May 3, 2023

Henry Griffin (BM ’23) is a featured performer in MSM Undergraduate Opera Theatre’s production of L’incoronazione di Poppea MAY 4 & 5

Meet Henry Griffin who sings the role of Ottone in the upcoming MSM Undergraduate Opera Theatre production of L’incoronazione di Poppea taking place at The Riverside Theatre MAY 4 and 5.

(Photo credit: Adam Sisler)

Baritone Henry Griffin studies with Marlena Malas at MSM and is graduating on May 18  with his Bachelor of Music degree. During his time at MSM, he’s performed in numerous productions including Broadway Babies (2022), Junior Opera Theatre (2022), Fauré’s Requiem (2022), Mozart’s Requiem (2021), and was recently part of the Gerda Lissner Foundation Showcase held January 2023.

Henry talks here about L’incoronazione di Poppea, his time at MSM, and what’s next for him.

MSM Undergraduate Opera Theatre presents

L’incoronazione di Poppea

MAY 4 & 5 | THURS & FRI
7:30 PM

Jackson McKinnon, Conductor
Chloe Treat, Director

Free, Tickets Required 

The Riverside Theatre 
91 Claremont Ave
New York, NY 10027

Why should people come and see this production?

Henry: This production is staged in the theme of the television show The Bachelor, so whether you are a fan or detractor of the show, come for a solid laugh! There is a rose ceremony, gods doubling as production assistants, drag, an attempted murder, heartbreak, lust, and romance — I mean, what more can you really ask for in an opera?

Can you tell us about the plot of L’incoronazione di Poppea?

Henry: After a brief exposition of the gods Fortune, Virtue, and Love, the scene shifts to Ottone who has just returned home to Poppea to find Nerone’s soldiers guarding the palace — meaning Nerone is romancing his Poppea! Seneca warns Nerone against marrying Poppea for moral reasons, but Nerone dismisses him. Meanwhile, Ottone is rejected by Poppea and scorns her and all women — before promptly falling for another woman, Drusilla. This is not Ottone’s greatest moment, though he is not known for having particularly feminist qualities. Mercury, to Nerone’s great satisfaction, announces the death of Seneca before a murder plot is revealed: Ottavia implores Ottone to kill Poppea in an act of vengeance.

The town mourns the death of Seneca while Poppea rejoices. Ottone enters with a knife in hand, disguised as his new lover Drusilla, to kill Poppea, but is stopped at the last second by the goddess of Love. Arnalta finds Drusilla who was rejoicing about her assumed death of Poppea, but Drusilla is seized and brought to Nerone who ultimately pardons her when Ottone reveals it was he who tried to kill Poppea — and he too is pardoned.

They both are exiled and rejoice at the prospect of a life together, while Ottavia leaves in mourning and Poppea is crowned queen and the goddess of beauty at the end.

“Always remember to surround yourself with people who constantly lift you up and encourage you. A strong support system of trustworthy friends is invaluable!”

Tell us about the role you’re singing and how the rehearsal process been.

Henry: I’m singing the role of Ottone who is possibly the shadiest character in this opera. He is clearly a womanizer and most definitely did not pass his background check or Title 9 training before becoming a “production assistant” on “The Bachelor.” He is the discarded lover of Poppea who then immediately rebounds with Drusilla. Come watch to see if you ship Ottone and Drusilla!

Why did you choose to study Voice at MSM?

Henry: I chose to study voice at MSM because of my brilliant voice teacher Marlena Malas. She has been the greatest artistic influence and inspiration of my life and I will take with me for my entire life the many pearls of vocal, artistic, and philosophical wisdom I’ve gleaned from her. Her biggest reminder to me: be patient.

What is your favorite MSM memory?

Henry: My favorite MSM memories are singing the baritone solos in the Mozart and Faure Requiems with the MSM chorus and symphony orchestra led by the one and only Kent Tritle, another mentor during my time here to whom I have to give a huge shout-out!

Henry Griffin (BM '23) performs Mozart Requiem with MSM Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Choir conducted by Kent Tritle, Fall 2021

Any fun summer plans?

Henry: This summer, I will attend two vocal programs. In June, I will be the inaugural voice fellow at the Mostly Modern Festival where I will sing on several premieres, and I will also serve as a staff pianist as part of my fellowship duties (shout out to Jiayin Li, my MSM piano teacher!). In July, I will be a young artist at the Verbier Academy in the Swiss Alps in both their song and opera programmes, and I will sing a Soldier role in the mainstage opera Wozzeck alongside Matthias Goerne who will sing the title role.

What would senior Henry say to freshman Henry?

Henry: I would probably have a lot to say to him (cringe), but perhaps most of all, always remember to surround yourself with people who constantly lift you up and encourage you. A strong support system of trustworthy friends is invaluable!

Henry and his class mates after MSM Undergraduate Opera Scenes, Fall 2023

What’s one thing about you that might surprise people?

Henry: Apart from music, I am a serious birder (birdwatcher). Throughout my four years at MSM, I have chased and photographed rare birds on day trips in as far-flung locations as Rhode Island, Connecticut, Jersey, Montauk, Orient Point, Bear Mountain, the offshore Atlantic Canyon on a boat trip, and many other locations in between. I gained countless new “life birds” during my time studying here. So, if you ever had the misfortune of seeing me leaving Andersen Hall at 5am on a Saturday, chances are it was to chase a rare bird. If you want to see some of my birding adventures and photos, follow my blog here:

Photo taken Henry on a day trip to Fisher Island, NY

    Email This Page

    Email Message

    Page Reference
    (will be sent in email)