Metropolitan Opera Baritone to Perform on Big Island


Hawaii Performing Arts Festival (HPAF) announced today that it will present Tim Willson of the Metropolitan Opera in two appearances on Hawaii Island.  Willson, who has performed with internationally acclaimed opera stars around the world, will present “Center Stage:  My Life at the Met”, on Thursday, May 3 at Isaacs Art Gallery in Kamuela, and “May Memories,” Saturday, May 5 at a private home in Captain Cook.  Proceeds from these events go toward HPAF’s 2018 scholarship fund.

Willson’s career would be the envy of any performer. “I was lucky to sing with Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo many times in solo roles and acting roles at the Met,” Willson said. “For pure voice, it has to be Pavarotti. It was just amazing to hear him live. The audience would roar after an aria from him, and deservedly so. It was a primal, exciting sound. What you don’t hear on the recordings is how loud it was. Wow!”

When asked about Placido Domingo, Willson observed, “Domingo’s voice was almost as good, but he lacked the spinning easy high notes.  His voice was darker and for many roles that were better.  Also, he could do a fine job of acting.  Pavarotti struggled with that or did not care too much about it.”

Performing with these world-famous artists kept Willson on his toes. “Pavarotti was something of a practical joker on stage. In one scene from “Luisa Miller” by Verdi, he caught me off guard. I was playing a spy. I was to tell him what I knew, expecting to be paid. He would toss me a little leather bag with money in it. I would bow and leave…at least that’s how it went in rehearsal.  In the first performance, instead of giving a nice little toss, he zeroed in a fastball right in the center of my stomach. It bounced 10 feet back into the middle of the stage, so I had to go get it, scowling, then turn and leave. He thought that was very funny.”

Willson’s Hawaii performances will be accompanied by Val Underwood, Artistic Director of the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, a life-long friend. “Performing with Val is always a joy– steadfast, solid, proficient,” Willson said. “There is a sense of calm when Val plays which gives a performer great confidence. Who could ask for more?”


Thursday, May 3, 4 pm at Isaacs Art Gallery in Waimea.  “Center Stage: My Life at the Met.”  Mr. Willson will share memories, songs, and stories from his years at the Met. Light refreshments will be served.  Seating is extremely limited.

Saturday, May 5 at 2 pm at a private home in Captain Cook, “May Memories”, a sampling of comedy, Gershwin, Gilbert & Sullivan and Irish music.  Light pupu and libations served.  Seating is extremely limited.  

Tickets available at or 808-333-7378.  

* Musicians and venue proprietors lead complicated lives: it’s advisable to check in advance to confirm engagements.


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