To hear Jacob Soulliere sing is to be transported to another time and place, one where the complexities and sometimes agonies of modern life are soothed through the power of an extraordinary voice.
The 18-year-old aspiring opera singer has been blessed with many gifts, that much is certain. Even through recordings of his performances at Carnegie Hall and Arizona’s own Musical Instrument Museum, the pure skill of his vocal ability shines through.
“Vocal performance is therapy to me,” Soulliere states. “Performing with an orchestra, a choir, or even as a soloist; it’s very therapeutic”
As one listens to Soulliere sing, it becomes apparent how hard the young baritone has worked to achieve his level of talent. From his early days in the Phoenix Boys Choir, to his three-year and counting period of study with the famed mezzo-soprano Mary Sue Hyatt, Soulliere’s entire life has been devoted to music.
Currently, in addition to studying voice with Hyatt, he studies music theory with Nancie Tobison, choral reading and sight singing with Kirk Douglas, and coaches opera with Henri Venanzi.
Soulliere deems them all to be “wonderful mentors,” and is grateful for their expert tutelage.
In fact, some of his favorite moments as a musician have revolved around the time he’s spent and relationships he’s built with mentors.
One of these especially poignant moments was when Soulliere, along with his Boulder Creek High School choir, was invited to perform under the direction of American composer, conductor, and lecturer Z. Randall Stroope at Carnegie Hall.
When Stroope held auditions for the bass solo in one of the pieces, “Soldier Soldier Won’t You Marry Me?”, Soulliere tried out and won the part.
“It was such an honor to be selected out of the numerous mass choirs that were invited,” Soulliere says. “Not only did I connect with Mr. Stroope musically, I also built a wonderful friendship with him. He is so supportive to me and my aspiring opera career.”
Stroope, like many others, continues to guide Soulliere as he progresses on his operatic journey.
For all his success, Soulliere is modest. He’d rather talk about those who have influenced and shaped him than mention all the praise he’s received.
And he’s received quite a bit, considering his young age. He earned an Honorable Mention in the 2015 Arizona MusicFest Young Musicians vocal competition and has placed first for two consecutive years in the Upscale Singers vocal competition.
As part of the award, he received a $500 scholarship and performed as a soloist at the Desert Hills Presbyterian Church.
In 2016, when the Musical Instrument Museum held its Young Musicians Concert, he was one of 15 selected performers, and the only vocalist. With Lincoln Wright on the piano, he performed “Ho capito,” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni and “Che fiero costume d’aligero nume,” from Legrenzi’s Etecole e Polinice.
Soulliere says that it’s a “privilege to sing for audiences around the Phoenix metropolitan area.”
As the future approaches, it’s all onward and upward for Soulliere.
In the next few years, he says he plans to “audition for prestigious music colleges and focus on learning roles that I’m ready for.”
And after that? Soulliere has many big ideas.
“I see myself auditioning for the Metropolitan Opera national council auditions, to performing oratorios and opera around the world.” he states.
With the talent and the drive that Soulliere possesses, it’s not a long shot by any means. One only has to hear him sing, with the gravitas and passion for which he is already famous, to believe that he is headed for the stars.