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Ausrine Stundyte as Cio-Cio-San, Elizabeth Janes as Butterfly’s child and Sarah Larsen as Suzuki in Seattle Opera's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Photo by Elise Bakketun.
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Art and Fame: A Perspective of an Artist as a Young Man
Robert Hansen, executive director, National Opera Association
Original Content2/4/2010

When I was something less than two years old, certainly too young to have any real memory of it, I was photographed sitting in the middle of the dining room table wearing nothing but an over-sized and very glamorous hat. I don’t think the photo was posed: I’m sure I donned that hat myself, and from the expression on my face, I’m equally sure I expected to be noticed.

That must have been the earliest expression of my fantasy of fame and celebrity. I began my stage career at the age of five as the little prince in The King and I who crawls between the king’s legs. I relished that moment: the most special of all those child actors who comprised the royal family. Without belaboring the point, I continued performing all through my school years. I was sought after. I sang and performed everywhere and all the time, turning up as a regular in community and school projects, and even one professional program. One kind reviewer called me “everybody’s tenor” and a local philanthropist and arts supporter praised my “multi-faceted talents.” These are words of praise and encouragement that resonate in the formative years. I took the affirmation as a promise of future success. I watched the Academy Awards and Tony shows religiously, fantasizing about the day I would cross the stage to claim my own recognition.


About the Author: Robert Hansen is the Regent's Professor of Voice at West Texas A&M University. He holds degrees from Northwestern University, Boston University, and the Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of North Texas, and has done post-graduate study at Cambridge University in England. He made his professional singing debut with the Boston Summer Opera Theatre in 1977. He co-founded the Red River Lyric Theatre in Wichita Falls, TX in 1980 and served as its general director until 1986. He has made concert appearances in New England, the Midwest, and the Southwest. His performances with Amarillo Opera include Alfred (Die Fledermaus), Don Ottavio and Almaviva. He won acclaim for his Amarillo Little Theatre performances of Archibald Craven and Pseudolus. He performed the tenor role in the New York City premiere of the opera Confess, Confuse by Bruce Trinkley in January 2007. Hansen is listed in the International Who's Who in Music, is a member of OPERA America’s Singer Training Forum and currently serves as the executive director of the National Opera Association.

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