Interview with Opera for Peace Emerging Artist William Guanbo Su

29th December 2022

Bass singer William Guanbo Su is an Opera for Peace Emerging Artist. He participated in the digital concert celebrating World Opera Day 2020 organised by Opera for Peace and won several prizes, including the 2019 Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition Grand Finals. He recently performed at the Boston Lyric Opera in La bohème by Puccini as Colline and at the Austin Opera in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia in the role of Basilio. For his 2022/2023 season, he will be performing in some of the most prestigious opera houses, such as The Metropolitan Opera of New York. We were able to ask him a few questions concerning his personal motivations and his projects with Opera for Peace.


Have you always wanted to be an opera singer ?


William Guanbo Su: No, I started to sing as a hobby and was kicked out from children’s chorus at the age of 12 because my voice changed to a baritone instead of child soprano. From there, I started to take private voice lessons and later on switched to opera.


When did you know you wanted to be an opera singer ?


WGS: When I was about 18 years old, I’ve already been winning classical singing
competitions and many voice teachers asked me if I wanted to do Opera as a career.


How to prepare a role debut ?


WGS: A role debut is all about repetitions. The repetition of the preparation: where you can go over the music with your coach “a million” times! The repetition of the rehearsal process: where you repeat the staging while listening to a defined recording “a thousand” times! And the repetition of performance day: where you need to review the whole opera “a hundred” times before you go on stage.


According to you, which characters are the most interesting to interpret ?


WGS: As a bass, there aren’t many options. But I personally very much enjoy interpreting villain characters, such as Zuniga; Sparafucile; Mefistofele, etc.


What advice would you give to a young singer ?


WGS: Be true to yourself, understand your strengths and weaknesses. Knowing that you can’t be a complete artist that can handle every genre – there is always the repertoire you should be doing and there is some you should wait for or never touch.


What did Opera for Peace offer you ?


WGS: The grand vision of singing with the opera industry worldwide, to be able to collaborate with artists and create impact in the business. Most importantly, I was able to travel to Australia and work with the Opera Australia Young Artist program for a month through Opera for Peace (right before the Covid-19 pandemic).


How did you discover Opera for Peace?


WGS: My mentor Brian Speck from Houston Grand Opera and Julia Lagahuzère reached out to me and asked me to become an Emerging Artist of Opera for Peace. And I was honored to be part of the family!


What do you think is the biggest issue for opera today ? As a singer or just in general.


WGS: There have been many issues in the business, but what I would say is – I’ve seen them change one by one. And I’m positive that the people who are in charge of making those changes are doing a great job!


By the end of the season 2022/2023, you will be able to see William Guanbo Su at :


The Metropolitan Opera in The Magic Flute, Mozart
Houston Grand Opera in Salome, Strauss
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in Susannah, Carlisle Floyd
Opera Maine in La Cenerentola, Rossini
Grand Teton Music Festival in Madama Butterfly, Puccini


29/12/2022- By Judith Le Blan