Student Spotlight: David Govertsen

Henry Gordon

David Govertsen
Major: Music

David Govertsen grew up in a musical family, but while he initially set forth to play an instrument, he eventually took to singing.

The switch paid off, leading him to a full scholarship at Northern Illinois University before embarking on a graduate program at Northwestern University. Finishing up his graduate studies, Govertsen began the next chapter of his career at the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

“This program is one of the best programs in the country and it was an honor to be selected,” he said. “After I started singing at Lyric, I had many opportunities both in house and with other groups in and out of Chicago. At the Lyric I sang roles in ‘Magic Flute,’ ‘Boris Godunov,’ ‘Die Meistersinger von Nurmberg’ and ‘Werther.’”

Govertsen’s career has taken off since that experience. Among his many early credits, he sang the title role in “Don Pasquale” with his colleagues at the Ryan Center, he sang the Bonze in “Madama Butterfly” at the Lyric, and he made his Carnegie Hall debut as the Herald in “Otello” with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Muti.  

Most recently, he created the roles of David/Bonobo in Matthew Aucoin’s new opera “Second Nature” for Lyric Opera Unlimited; sang in double-bills at Chicago Opera Theater (“The Emperor of Atlantis”/”The Clever One”), Santa Fe Opera (“Impresario”/”Le Rossignol”), and the newly launched Chicago Theatre-Opera (“The Telephone”/”Hello Out There”); and worked with the Tulsa Opera, Main Street Opera, and Chicago Fringe Opera. On the concert stage, he appeared with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Bach Week Festival, Apollo Chorus and the Fox Valley Orchestra. 

In 2015, he stepped in on short notice at Lyric Opera of Chicago where he replaced the ill Peter Rose as the producer La Roche opposite Renée Fleming and Anne Sophie von Otter in “Capriccio.” He also appeared on short notice as Arkel in “Pelléas et Mélisande” and as a soloist in James MacMillan’s “Quickening” with the Grant Park Orchestra. He returns to Lyric this season as the Duke of Verona in “Roméo et Juliette.”  

Considering his substantial success, Govertsen actually started his career playing music, as he came from a family of trombone players. He played with COD’s student jazz group, but as he continued his studies, his brother encouraged him to sing instead.

“I wasn’t all that great of a trombone player and I was on the wait list for a number of schools,” he said. “My brother suggested the singing and NIU gave me a full scholarship. Singing wasn’t anything I ever considered before attending COD.”

Govertsen played trombone with several student music groups at COD, gaining experience as he determined what career path to take.

“It was a great experience because I got to work in small group settings, whereas other colleges may have had two if not three times as many students,” he said. “It was the right fit for me.”

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