Equally comfortable in opera, theatre, and the recording arts, Prof. Treviño has been hailed as “a bass of rare talent” (San Francisco Chronical) possessing a “mellifluous bass that is at once robust and gentle” (Opera Magazine). A Texas native and recent winner of the Austin Critic’s Table Award for Best Singer, Treviño enjoys an active career on stage and stars in numerous studio recordings of new works including The Canterville Ghost by Gordon Getty (Pentatone), The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat by Michael Nyman (Naxos), and Three Way by Robert Patterson (American Modern Recordings). Recent stage highlights include Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoore and Leporello in Don Giovanni with Opera Colorado, Sparafucile in Rigoletto and Zuniga in Carmen with Hawaii Opera Theater, The Client in Three Way with the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Colline in La Bohème with the Colorado Symphony, Sparafucile in Rigoletto with Vancouver Opera, Hobson in Peter Grimes and Sparafucile in Rigoletto with the English National Opera, Timur in Turandot with the Austin Opera, The King in Aida with Aspen Music Festival, The Ghost in The Canterville Ghost with Opera Leipzig, and the Messiah with St. Louis Symphony. Prof. Treviño is a former member of the Merola Opera Program, and a winner in the Loren L. Zachary Foundation Competition, Dallas Opera Competition, and Fort Worth Opera’s McCammon Voice Competition.
In advance of the upcoming semester, we spoke to Prof. Treviño over email to discuss his upcoming work at Schulich, his move to Montreal, and more.
What is your teaching philosophy?
As an artist, I have a great desire for a broader sense of meaning and an undeniable need to be part of something more expansive and worthwhile. I strive to inspire not only by the way I perform, but also by sharing the knowledge and wisdom I’ve acquired. I have found such community and fulfillment in teaching. It is an honor to give love, inspiration, and support to a student or a fellow professional.
Teaching requires a vast knowledge of the physical vocal structure as well as a prowess for both scientific and artistic communication. It is important to explain in detail what is happening in the body for students to be in full command of their voice. It is also important to help the student understand their voice in artistic and emotional terms. When I work with a singer, I start off with a basic outline of what I want, then look for the individual strengths of my students. I harness and encourage their natural instincts, even if it is contrary to my opinions. I also make it fun because an educator must balance the serious and the ridiculous, especially when it comes to the theater.
Being a teacher requires a mutual respect. The student must see the teacher as worthwhile and helpful, or else they run the risk of losing that delicate and powerful connection. Studios are no place for abusive language or manipulation. Students must be given an environment of inspiration, happiness, and collaboration as this is where true learning and artistic growth can occur. Above all, we have a responsibility as teachers to shape young minds and hearts towards a more meaningful and worthwhile way of life and to produce a new generation of talented artists who respect themselves and others, and who live a life of integrity and kindness no matter where their paths lead them.
Matthew Treviño sings Danse Macabre by Saint-Saëns
How does your experience performing diverse styles and genres influence your teaching?
I started out singing rock music and was even in a heavy metal band as teen. My later influences were jazz, hip-hop, and popular musicals. Finally, I was classically trained for opera and concert work and introduced to the richness of classical music. I believe that when we teach a voice to sing healthily, the student can sing in any style and genre. Whether belting out a pop standard or signing an opera aria, artistic expression and spiritedness are given a safe path and solid foundation through proper voice training. No matter what background a student has, music training offers a window to a whole new world of possibilities. A voice teacher must convey these ideas through gentleness, intellect, and passion, to help the student arrive at their true potential and arouse a passion of their own.
What excites you most about your new position at the Schulich School of Music?
Upon meeting the faculty and students at McGill, I was instantly impressed with their talent, warmth, passion, and sense of collaboration. They are in it together and I was immediately encouraged to offer myself and my teaching in its truest form. I’m most excited about being part of this family and to be part of an institution that is so well respected and that provides a chance to truly inspire and nurture.
I am also enthusiastic about meeting head-on the challenges we will all face in the coming year with COVID-19. There is nothing more communal and social then art and I am excited to discover new ways to teach, perform, and grow while we slowly get back to normal. I believe that the University will face this challenge with intelligence and courage, and I can't wait to contribute!
Matthew Treviño sings The River from Nyman’s The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
What will you miss most about Texas and what are you most looking forward to in Montreal?
I will of course miss my family and friends but the first thing that popped in my head were Tex-Mex and BBQ! They are so unique to Texas and such a staple to our food heritage. I have already promised many dinner parties to my colleagues and students where I’ll do my best to recreate these humble delicacies in Montreal.
As the food culture in Montreal is strong, I’m excited to sample all the local fare. I also love Europe and Montreal is about as close as you can get to it on our continent! Bring on the architecture, cafes, and history. I also admire the culture of community, mutual respect, and kindness that is often (for good reason) associated with Canada. Raising our child in Quebec will be a privilege as I know he will receive a 1st rate education in an incredibly accepting community.
Oh, and we love snow... Montreal has that, no?