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Job Interview

Bill Repp

Opera Bill

By David Boyer

He's not a diva. In fact, I don't know if he even sings. But I wanted to chat with Bill Repp anyway. This former childhood star from Baltimore has heard and seen a lot of opera in his 23 years at the War Memorial. And besides, he seems like a really nice man.

At age 16, Bill Repp got a "taste of show biz" as a dancer/committee member on the Buddy Dean Show. That show, Baltimore's version of American Bandstand, served as inspiration for Hairspray, directed by another local boy, John Waters. Bill and John were, and still are, friends.

David: "So, what is your job here?"

Bill: "I am the ticket taker on the taxi side. And I'm the concierge."

David: "Do you like your job?"

Bill: "I absolutely love it. It's so difficult to think that I am--don't take this the wrong way--actually paid to do something I love so much. I adore opera. I just love my job. There's no denying it."

David: "How did you start?"

Bill: "I used to have a subscription and come every Sunday afternoon. And a dear friend who was an usher would see me and would say, 'Why don't you come and usher for us?' But I was under the impression that you had to usher almost every day and night. He said no, just once a week. And I thought, I can handle that. So I went upstairs and volunteered in the boxes for 12 or 13 years. Then I became a staff member."

David: "What is the oddest request you've gotten from a patron?"

Bill: "Other than 'Make sure my cab is waiting to get me to the airport,' that's about it. But nothing really very exciting, just part of my job description. I get them a cab and off they go."

David: "Do you hang out with any of the other ticket takers outside the Opera?"

Bill: "I'm friendly with Wayne, who works in front. In fact, Wayne, forgive my humility, was one of my protégés. I helped Wayne get his start here. He and I are very good friends. I'm very proud of Wayne. I admire his ambition, his drive. He's a charming chap."

David: "If you weren't doing this, what would you want to be doing?"

Bill: "To me, this is show business. And if not this, oh gosh, I would work in the arts, work in some way if I could in the theater."

David: "Why do you love opera?"

Bill: "Because I can relate to it. To the drama, the excitement, the pathos. That's me. I can absolutely relate to many of the characters."

David: "If you had to pick one role to play, which would it be?"

Bill: "It would definitely be heavy. Probably Volton [in Die Walküre]. Because of his power, but yet there are moments with Brunhilda when he is just a soft spot. We had it here a couple years back and I just cried."

David: "What is your favorite TV show?"

Bill: "I'm not much for television, but I do enjoy 60 Minutes and I do like Frasier."

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From the October 1997 issue of the Metropolitan.

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