By Sara Dudley Brown, Theatre Editor
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!
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!
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.