Philippine-born but US-educated, Allan Palacios Chan has been going through the arduous but colorful phases of a tenor—performing lead characters in major classical operas since 2012—to authenticate his lifetime passion for music by finally receiving sometime in March 2018 a coveted Doctor of Musical Arts in Voice Performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He received his Master’s degree in Musical Arts majoring in Voice Performance from the same University in 2012. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Music from the George Mason University in 2009, majoring in Voice Performance with a minor in Theater.
Chan recently performed the lead roles of Dom Basilio and Curzio in Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” with the Berlin Opera Academy. In 2016, he took the role of Jake in Matthew Aucoin’s “Second Nature” and of Valek in Bedrich Smetana’s “The Bartered Bride,” both with the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California. His other lead roles include in Rossini’s “La Cenerentola,” with the Music Academy of the West; Handel’s “Ariodante,” with the Cincinnati Chamber Opera; Handel’s “Acis and Galatea,” with the New Dominion Chorale; Italo Montemezzi’s “L’Amore dei Tre Re,” with the Queen City Chamber Opera; and Jennifer Jolley’s “The Bubble,” with the Nano Works Opera.
Chan also has performed in various recitals and concerts as Tenor Soloist with the Lebanon Symphony Orchestra, CCM Philharmonic Orchestra, and with the New Dominion Chorale; and in venues including the Historic Peterloon Estate in Cincinnati, Ohio, in Carnegie Hall, in Collegium Cincinnati, and in the Cathedral of St. Thomas More, in Arlington, Virginia.
His performances were with various orchestras conducted by, among others, Stanley Engebretsen, Robert Shafer, JoAnn Kuleza, Mark Gibson, Matthew Aucoin, and John Churchwell. His stage and vocal performances in operas have been under the directions of Richard Crittenden, Cindy Oxberry, Robin Guarino, Nic Muni, Bruce Donnell, and David Paul. Throughout his careers, he has been guided by coaches, first by Marilyn Horne, and then by John Fisher, Ken Noda, Martin Katz, Warren Jones, and by Joy Pucket-Shreier.
Q. Among the world’s famous tenors, in whose footsteps do you want to follow?
A. I want to follow my own footsteps. Everyone’s steps are ordered differently. So, I am happy to be on my own journey. But if you were to ask me whose technique and musicianship I particularly appreciate, I would have to say the late Jussi Bjorling and Luciano Pavarotti. Living tenors who I like are Juan Diego Florez and Lawrence Brownlee…they’re the best!
Q. As a tenor with the highest male singing voice, how do you place your God-given talent in the modal register, between the low and high extremes?
A. My voice is a light lyric tenor, so my repertoire spans from [George Frideric] Handel to [Gloacchino] Rossini and [Gaetano] Donizetti. It is the highest and most florid of all the tenor repertoire, and a lot of fun to sing.
Q. The MusicWebsite “Seen and Heard International” reviewed your performance in December 2015 as “leggiero” to mean slight and sprightly, are you satisfied to be branded as such in your present and future performances?
A. That is the literal translation of “leggiero” into English. There is this thing called the “fach” (pronounced “fax”) system invented in Germany, which categorizes singers based on voice type. This was established to protect singers from having to sing repertoire that might be inappropriate and potentially harmful to their God-given instrument. A “leggiero” tenor is a “fach” that describes a tenor with a high and bright instrument capable of singing the florid and high flying repertoire of the Bel Canto tradition, which is the Italian school of singing that started in the Mid-19th Century.
Q. Who are your favorite operatic composers, classical and contemporary?
A. [Wolfgang Amadeus] Mozart is my absolute favorite. [Franz Peter] Schubert is a close second. I also love Rossini, [Claude] Debussy, and [Antonin] Dvorak.
Q. Among the Bel Canto repertoires, which are your favorites and why?
A. Rossini is my absolute favorite of the Bel Canto composers. There is a sense of innocence that he captures in his music, the likes of which has yet to be repeated…in my humble opinion.
Q. When you finally are conferred the Doctorate Degree in Musical Arts, what are your immediate plans?
A. My immediate plans are to do a few cartwheels and pop a couple bottles of champagne. After that, I plan on leaving the world of academia for a while to submerge myself in the world of entertainment and art. I want to live “La Vie Boheme”…I want to live and be the artist that I am meant to be, fully and “whole-heartedly,” and share what I feel and what I have come to know with the people around me.
Q. How often do you do your singing exercises and in what part of the day?
A. I sing for about four to five minutes shortly after I wake up. Get ready for the day, eat, then after a couple hours I do vocalizes for about 30 to 40 minutes. I sing for at least another hour throughout the day, with frequent breaks in between.