Written by Jonathan Murphy |
In a sublet apartment in New York City, David Walton (’09) patiently waits for his next opera audition. Classical singers from all over the world gather in the City from October through December to audition for companies casting for the following seasons. While there, Walton is singing for Kentucky Opera, Pensacola Opera, Anchorage Opera, several German opera companies and many more where he is being considered for their upcoming seasons.
The Nashville, Tennessee, native wasn’t always planning for a future on stage.
“I love music, but I didn’t really think about taking it seriously,” Walton said. “I needed a fine-arts credit my senior year in high school, so I auditioned for chorus because I didn’t want to take art. Also, I knew chorus wouldn’t have homework and projects. My choral director put me in the tenor one section, and I started to enjoy it. He started giving me solos, and little by little it grew into this really meaningful experience.”
With plans to attend Harding after graduation, Walton decided to pursue a music scholarship.
“The music department at Harding took a huge risk on me,” he said. “I had no idea how to read music or really know what I was doing at all, but I had a high tenor voice, so I guess they saw potential and gave me a scholarship.”
It was during his time at the University that Walton learned the art and mechanics of music. Upon graduation, he went to Ole Miss where he received a master’s in vocal performance.
“I could never have felt more prepared going into graduate school,” Walton said. “People like Scott and Cindy Carrell, Dr. Ganus, Arthur Shearin, Kelly Neill and Laura Eads instilled in me a foundational, fundamental understanding of music.”
He also was prepared spiritually for the challenges ahead.
“The arts world is very free,” Walton said. “It’s very open. So, you have to go into it with an open mind and yet also know your own strengths and weaknesses. Having people and examples like my professors at Harding in the voice studio and in the choir room really instilled in me a spiritual strength ready to take on whatever was going to be thrown at me.”
In 2011 Walton and his wife, Rebecca Hatfield (’09), moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he was hired to sing full time with Cantus, a men’s vocal ensemble. He performed with them for three years before joining the Resident Artist Program with the Minnesota Opera and now works as a freelance opera singer.
“When I left Cantus and really decided to get into opera, I wanted to pursue the music of Mozart, Rossini and Donizetti,” Walton said. “I also wanted to work one on one with composers who write for my voice and explore new ideas and make world premieres. I’m getting to do my fifth world premiere with Minnesota Opera this spring.”
In 2018 alone, Walton performed as Belmonte — one of his dream roles — in Mozart’s “Abduction from the Seraglio,” Tonio in Donizetti’s “The Daughter of the Regiment,” and at the Glimmerglass Festival last summer, he was Count Almaviva in Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.”
He also sings with symphonies and does concert work.
“Getting to do Handel’s “Messiah” with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and Bach with the Atlanta Symphony has been a really amazing experience,” Walton said.
While he hopes to one day perform at Carnegie Hall or the Metropolitan Opera, and possibly do an opera somewhere in Europe — a couple of months in Germany, Austria or France — Walton is happy with what he’s getting to do right now, which is “making music and telling stories on stage with friends and colleagues.”