Darell Haynes hadn’t seen his friend and former Hahnville High classmate Thomas Cannon in 10 years.
What better place to reconnect, then, than Berlin, Germany?
While most who grow up together and reconnect later tend to do so back in their hometown or nearby, the two Tiger alums did so across the world when Haynes, who was in Berlin for a performance, reached out to Haynes, who has lived in Berlin for the past two years.
They’re not only former classmates, but also kindred spirits: both are opera singers who performed together as band and choir members growing up, and are now cultivating careers via their talented voices.
Haynes said while he and Cannon hadn’t seen one another in a decade, they’ve each followed the other’s career through social media. Cannon’s performing duties brought him to Austria, and he decided to spend a month in Germany to perform auditions. Haynes moved to Germany in 2017 with aspirations of building a musical career there. The two did not find themselves there by accident: Haynes notes Germany, Austria and Switzerland have “amazing and vast opera houses that hold more than half of all opera performances in the world,” so there he went to seek opportunity.
But, of course, also a brave one — and after venturing far from his family and friends in search of opportunity, Haynes was particularly happy to hear from an old pal, and knew from experience that when traveling to a foreign country, knowing someone already there makes things far easier.
“We met at my barbershop,” Haynes said. “After that, we went to a Turkish restaurant and talked for at least two hours … I took him to one of my favorite places, Tempelhofer Field.”
For sure, they had plenty to talk about, given what each has accomplished in their years since last seeing one another.
Haynes went to Berlin to become part of the Berlin Opera Academy, where he landed the role of Tamino in Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute), and to be understudy for the role of Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos. He has sung in the Supplementary Chorus with Deutsche Oper and is currently involved with two ongoing productions, La forza del Destino and Cavalleria Rusticana.
He’s also been featured on the television show “Das Supertalent,” which is part of the same brand that produces America’s Got Talent. There, he and his trio specializing in classical crossover came across the path of Simon Cowell, known for his harsh critiques and often biting comments.
“I never saw myself doing those types of shows, but I’m really glad I did it.” — Darrel Haynes
But Cowell was in no such mood after their performance, giving them his “Golden Buzzer” and moving the team directly to the finale, where it finished as runner up.
Cannon, meanwhile, is currently preparing to sing at Arizona Opera where he will play in a newly composed opera titled Fellow Travelers. From there he’ll head home for a couple of weeks before going to perform Handel’s Messiah in Oklahoma City. He’s been performing opera for the past decade. He’s sung at Santa Fe Opera, The Dallas Opera, Chautauqua Opera, and Fort Worth Opera, to name a few, and has also sung at Carnegie Hall twice.
“Operatic singing, in particular, is the most expressive and liberating style of singing there is,” Cannon said. “You get to deal with all these deep feelings of love, hate, jealousy, murder, insanity, you name it. We get to play some really cool characters that do things everyday people can only dream of. I’ve been a bullfighter, a god, a count, a prince.”
He also aspires to teach, and is finishing a doctorate in music.
“I’d like to secure a professorship and start inspiring the musical minds of the future,” Cannon said.