Cody Quattlebaum, Bass-Baritone: As a Teenager Alone in the Basement in the Dark, Listening to Bach

Listening to the music of Bach was a major factor in the development of Cody’s fascination with the art form. One of his favorite works, which he listened to over and over, was Glenn Gould’s interpretation of Variation 25 of the Goldberg Variations. “There is an air of acute tension and feeling,” he explains. “The counterpoint creates the sensation of little strings attached to the brain, and each step through the harmonic progression is like a little tug of a tooth you’re ready to pull.” 

Cody grew up in suburban Ellicott City, Maryland. He credits his primary and secondary school music teachers with instilling in him an interest in music and arts. In his junior year of high school, he enrolled in voice lessons with a private teacher, Carol Schuster Yunkunis, thus opening the door to classical singing. 

Although Cody, now 23, began singing in choirs and musicals at a young age, continuing as a professional was not on his agenda - in fact, he had planned to attend college for business or design. But after just a little persuasion, he applied exclusively to several music schools, and was accepted into the top-rated College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, OH. After a semester of getting acclimated to college, he made a habit of attending concerts and recitals during all of his free time, sometimes showing up to two performances in one evening. It was this high exposure, he says, which lead him to fall in love of a wide spectrum of musical styles.

Under the tutelage of Kenneth Shaw, he decided to fully commit to a career as a singer. “I notice many people wait to fall in love with something before they approach it with energy and focus. But I have found that I must focus on something and put forth my best effort before I am able to fall in love with it,” Cody says. “Upon deciding to pursue a life of music, I shouted out and awaited an affirming echo. I’m still performing, so I suppose I heard something reassuring.”

Many of Cody’s classmates at CCM had already studied music intensely for several years prior to college. A few had attended performing arts high schools, with focused studies in opera. Cody’s competitive nature prompted him to work endlessly to catch up, thus propelling his immersion in classical music.

Cody, who has often been told he was a natural actor, feels that opera is a perfect fit for him, although he admits one of his greatest pleasures is recital singing. “In many ways, it is one of the most difficult styles of performance”, he claims. “It’s all about your interpretation of the music and text, which can be extremely fulfilling. On the other hand, poor preparation of just one song can ruin the whole evening for you and with recitals, there is no one to blame but yourself. It seems dramatic, but ultimately, your assessment of your performance determines whether the applause is made up of accolades or consolation. It sounds stressful, but this is the kind of pressure under which I tend to thrive.”

Concerts, such as A Bach Family Christmas with The Cecilia Chorus of New York, propose different challenges, but offer a great deal of security. “You’ve got the Maestro right in front of you, leading you; you’ve got a full orchestra and the chorus nearby. Even though I am sensitive to my fellow collaborators, I tend to practice a degree of tunnel vision in solo singing. Every bit of text must have meaning, and it takes deep inward focus to create that experience.”

Bass-Baritone Cody Quattlebaum, from Ellicott City, Maryland, is currently earning an M.M. in Voice Performance at The Juilliard School. He received his bachelor’s degree from CCM - University of Cincinnati. He has performed Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, Lautsprecher in Der Kaiser von Atlantis, Der Fischer in Matsukaze, Melisso in Alcina, and Colonel in a premier workshop of Daniel Catán’s Meet John Doe. He recently performed Guglielmo in Così fan Tutte with Merola Opera. He won the Seybold-Russell Award in the 2015 Corbett Opera competition, the 1st place and “Audience Favorite” award at the 2016 James Toland competition, and 2nd place in the 2016 Gerda Lissner Liederkranz competition. In February 2017, he will perform Claudio in Handel’s Agrippina in Alice Tully Hall and Wilson Theater in New York City. He will also perform under the baton of Maestro Michael Morgan with the Oakland Symphony next season.