NEWTON — Eleven-year-old Clark Rubinshtein, who claims he learned to sing before he could walk, recalls being taken to the opera by his Russian-born mother at age two.
“The first opera I heard was ‘The Magic Flute,’” he said, noting that his mother “was always singing — everything from opera to Broadway show tunes.”
The pint-sized Pavarotti began formal vocal training at age nine with Commonwealth Lyric Theatre Artistic Director Alexander Prokhorov, who saw in Rubinshtein what he terms “an opera gene.” The talented young vocalist has quickly risen in stature to a level that has attracted national and international attention.
Making his operatic debut at 10, Rubinshtein was selected to sing the role of The Judge in the “Marriage of Figaro” at New York’s Di Capo Theater in 2012. This was followed by a solo in Commonwealth Lyric Theater’s opera gala, and performances in Glinka’s “Ruslan and Ludmila” and Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” where the young star performed the major role of Papageno. In August, he wowed audiences at a sold-out performance in Germany.
He got his start doing family concerts. “I come from a large family. For every birthday, we have around 60 close friends and family at our house. We always had a grand piano. My mom would play, and everyone would do a sing-along,” Rubinshtein said.
On January 9, the young prodigy will perform at the New England Conservatory, where he also studies piano. His repertoire will feature American standards and classic Italian opera arias, as well as Yiddish folk songs.
“I have a good ear for foreign languages,” said Rubinshtein, who will sing in seven different languages. He has been studying Spanish since preschool, and has recently added Latin and French.
“This past summer, when I got a chance to go to Germany for my first European solo concert, I had about three weeks to learn German,” he added.
While opera is clearly his focus, Rubinshtein enjoys many other activities, including art, wrestling, chess and basketball. But he gets a special jolt from his time on stage.
“I love…performing before a large audience,” he said. “Some kids tell me they are afraid to look into people’s eyes when they perform. I am the opposite. I love to look into people’s eyes when I perform — it gives me energy!”
When asked about his future, Rubinshtein responded immediately.
“I would like to become an opera singer and perform all over the world,” he said, noting that he dreams of singing at the world’s most famous opera houses, such as the Metropolitan in New York, and La Scala in Italy.
Yet he also has plans to earn a law degree so that he can take over his parents’ practice some day.
“I want to be the best singer among the lawyers, and the best lawyer among the singers,” he said with a smile.
Expanding on that concept, he explained that he hopes to use law to help others, and his musical talents to support his community.
“At least once a month, I give concerts in Greater Boston-area nursing homes, assisted living places, and at a community center for the elderly,” he said.
Clark Rubinshtein will perform, accompanied by a live symphony orchestra, on January 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough St., Boston. For tickets, call 617-585-1260 or visit necmusic.edu.