If Harry Potter was an opera, baritone Quinn Kelsey would be Hagrid: a mountain of a man, undeniably very strong, yet gentle, approachable, with a genial bonhomie. While he'll have to wait for someone to compose that score, he's been sticking to the Italian repertoire with San Francisco opera. On this stage, he has recently sung Verdi (Count di Luna in Trovatore) or Puccini (Marcello in La Boheme), and he returns this season with more ...Verdi and Puccini, of course. When the second run of Aida comes around in November, he'll be her dad, Amonasro. And starting tonight, he'll be Sharpless in Madama Butterfly. This Butterfly is somewhat bittersweet: we grew accustomed to Zheng Cao in the role of Suzuki, and our thoughts go to her battle against cancer.

Still, we're glad to see new faces in those familiar roles. Quinn came over from his native Hawaii to attend the Merola program in 2002, then the young artist program at the Chicago Opera and then his career took off all the way to the Met. The baritone kindly took our phone call to explain to us how to sweep a soprano off her feet, a trick usually reserved to tenors.