has seen it all.
The bass-baritone has worked with many of the world’s greatest artists, all while building up a unique career singing smaller roles at the Metropolitan Opera while performing bigger ones with other companies.
The California native recently had an opportunity to perform with the LA Philharmonic on its 100th-anniversary concert. It was a major homecoming for Job, who despite growing up on the west coast, hadn’t actually gotten a chance to work with a major musical organization in his home state until that point.
“It brought me back to my roots in California,” he noted in an interview with OperaWire. “I have been singing all over the world and I had longed to return to CA in some sort of way. It’s like returning as a prodigal son.”
Growing up in California for Job was no small matter. His entire family legacy was built there.
His family has its roots in Culver City, where Job noted that his aunt is a city historian.
“My mother’s side of the family, maiden name Lugo, were founders of Los Angeles and pioneers of California, coming over on a Spanish land grant in the 1700’s,” he noted. “Two Lugo ancestors were present at the founding of the city of Los Angeles. They were Don Francisco Salvador Lugo and his son Don Antonio Maria Lugo.”
Moreover, he added that the first piano in California was brought around Cape Horn by ship and was in the Lugo family home. And as if that wasn’t enough family lore, the first college in California was started in the Lugo family home in L.A. and eventually became Loyola Marymount University.
So it was no surprise that Job relished the opportunity to perform with an ensemble that he was exposed to from his youthful days at the Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, where the students would get a chance to check out the LA Philharmonic up close and personal.
“The greatest thing as a young adult was seeing world-class conductors either running the Phil or coming in as visitors,” he noted. “It was almost like seeing a superstar in the classical world come through your town.”
Metal To Classical
Even though he had that early exposure to classical music, Job wasn’t necessarily preparing himself for moving in that direction.
“I was a wannabe heavy metal singer, guitarist in high school,” he revealed.
But eventually, he joined the school choir at the insistence of a friend he carpooled with. He had resisted for a long while because he thought it wasn’t “his thing,” but quickly came to enjoy the music making.
As part of being a member of the chamber choir, he was required to take lessons and his teacher encouraged him to look away from heavy metal.
“They told me I can’t be a heavy metal singer anyway because they are all tenors,” Job quipped.
He was eventually convinced to take classical singing seriously when he listened to the legendary Paul Plishka. He was undoubtedly inspired to look deeper into singing, and yet, he went to college with no heading.
He started off as a biology major but then decided that he would change his major to vocal performance.
“I changed major and never went back,” he noted.
At the Met
These days, that decision has obtained him a steady gig at the Metropolitan Opera where he performs in smaller roles on a consistent basis. He also gets the opportunity to perform in major events, such as the Metropolitan Opera’s 50th Anniversary in Lincoln Center Gala, which took place one year ago.
“It was probably the greatest musical experience of my career thus far. It was so surreal to be a part of that kind of event,” he enthused. “To be involved was monumental and special. It was an incredible honor. You don’t feel like your little name doesn’t belong there with a Giant slew of stars.”
Among the stars that performed on the gala was superstar soprano Anna Netrebko, with whom Job worked on in one scene from Verdi’s “Macbeth.” Job noted that the duo didn’t really get much rehearsal time, but he had already performed the scene with her back when she interpreted the Verdi villain years earlier.
“I thanked her for singing it because without her I wouldn’t be on the gala,” he noted.
These days, he’s working on the stage of the Met in three productions, including “Tosca,” which stars Netrebko.
“Working with her is fantastic. She’s a beast and also very kind and a great colleague,” he added.
After he wraps up his work on “Tosca,” “Cendrillon,” and “Roméo et Juliette,” he will remain in New York to take on a meatier role in the New York City Opera’s production of “Brokeback.” Mountain.”
“It’s an exciting project and I love that the New York City Opera is doing these unique, thematic based productions that appeal to a broader audience,” he explained. “It’s great to see companies looking outside the box in terms of building their audiences.”
Additionally, he will appear in Carnegie Hall for Lord Nelson Mass with the New England Symphonic Ensemble and also take on “Into the Woods” with the Charlottesville Opera.