Kimani Troy Iba has been singing for as long as he can remember.
He started singing in the choir at Lake Washington United Methodist Church as a small child.
“I started singing solos at church and found I really liked singing,” he said.
His passion for singing grew as he went through school at Rose Hill Middle School (then Rose Hill Junior High) and Lake Washington High School in Kirkland. With every choir and musical he participated in, he knew he wanted to pursue a career in the arts.
“I loved singing and acting,” he said.
Now, the 26-year-old is singing opera.
Iba will take center stage in an international opera production this month in Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi” with Opera Mariposa in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The production features a diverse ensemble cast from across three continents; Iba appears in the role of Gherardo, and will also perform as a principal soloist in the Italian opera scenes presented alongside the one-act opera.
He knew he wanted to pursue opera when he was in ninth grade. It was during his music class. The teacher put on a video of an Italian opera.
“It was amazing,” he said. “It was so beautiful and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”
To make his dream a reality, Iba studied singing at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Iba is a fast-rising young tenor who was recently awarded the top prize at the Washington region’s National Association of Teachers of Singing Competition. He has already sung this season as a soloist with companies including Seattle Opera and Lyric Opera Northwest. His role in “Gianni Schicchi” marks his Canadian role debut.
“It’s so exciting to be part of this international production,” Iba said. “‘Gianni Schicchi’ is such a terrific show, and many people consider it to be one of the funniest operas of all time. My character Gherardo is a scheming family member who will stop at nothing to inherit a fortune. It’s a great role to play —especially because I get to share the stage with so many amazing artists.”
In addition to performing as Gherardo, Iba will appear as the Duke from Verdi’s Rigoletto and Ernesto from Donizetti’s Don Pasquale during the Italian scenes in the production. He has also been invited to become an international member of Opera Mariposa’s Repertory Concert Artist Program, which presents commissioned concerts throughout the year.
Stage director, Jeanine Fynn, has worked with Opera Mariposa for about 10 years. However, this is the first production she has worked on from start to finish. This is also her third time doing “Gianni Schicchi.” Over the years, she said working on the same shows allows for her to see actors and singers mature and grow in their craft, as well as meet new talent.
“It’s always great to see the same actors and see how they’ve grown,” she said. “But it’s also great to meet new performers and giving them a chance to shine. Kimani is such a delight.”
Artistic director, Jacqueline Ko, said Iba was an obvious choice for the role.
“During auditions we heard amazing singers from all around the globe, from Italy to Israel to Istanbul. Kimani is a perfect fit not only because of his great voice, but because of his musicianship and the personality he brings to his work,” she said in a release. “‘Gianni Schicchi’ is an incredibly complex work from a musical standpoint, because it’s basically an hour-long family argument set to music. Kimani navigates the technical challenges of the opera so well that he makes it look easy.”
Iba said he’s looking forward to the opening of the production on Nov. 15.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “This is exactly what I want to do and things like this are very reaffirming of that.”
To learn more about Opera Mariposa, visit operamariposa.com.