By Pat Ciarrocchi
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Friday night, center stage at the Academy of Music, Opera Philadelphia opens its season with a big man, who has a big voice.
The opera is Verdi’s Nabucco.
The artist is Morris Robinson who loved music, but played football — that is until he discovered his voice.
In opera, this is a bass in action.
“The voice type as it goes lower and lower, they become more and more rare. And I’m fortunate. I’m a bass. You don’t have to be a very good bass to have a career,” Robinson said.
Robinson, a big man with a big voice, who dominates the Academy of Music stage in the role of Zaccaria in Verdi’s classic opera, Nabucco.
“There’s so much drama. There’s a love triangle. There’s fighting. There’s war, there’s blood. It’s all on stage here live,” he said.
Robinson found the operatic stage 14 years ago, at age 30.
Until then, it was all college football, an All-American offensive guard.
“No team is very short on somebody grabbing you by the facemask and kicking your butt and saying look, you’re screwing up. You’re either out of here or you’re going to play,” Robinson said.
A perfect match in spirit for his high priest role.
As the 72 member chorus of Jewish slaves sings the opera’s center piece, Va Pensiero, they cry for their lost homeland.
“I interrupt that silence and say hey, what are you crying about. This is not who we are. We are a strong people and we will fight,” he said.
On Saturday night, Maestro Corrado Rovaris and Opera Philadelphia will bring Nabucco on a giant screen broadcast to Independence Mall.
Tickets are free, but you must register online.
“It’s really the power of music. It’s so nice that we’re not able to explain because it’s the magic part of our job,” Rovaris said.
The magic of Nabucco unfolds for five performances beginning Friday night.