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Opera singer brings love of music to the Air Force

  • Published
  • By TSgt Patrick Evenson
  • 386 AEW Public Affairs

In southern Spain, a bullfighter enters a hall filled with people. They know him; everyone knows him, for he is the great Escamillo, the brave toreador! He tells of his conquests in the bullring and the crowd hangs on every word. These stories of adventure and peril aren’t necessarily for them, but to impress and woo the charming and beautiful Carmen. Drinks are raised, cheers are howled. And in his baritone voice Escamillo, the symbol of true bravado, stands on his chair and sings:

“Toreador, en garde! Toreador! (“Toreador, en guard! Toreador!)
Toreador!” (Toreador!)
Et songe bien, oui, songe en combattant (And dream away, yes, dream in combat)
Qu'un oeil noir te regarde, (That a black eye is watching you,)
Et que l'amour t'attend, (And that love awaits you,)
Toreador, L'amour t'attend! (Toreador, love awaits you!”)

This is the famous “Toreado Song” in Act 2 of the french opera “Carmen” from composer Georges Bizet. This is the moment that Master Sgt. Aaron Hunt, in his youth, remembers vividly, as he stands next to the lead performer on stage in front of 5000 people in his first opera with the Cleveland Opera Chorus.

“It was funny, because the first opera I ever heard all the way through, was the first opera I performed in,” said Hunt, fitness section chief, with the 386th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron.

In 2007, at the age of 33, Hunt joined the 310th Space Wing, an Air Force Reserve unit at Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado.

“I always wanted to serve,“ said Hunt about his decision to join. “I was a signature away from doing ROTC in college and I didn’t do it. Life got in the way. I went to college, got married, had a kid, but still had it on my heart that I wanted to serve.”

After high school Hunt attended Baldwin Wallace College: Conservatory of Music where he earned two bachelor's degrees in music, as well as being introduced to opera, which was a surprising newfound interest for the heavy metal fan.

Finishing two seasons with the Opera Chorus, he earned his master’s degree at the University of Colorado and became a music teacher at two elementary schools in South Jefferson County, near Denver, in 1999.

Opera is still part of his life though. He became an opera educator there as well, and coordinates with the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City every year.

It probably comes with no surprise that years later, music found a way into his military career as well. For ceremonies he provides his talent for the National Anthem as often as he can.

“It’s always just a massive honor for me to perform [the anthem],” said Hunt. “As a musician, I feel it’s something that needs to be done right and done well, if it can be.”

Hunt is no stranger to singing in different languages as his opera history can attest to. During a two week deployment for training, or DFT, in South Korea, he had the opportunity to sing the Korean anthem as part of a promotion ceremony.

“I love music and I love singing and I’ve had lots of diction classes,” said Hunt. “I would love the opportunities to work more with coalition forces.”

Seeking opportunities of growth professionally and personally is what has driven Hunt, both in the military and back home in Colorado.

“I was always a vocalist music teacher, but I wanted to expand and get more of the instrumental side of it,” Hunt explained. “So I decided to do high school marching band.”

Becoming a teacher was always a passion of his. His favorite part of what he does is that ability to help people understand.

“People learn at different speeds, some people get it right away and some people don’t,” said Hunt. “and helping them to realize that it’s okay to take their time to do it the right way; I love the ability to do that.”

His time at The Rock, is his first deployment, and he is using it to gain as much experience as he can.

“I could sit in my dorm and not do anything, or I can try to take advantage of all that’s here,” said Hunt. “I’m trying to branch out in things I’m good and not good at.”

Within his first three weeks of deployment he had already joined the Ali Al Salem Honor Guard, something he always wanted to do, yet never had the time for.

“For me it’s more of a service thing in almost everything I do,” said Hunt. “I’m always looking for places to volunteer.”

Whether it’s Honor Guard, playing the bagpipes for the community or performing the Exsaltet at Easter Mass, service defines Hunt.

“My wife is like, ‘you don’t get to volunteer for anything else, unless I tell you it’s okay,’” Hunt said with a laugh.