Louisiana’s Paul Groves sings opera to support his fishing habit

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MADISONVILLE, LA (WGNO) -- Paul Groves might be happiest on a boat, powering through 6 foot seas at 40 miles per hour with fish guts up to his elbows.  You would be hard pressed to find anyone who enjoys the Sportsman's Paradise more than Groves.

Not only does he love fishing in Louisiana, he sings the state's praises whenever he travels around the world.  And he has one of the great voices to deliver the message.

"I always tell people I'm an opera singer to support my fishing habit," Groves told us from his home by the Tchefuncte River in Madisonville.

Turns out, Groves is one of the best opera tenors on the planet.  And sure, he's at home with the caviar crowd, but he gets more excited about catching fish than eating their eggs.

"I love to perform, and I love to sing.  But before opening night at the Met, I don't have a hard time sleeping," Groves says.  "But every once in a while, when I know there's a chance I could catch a 200 pound yellow fin tuna the next day, I have a hard time sleeping."

Groves' ascent of the opera world began in an unlikely place.  He was born in Lake Charles and was raised in a house that enjoyed all the outdoors have to offer.  But he also grew up in a family of musicians.

"When I was 15, I guarantee I was the only person in Lake Charles, Louisiana driving around and listening to Led Zeppelin and Pavarotti."

Groves decided he would follow in his father's steps and become a music teacher, so that's the career path he took to LSU.  Then one day, he tried out for the chorus of one of the university's musical productions and caught the attention of an instructor.

"She said, 'Not many 18-year-olds in the world can sing that aria'."  And I had no idea.  I just thought, 'Really?  Piece of cake.' "

His college performing led to an audition for the Juilliard School.  After a year in New York, Groves was performing as a professional.

"One of my first jobs, I was standing on stage with Pavarotti.  I did 2 or 3 operas when I was young, 23, 24, with Placido Domingo who is still my really good friend today.  I still sing with him quite a bit."

Now Groves travels the world to perform.  Often, he brings his fellow performers home to Louisiana to take them fishing.

"I've taken many well-known singers fishing," Groves says.  "They come back because they have a great time here, too."

Groves is married with two kids and is at a point in his career when he performs at more concerts than opera productions because it gives him a little more time at home.

Oh, and he likes to hunt, too!