Sara's Showbitz

Cosmo Clemens, Brabo Restaurant Server Extraordinaire, Opera Singer and Teacher

By Sara Dudley Brown, Theatre Editor

Cosmo Clemens. Photo by Alisa Garin

It is not at all unusual for actors and singers to work as wait staff at restaurants while auditioning for work in the theatre. There have been lots of movies made and books written about just that subject. However, what IS unusual is that a server is so respected by his restaurant colleagues; they want to help promote the fact that this particular server, Cosmo Clemens, is also an experienced opera singer, teacher, and someone who delights in helping educate the public (diners in Brabo’s Restaurant) on the joys of the opera experience.Cosmo believes that anything he can do to enlighten the public with whom he comes in contact on a daily basis to the excitement and joy of attending a live opera performance will make him happy and fulfilled. And he does this in a very unobtrusive way while serving guests the extraordinarily delicious Brabo’s French farm-to-table cuisine. Not that he pushes his agenda on diners. Not at all, but if his diners should inquire about the background of this very handsome and well-spoken young man, who is fit, agile and personable with a lovely manner and speaking voice, as well as beautiful serving skills, they probably won’t be surprised that he is currently rehearsing for Wolf Trap’s staging of “Rigoletto”. And that he recently finished a stint with the Washington National Opera in “The Barber of Seville” in the Kennedy Center Opera House. Cosmo also has a voice studio and an extensive collection of music from which he delights in programming concerts and shows for students. This is in itself an art!

“Albert Herring” by Benjamin Britten with Cosmo Clemens.

I have not as yet heard Cosmo sing in live performance, but have heard several video clips from a couple of his previous operatic and concert performances, and he can sing! And MOVE! He studied ballet, jazz and tap dancing for 10 years, while also studying the violin, piano and acting. This makes him more than a triple threat! Cosmo gave me his mission statement which pretty much sums up how I feel, too, about the power of music and the arts: “I aspire to not only preserve, but advance opera and classical music by bringing life to new works and breathing new life into that which is now considered classic repertoire. New ideas, new music interpretations of music will ensure a bright, prosperous future for the vocal arts and music as a whole.” Additionally, he wants people to understand what it means to be an artist, to want to constantly grow his mind and instrument, while listening, watching, studying, and absorbing as much as he can.

But, just so you know, he’s also very humble and delighted to know that Brabo thinks enough of him to ask for him to be featured in an article—not to talk about his serving skills, which are considerable if you listen to diners who have been served by him—but to talk about and possibly help promote his opera career.

THAT is extraordinary! I’m impressed both by him and by this lovely restaurant, and also by our Zebra Food Editor, Debby Critchley, who waxed so enthusiastically to me not only about Cosmo’s service skills, but also about his potential as a singer, she made me want to meet him and write an article about this amazing young man. And, by the way, if you haven’t read Debby’s marvelous description of dining at Brabo which was featured in our July Zebra, look it up! You will be running, not walking to their door after reading her mouth-watering descriptions of their dishes. Oh, my!

“L’Enfant et les sortileges” composed by Maurice Ravel featuring Cosmo Clemens.

Well, here he is—not only a member of a great service profession and apparently loved by his employers and guests of Brabo, but a man of considerable musical talent who comes equipped to serve Brabo’s customers with the following educational achievements: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from Indiana University; a Master of Music in Voice and a Certificate in Voice from Carnegie Mellon University. Wow! Just wow! The fascinating lives of the people who live in our neighborhoods in the DMV would fill a book.


Sara Dudley Brown

Sara Dudley Brown is the Theatre Editor of The Zebra Press. She graduated with a music degree in voice from Rollins College Conservatory of Music in Winter Park Florida. After several years of professional singing and acting (Disney World and The Kenley Theatres as well as voice-over and film here in the DMV area), trying and failing miserably at being Barbra Streisand (the post was already filled), Sara decided to take her lifelong love of music and the theatre to create a profession which would use everything she had learned theatrically and musically over the years—corporate event production and management. She began with department store events, working for the May Company putting on events in 18 stores, and went on to found her own corporate event management company. She recently retired after 30 years of mounting mega events internationally and domestically for some of the world’s top aviation manufacturers. Now Sara is once again using her years of theatrical work as well as her musical training to review Metro Area professional theatre productions for The Zebra Press. She thinks this is a much more sane way to live and never tires of the excitement of a theatre opening!

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