Born in Charleston, S.C., Scott grew up in Neptune, N.J. He earned a B.F.A. in acting from Boston University. Before coming to Juilliard, he worked as general manager at the New Jersey State Opera, production manager at the Dallas Opera, and stage manager at the San Francisco Opera.
How long have you worked at Juilliard, and what is one of your favorite memories from your years here?
I started work here on September 10, 2001. Prior to that day, I commuted via the PATH train from the World Trade Center to the New Jersey State Opera in Newark.This brings me to a day, one year later, that will always be one of the most moving moments of my time at Juilliard: standing silently on the Milstein Plaza on September 11, 2002, with the Juilliard students, faculty, and staff, and gazing south.
What job at Juilliard would you like to try out for a day and why?
Conductor of the orchestra, the best job in the world.
What is the strangest or most memorable job you’ve ever had and what made it so?
When I was a freshman in high school, my father had a friend named Buck who supplied theatrical animals to the Met. Knowing that I was interested in opera, it was arranged that I would go one night when he was providing a pony for Octavian’s carriage in Act 2 of Rosenkavalier. Not knowing my job, I rented a tux and waited for the big night. Once we got to the house, Buck handed me a bucket and shovel and told me to wait behind the pony offstage till the entrance. (This was before the day when this important job would have been handled by a union stagehand.) Once the pony and carriage made their entrance, my curiosity got the better of me and, wanting to get closer to the stage, I ditched the shovel and bucket in the wings. As I crouched behind a flat, and just as Octavian is presenting the silver rose, I hear a loud metallic crash and whispered curses. That was my first job in opera.
If out of the blue your boss said to take the day off, what would you do with your free time?
Depending on the mood, make a nice dinner for Roger, my partner, or go read a book—or both.
Did you ever consider pursuing a performing career?
I started out wanting to be an actor, but stage-managing gigs paid the rent, and so the thespian road was not taken. Every once in awhile, I think about auditioning for a little community theater group in Staten Island—and maybe someday I will. I am slowly working on writing my autobiography, Off Stage Left.
What was the best vacation you’ve had and what made that trip so special?
The best vacation was a working vacation, going to Spoleto with Juilliard—working in an opera house in Italy, visiting museums, shopping in the local markets, and cooking in my little kitchen on the electric stove that always gave me a shock. Then spending a week in Vienna.
What other pursuits are you passionate about?
Reading, writing, giving dinner parties, museums, collecting pandas, watching pandas on the San Diego Zoo Web cam, listening to chamber music, and going to People’s Symphony concerts.
What is your favorite thing about New York City?
I can’t just name one thing, so here goes, in no particular order: the skyline from the Staten Island Ferry in the early morning or late at night, Café Reggio; Strand Book Store; Joe’s Shanghai; Ty’s; West Fourth Street; Oscar Wilde Book Store; El Faros (for the memories); the Cloisters; Morgan Library; Noguchi Museum; Greek food shops in Astoria; the Mermaid Parade; Oyster Bar at Grand Central; the Scholar’s Garden at Snug Harbor; the Sculpture Garden on the roof of the Met Museum; Bronx Zoo—an endless list!
What book are you reading right now, or what CD are you listening to … and what can you tell us about it?
Howard Zinn’s book Voices of a People’s History of the United States. This is a companion volume to his People’s History. It is a collection of letters, diaries, newspaper articles, etc., written during significant moments in American history, starting with the Spanish conquests, the early slave trade, the conquest of the Native Americans in the West, the emergence of gay rights, and ending with Bush and the “War on Terror.” The eyewitness accounts are riveting and often heartbreaking.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
I watch (on the CUNY station, which makes it all right) Hopalong Cassidy reruns on Saturday mornings.