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Rock Musician Turns To Opera

April 20, 1987

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) _ Rob Eckert’s roots are in rock ‘n’ roll, but the aspiring tenor says ″Luciano Pavarotti’s Greatest Hits″ got him all shook up over opera.

The 21-year-old musician said he became obsessed with opera two years ago when listening to the Italian tenor. He quit his job as guitarist in a rock band, learned Italian and studied in Italy for two months.

″It really had a weird effect on me,″ said Eckert, a sophomore voice student at the University of Iowa. ″When I put this tape on, it kind of shook me up.″

″It hit him like a thunderbolt,″ said Beaumont Glass, head of Iowa’s Opera Theater, where he is directing Eckert as Don Ottavio in ″Don Giovanni.″ Eckert’s enthusiasm for his new love is matched by his talent, Glass said.

″He puts so much love and appreciation into what he does and really is going to have a very fine career,″ Glass said. ″He has what promises to be a first class tenor voice.″

Eckert studied violin and piano as a young child. His rock ‘n’ roll career began in seventh grade, when his parents gave him a guitar.

″I instantly got into rock bands,″ he said. ″When I got to college, I was in a pretty good band.″

Eckert’s father, Robert, chairs Iowa’s voice department. His mother, Doris, teaches voice at Cornell College.

The youth says opera takes most of his energy.

″The other things are things I can do and have fun with, ″ he said. ″But opera says, ‘if you want to be able to sing me, you better work hard.’ Because it’s so difficult.″

But Eckert confesses that the confines of formal music have led him to resume his old musical interest, writing songs and playing in a rock band.

″Because in rock ‘n’ roll, there are no rules. You do anything you want. You can sing any way you want.″

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