OPERA PLACES Zachary Rioux takes us to Munich, Germany

by | Jun 17, 2024 | Artist of the Week, Featured, News

Canadian tenor Zachary Rioux, takes us to Munich, Germany where he is currently a member of the Opera Studio with Bayerische Staatsoper, and preparing the role of Gastone for their upcoming production of La Traviata, running June 18, 2024-June 22, 2025 (info and tickets here).

This quickly rising talent has had a busy past few seasons with performances highlights including the title role in Max und die Superheld:Innen, Parpignol in La Bohème, Erster Brabantischer Edler in Lohengrin, Gherardo in Gianni Schicchi and Un venditore di canzonette in Il Tabarro’s Trittico, Vierter Knappe in Parsifal, Bruto in Respighi’s Lucrezia, all with Bayerische Staatsoper, Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème, and as Lensky in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin with Academy of Vocal Arts, and Cavaradossi in Tosca with Toronto City Opera. He has also had success on the competition circuit receiving prizes  at Neue Stimmen in 2022 including a Talent Development Award, and has won second prize at the Mario Lanza Competition in Philadelphia, a Gold Medal (High Distinction) at the Rising Stars Grand Prix International Music Competition Berlin, and a Gold Medal at the Vienna International Music Competition. Next season, Zachery will be continuing with the Opera Studio and will performing Normanno in Lucia di Lammermoor, A Messenger in Aida, Jeppo in Lucrezia Borgia, Hahn in The Cunning Little Vixen, Royal Herold in Don Carlo, and Ctésippe in Fauré’s Pénélope.

Zachary was kind enough to share with us what his experience has been like in his new home of Munich, Germany, including the not to be missed Bavarian Oktoberfest, the best bar to find the local opera singers after a show, and which museums he has visited. Read on to find out more.

City where you’re working?
Munich, Germany.

How long are you working on contract?
I’ve been working at the Bayerische Staatsoper as a member of their opera studio since September of 2023 and will be returning for another season in the studio! This season I’m now singing Gastone in La Traviata, have performed in La Bohème, Lohengrin, Parsifal, Il Trittico, Respighi’s Lucrezia, and sang the title role in a children’s opera called Max und die Superheld:innen. Next season at the Staatsoper, I will be performing as Normanno in Lucia di Lammermoor, A Messenger in Aida, Jeppo in Lucrezia Borgia, Hahn in The Cunning Little Vixen, Royal Herold in Don Carlo, and Ctésippe in Fauré’s Pénélope.

What’s the opera house like?
The Bayerische Staatsoper is BEAUTIFUL. The first time I stood on the National Theatre stage I couldn’t help but think of all of my idols who have performed there before me. We have a busy schedule running from September through July, and the performances are often well attended. The audience is always so enthusiastic about opera, and they always expect excellence, as the company received the “Opera House of the Year” award at the 2023 International Opera Awards!

Where is the most peaceful place in the city?
The most peaceful place for me is the English Garden early in the morning! I live nearby and I often take my dog Jenna on walks there – it’s a huge park in the city, but it’s often very busy in the afternoon and evenings so my favourite time to go is earlier in the morning and can really enjoy nature without having to leave the city!

Best coffee or tea?
My favourite coffee SO FAR is called ALRIGHTY – it’s a Faretrade roastery and coffee shop near the Ostbahnhof – I usually order the hand filter and it is SO smooth.

Coolest bar or restaurant you’ve been to?
One of my favourite places to eat is actually right next to the opera called Brenner! You’ll find many of the singers and employees enjoying dinner at Brenner or meeting for drinks there after a show!

An activity you have done that is unique to the area? If you’re in Munich in the Fall, you NEED to get yourself some lederhosen or a dirndl and go to Oktoberfest! Even if you don’t drink, it’s such an iconic part of Bavarian culture that it’s worth it just for the experience! I went when I first moved to Munich and didn’t buy lederhosen so I really missed out, but the atmosphere was incredible.

Is there something unexpected that happens locally that you discovered? I didn’t know this before moving here, but even though it’s a major city, many businesses are closed on Sundays, including grocery stores and pharmacies! I was surprised on my first Sunday after moving here as I hadn’t bought groceries and went to the store only to find it closed! Luckily though, restaurants are still running on Sundays, so if ever you forget to get groceries you still have options!

How did you find your accommodation?
The opera studio usually helps find people a place to live when they join! They have some apartments that the studio singers can live in that are reasonably priced, but unfortunately not enough for everyone, so this season I luckily was able to rent a room from another one of the Staatsoper’s employees, and next season I will be moving into one of the apartments reserved for studio members!

What’s the most important thing you think of when it comes to finding accommodation as a singer?
I think it’s important to use your connections – first ask the company or anyone you know who works or has worked there if they have any leads for affordable housing in that city! Munich is the most expensive city in Germany, so if that’s something you worry about it’s worth it to go through all of your connections if you have any before finding a place yourself online!

Have you had a chance to explore some galleries or museums?
I have only visited the National Museum and the Haus der Kunst so far, but I plan to see more next season!

Is there anything you recommend beyond what we’ve asked here?
If you’re moving to Germany and like to exercise, I highly recommend getting the EGYM Wellpass! It’s a subscription service that gives you access to many of the fitness and wellness centres throughout the country! I only got it recently, but it has been a LIFE CHANGER. With it I can try out different gyms, go to spas, get discounts on massages, go bouldering, take dance classes and so much more, and it’s cheaper than paying for a membership at just one of the gyms that it gives you access to! (I promise this isn’t sponsored, I’m just very excited that I got it this month!)


©Wilfried Hösl
Bayerische Staatsoper
©Zachary Rioux
©Zachary Rioux
English Garden

La Traviata
 Bayerische Staatsoper

June 18, 2024 – June 22, 2025

CONDUCTORS: Francesco Lanzillotta/Speranza Scappucci
DIRECTOR: Günter Krämer

 LIGHTING: Wolfgang Göbbel
CHORUS: Franz Obermair
VIOLETTA: Nadezhda Pavlova/Yaritza Véliz
FLORA: Xenia Puskarz Thomas/Natalie Lewis
ANNINA: Emily Sierra/ Ekaterine Buachidze
ALFREDO: Bogdan Volkov/ Liparit Avetisyan
 GERMONT: George Petean/Simon Keenlyside
GASTONE: Zachary Rioux/Granit Musliu
MARQUIS D’OBIGNY: Milan Siljanov/Thomas Mole

GUISEPPE: Joel Annmo/Samuel Stopford
Bayerisches Staatsorchester
Chorus of the Bayerische Staatsoper

Men don’t fall in love with courtesans! That’s the opinion of Alfredo’s father after his son moves in with the mortally ill Violetta Valéry. In her love for Alfredo Violetta even agrees. She leaves him, dies poor, ill – still dreaming of the happiness of true love. One of Verdi’s most beloved operas continues to hold the mirror up to society and its hypocritical morality. An exemplary production! See it!

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