Edward Gauntt was born and raised in Clifton, Texas, (the “Norwegian
Capital of Texas” with a rich arts tradition, says its Web site) one of
four children in a family that tried to scratch out a living by ranching
on the scrubby plains of central Texas. For years his family attended
Grace Memorial Baptist Church, and it was there that Edward, at age 14,
became the church’s music director. “No one else wanted to do it, and
they had no money to hire anyone,” he recalls. “Even then I was looking
for something- I knew I wouldn’t be very good working with cattle every
day.” He was elected president of the Clifton High School Band, and he
went on to Baylor University in nearby Waco, Texas. He majored in vocal
performance because “I just hadn’t thought about anything else, really.”
Edward Gauntt saw his first opera when he was 19, a performance in Dallas of Carlyle Floyd’s Susannah. “Hmm,” he recalls thinking, “this is pretty interesting.” Soon after, while still at Baylor, he performed the role of the preacher in Susannah.
After receiving his Bachelor degree in music he won a Rotary Scholarship to attend a music academy in Vienna, Austria. He and his new bride, Cae Cooley Gauntt – herself a talented singer and composer -- went together to Vienna. A year after their arrival, in 1980, they both landed roles in Jesus Christ Superstar at the Theater an der Wien; Cae in the lead role of Mary. Then, in 1982, Mr. Gauntt won a spot in the apprentice program at the Wiener Staatsoper (The Vienna State Opera), where he received world-class training. “We were scheduled to be in Vienna for ten months – and we stayed for four years.”
In 1984 Mr. Gauntt joined the Krefeld, Germany opera house. “I sang everything under the sun for a baritone.” He adds, “I think it took about 5 years to reach that point I felt I could call myself an opera singer – I had to learn what to listen for. All I saw at first were these overweight people with carefully shaped voices. What was it all about? It took me a long time to understand. And I still am learning.
“Opera is the type of art you have to experience live. You have to be there and see it, feel it, the vibrations of the voices. You go in and experience something – physically and powerfully.”
Mr. Gauntt says he most enjoys making people laugh. “I’ve had several comic roles. It gives me great pleasure to have people’s lives be lightened for an evening.”
One of his proudest early moments was singing a Wagner opera for the great grandson of the composer – a Texan singing a classic German opera. “The orchestra is huge for Wagner, and you have to sing loud enough to be heard. I remember thinking, I’m a Texan, and I shouldn’t be doing this. But I was accepted and the performance was well received. It was a moment of triumph.”
Over his career he has performed in many of the major operas:
“Being an opera singer I can experience so many lives – but I don’t have
to stop living my own life to do all of it.” In 2005 he released his
first full CD with his wife, “Christmas – Cae & Eddie Gauntt”. Away from
the stage and recording studio, Mr. Gauntt enjoys painting, swimming,
fishing and cooking, as well as being with his family.