PERFORMER – Career Highlights
At the age of 19, Thaddeus Motyka was invited by Maristella de Panizza Lorch to make his formal recital debut, INCONTRO COL BEL CANTO, at CASA ITALIANA of COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, singing Italian "arie antiche", Mozart lieder, and arias by Handel.
The following year, Thaddeus (known then “Ted”, and later “Tad”) was engaged by Artistic Director William Mounte-Burke to make his professional performing debut with Off-Broadway’s LIGHT OPERA OF MANHATTAN, the only year-round operetta company in the U.S.
He became the youngest leading tenor in the company’s history.
In his two and a half-year contract, he gave more than 200 performances of ten leading roles in the Gilbert & Sullivan repertoire (Frederic PIRATES, Ralph Rackstraw PINAFORE, Nanki-Poo MIKADO, Marco GONDOLIERS, Luis GONDOLIERS, Richard Dauntless RUDDIGORE, Edwin TRIAL BY JURY, Lord Tolloller IOLANTHE, Lieutenant the Duke of Dunstable PATIENCE, and Colonel Fairfax YEOMEN).
He was especially honored to play a principal part in both the company’s SAVOYARD MASQUE and NEW YEAR’S EVE GALA, sharing the stage with such notables as Eleanor Steber, Irra Pettina, Walter Abel, and Robert Rounseville.
Operetta continued to play a major role in his performing, and soon he added many concerts of music by Franz Lehar, Johann Strauss, Victor Herbert, Sigmund Romberg, and Rudolf Friml to his repertoire, appearing with Stephanie Sundine, Margot Moser, Carmen Peterson, and the legendary John Raitt, among numerous others, in theatres as varied as Wolf Trap’s FILENE CENTER and New York City’s PLAYBOY CLUB.
In music theatre, he played the roles of both The Boy and El Gallo in THE FANTASTICKS, Charles in THE MAN WITH A LOAD OF MISCHIEF, Edward Rutledge in 1776 (on July 4th of the United State Bicentennial), Billy Bigelow in CAROUSEL, and The King in THE KING & I.
He excelled in performances of experimental contemporary opera at Lincoln Center’s BRUNO WALTER AUDITORIUM, and was very proud to pay tribute to his Eastern European background in a concert at THE GARDEN STATE ARTS CENTER, singing a program of the songs of Chopin in Polish before an audience of ten thousand.
THE GONDOLIERS (Gilbert & Sullivan), Act II: "I am a courtier grave and serious"; Role of "Marco Palmieri": (l. to r.)Tad Motyka (sic), Cynthia Edwards, John Nelson, Abbey Sommer Kurnit, Murray Nesbitt; THE VILLAGE LIGHT OPERA, 1974; Ronald W. Noll, cond.
THE FANTASTICKS (Schmidt & Jones), Act I: "The Rape Ballet"; Role of "Matt, The Boy"; (l. to r.) Richard Kramer, William Grange, William Bond, Tad Motyka (sic), Annie Gillette, Sally Mitchell; THE THOMAS PLAYHOUSE, 1974; Robert de Coriolis, Mus. Dir.
DESIGNER – Career Highlights
Throughout his years at REGIS HIGH SCHOOL, Thaddeus distinguished himself as a designer and illustrator, creating program covers for school events, and in his senior year, page ornaments and illustrations for the school’s literary magazine, of which he was the Art Editor.
In the era before “Installations” had a name, he transformed the school auditorium into the New Orleans French Quarter for a Mardi Gras-themed dance – an environmental maze of painted iron grillwork, house fronts, and alleyways.
The quality and variety of these projects led the school’s Artist-In-Residence, Edward Lavin, S.J., to suggest an apprenticeship – not with himself, but with Helen Farr Sloane of The New York School.
The two years of this intensive independent study gave him his classical technique.
Seeing the Rome Opera’s production of LE NOZZE DI FIGARO – directed by Luchino Visconti, conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini, and designed by Filippo Sanjust - fused his love of the visual arts with his nascent musical talents, and gave him both the direction and the impetus he needed.
Declining the honor of a full scholarship in Fine Art from HAMILTON COLLEGE, where he would have continued as Mrs. (John) Sloane’s student, he chose instead to study Art History and Italian at Columbia University, under the mentorship of David Rosand, Howard Hibbard, Carl-Ludwig Selig, and Ennio Rao.
At the same time he began his study of voice, and attended many performances at Lincoln Center and wherever else opera might be found in New York City.
He began designing scenic elements and program covers for THE GARDEN STATE OPERA, and soon thereafter was engaged by THE LIGHT OPERA OF MANHATTAN.
In addition to performing the leading tenor roles for several seasons, he designed the scenery and costumes for the company’s new production of THE MIKADO, and was specially commissioned - with funds from the New York State Council on The Arts - to design the scenery for LOOM’s wildly successful presentation of PATIENCE.
His knowledge of the visual arts led him not only to assemble but to work hand in hand with an extraordinary team of young American designers at THE CHAMBER OPERA THEATRE OF NEW YORK, of which he was the General Director.
Under his leadership, Wade Giampa (scenery), James Nadeaux (costumes), and Judy Rasmussen and Randy Becker (lighting) meticulously and lovingly developed the extraordinary aesthetic unity which became the company’s trademark for five seasons and ten productions.
This attracted the attention of the extraordinary Beni Montresor, whose inspired collaborations with Thaddeus in three productions propelled the company to the forefront of the International level.
With Goya in mind, he assembled the costumes for CARMEN at THE FORT WORTH OPERA, collaborating with Texas artist Jim Woodson, who created miraculously vast scenic panoramas in an intimate theatre, for a production sponsored in part by the Fort Worth Museum of Art.
At Boston’s HANCOCK HALL, he was responsible for creating all of the lavish elements onstage for THE MERRY WIDOW, the BOSTON CONCERT OPERA’S first fully staged production.
His rapturously received, updated to the 1980’s “Lost Boys”, WEST SIDE STORY in France at the LILLE FESTIVAL was distinguished by his improvisatory use of the symphony stage wings and elevators as scenic backdrops for the radical costuming of Bobby Pearce and Jets/Shark logos of New York artist Keith Haring.
Today, while continuing to collaborate with other designers in a supervisory capacity, Thaddeus draws and paints to illustrate his own writing.
1."Architectural Fantasy", Pen and ink drawing after Antonio Canaletto,
1969 - Project assigned by Helen Farr Sloane
2.HOMERIC ACADEMY, Pen and ink design for program cover, 1968