Smethport Area High School graduate and Seattle Opera tenor Gino Lucchetti, who will appear with Bradford soprano Marissa Buchheit at Opera Night on June 5 at The Option House in Bradford, has ably balanced his musical career with that of his full-time job as a senior staff scientist in Washington State.
“I tell people that in my experience, a good scientist takes his science to an art, and a good artist takes his art to a science,” Lucchetti said. “Doing both, benefits my creativity, which I believe is the most important element of science and art.”
Their program will feature operatic arias, operetta selections and popular Italian and Broadway favorites.
After graduating from high school in 1974, Lucchetti went on to the University of Washington, where he graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in fisheries science. He also earned a master of science degree in fisheries and wildlife sciences from Virginia Tech.
For 20 years, he has been a staff scientist with King County in Seattle, the largest municipal government in the Pacific Northwest, where he conducts, publishes and presents a wide range of environmental research and analysis.
Lucchetti grew up in a musical family.
“Before relocating to Pennsylvania, I was born and raised in the Chicago area where my mother and father both performed opera and classical music so I heard it on occasion early on,” he said.
Besides his family, all of whom are artistic or creative, Lucchetti pointed to two retired Smethport teachers who influenced his musical career. He said, “I fondly remember Mr. Kitchen, the elementary music teacher, who had me sing a few solos for my sixth grade graduation at the Hazel Hurst Elementary School, and then there was Bernie Reap and her memorable ‘Swingin’ 70s’ shows.”
Like most young children, he became more interested in contemporary music — folk, pop and rock — since he considered that his musical calling and didn’t listen to much opera or classical.
All that changed on one lazy afternoon in the 1980s.
“I was watching a PBS live from the Metropolitan broadcast of the now famous Sutherland/Horne/Pavarotti concert. I was enthralled by it, especially Pavarotti and thought ‘I could do that.’
“After that, I discovered Caruso, Gigli, Bjornling and many other famous tenors of the past and really got hooked.”
Lucchetti has performed roles for various opera companies and orchestras in the Pacific Northwest, including the Seattle Opera and Seattle Symphony. He appears regularly with the Seattle Opera Guild, where he has performed roles that included Rodolfo, Duke of Mantua, MacDuff and King Kaspar.
Not only do opera stars spend countless hours with voice training, but they also must be capable of singing in many languages. For Lucchetti, that meant instruction in Italian, French, German, Spanish, Russian and Latin. Much to his credit, in one performance, he sang at least one number in each of these languages.
Lucchetti’s operatic roles have earned him high praise from music critics. Bernard Jacobson, who has written extensively about opera in London and Chicago, reviewed his role as Manrico in Verdi’s Il Trovatare and said, “Lucchetti showed himself to be a better singer than some I have encountered on the most famous operatic stages in the world.”
Legendary soprano, Jane Eaglen, remarked, “High notes so natural and vigorous that no one should mess with them.”
Buchheit, a member of the Class of 2010 at Bradford Area High School, has been accepted to study theatre arts/acting at the prestigious Conservatory of Performing Arts at Pittsburgh’s Point Park University. Of the 1,000 applicants for this school, only 50 were chosen — 25 for acting and 25 for musical theatre. Asked about her acceptance in this program, she said, “I feel really happy, really lucky.”
She is the daughter of Pete and Karen Buchheit and has been performing in musical theatre — singing and dancing — since the age of three.
Buchheit has studied voice with Kathryn Black of Little Valley, N.Y., for the past four years and acting with Anne Marie Ferrara of the University of Buffalo for one year. She has also studied at Victoria Bussert’s Music Theatre Intensive at Baldwin-Wallace College, U.S. Performing Arts Camp for Musical Theatre at Oberlin College and Camp Broadway at Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo. She took dance instruction at Peggy Johsnon’s Dance Studio.
She won the Bradford’s Got Talent at First Night 2010. Also this year, she was soloist/dancer/choreographer for Kiwanis Kapers.
Most recently, Buchheit had the lead role of Carmen Diaz in “Fame” at Bradford High and choreographed the production.
Another favorite role is that of Sharpay in Bradford Little Theatre’s production of “Disney’s High School Musical.”
At Opera Night, Buchheit will sing two classical and two Broadway selections.
“It should be a lot of fun,” she said.