Stephen Powell


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The dynamic American baritone Stephen Powell brings his “rich, lyric baritone, commanding presence, and thoughtful musicianship” (Wall Street Journal) to a wide range of music, from Monteverdi and Handel through Verdi and Puccini to Sondheim and John Adams. Opera magazine has hailed him, writing “the big news was Stephen Powell’s gorgeously-sung Onegin: rock solid, with creamy legato from top to bottom and dynamics smoothly tapered but never exaggerated.”

In the summer of 2016 Mr. Powell returns to Tanglewood as soloist in Carmina burana with Boston Symphony Orchestra, and to Minnesota Orchestra as Iago in Otello. Mr. Powell’s engagements in the 2016–2017 season will include returns to Philadelphia Orchestra as soloist in Carmina burana and the Messiah; to San Francisco Opera as Prus in The Makropulos Case; to North Carolina Symphony and Kansas City Symphony in Britten’s War Requiem; and his debut with Seattle Opera as Germont in La traviata.

In 2015–2016 he returned to Opera Philadelphia as Germont in La traviata, to New Jersey Symphony as soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, to Detroit Symphony Orchestra in the Messiah, to Minnesota Opera as Scarpia in Tosca, to Houston Symphony in Fauré’s Requiem, and to Michigan Opera Theatre in his debut performances as the title role in Macbeth. Mr. Powell made his debut with the National Symphony Orchestra in the Messiah at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and with the Kansas City Symphony as soloist in the world premiere of Jonathan Leshnoff’s Symphony No. 3.  

His 2014–2015 season highlights included 50th anniversary concerts with San Diego Opera, Scarpia in Tosca with Colorado Symphony Orchestra, return engagements to Cleveland Orchestra to reprise Carmina burana, to Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, to Cincinnati Opera as Count di Luna in Il trovatore, to Chicago’s Music of the Baroque for Mozart’s Requiem, to Virginia Opera as the title role in Sweeney Todd, to Minnesota Orchestra as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, to Caramoor Festival as Alphonse in La favorite, and to San Antonio Symphony for Mozart’s Requiem. 

In 2013–2014 he returned to Los Angeles Opera as Enrico in Lucia di Lammmermoor; to San Diego Opera as Tonio in I pagliacci; to Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in Britten’s War Requiem (also at Carnegie Hall); to St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio; and to Nashville Symphony Orchestra in Brahms’ Requiem. Also in 2013–2014 he made his role debut as Falstaff in his debut with Virginia Opera, and sang Germont in La traviata with Michigan Opera Theatre and with Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra (fully staged). In summer of 2014 he returned to Caramoor Festival as Rigoletto, to Minnesota Orchestra as soloist in Carmina burana, and debuted with Boston Symphony Orchestra (at Tanglewood) as Amonasro in Aida.

His engagements for 2012–2013 included singing as Simon Boccanegra (1857 version) with Warsaw’s Ludwig van Beethoven Association; his debut with Cleveland Orchestra in Carmina burana; with Leipzig’s MDR Sinfonieorchester as soloist in Peer Gynt, under Kristjan Järvi; with Lyric Opera Baltimore as Rigoletto; and with Anchorage Symphony in La damnation de Faust. His several return engagements included to Saint Louis Symphony as soloist in Mozart’s Requiem; Houston Symphony in Belshazzar’s Feast; Atlanta Symphony, under Robert Spano, in Bach’s Mass in B Minor; Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, under Fabio Mechetti, as Iago in a fully-staged production of Otello; and to Los Angeles Opera for its production of I due Foscari. In summer 2013 he made his debut with the Caramoor Festival as Rodrigue in Don Carlos.

Recent highlights include his return to Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and to Music of the Baroque as soloist in Bach’s Mass in B Minor; to Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion; to Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Messiah; to both New York City Opera and Pittsburgh Opera as Germont; to Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in Carmina burana, under James Conlon; to Minnesota Orchestra as Rigoletto; to Aspen Music Festival in Mahler’s Symphony No. 8; his debut with Nashville Symphony Orchestra in Carmina burana; with Atlanta Opera as Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor; Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with Tonhaller Orchester Zürich, and David Zinman (recorded for RCA Red Seal); with Fort Worth Symphony in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9; and soloist with American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in Franz Schmidt’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Recent re-engagements include San Francisco Opera as De Guiche in Cyrano de Bergerac; Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in Rachmaninoff’s Spring Cantata; Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in Fauré’s Requiem; and with Philadelphia Orchestra in Carmina burana. He debuted with Cincinnati Opera in the title role of Rigoletto; with Montreux Festival in Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder; with Minnesota Opera as Germont; with Palm Beach Opera as Scarpia in Tosca; and with Singapore Symphony Orchestra in Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast. He also sang as soloist in Brahms’ Requiem with Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and in the Messiah with San Francisco Symphony and Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

Other highlights include Ford in Falstaff with Pittsburgh Opera; Uncle John in The Grapes of Wrath with Collegiate Chorale, under Ted Sperling; soloist in Szymanowski’s Stabat mater with Rome’s Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Christoph Eschenbach conducting; Messiah with Huddersfield Choral Society in England; Brahms’ Requiem with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop conducting; Carmina burana with Cincinnati Symphony, Paavo Jarvi conducting; Scarpia in Tosca with Minnesota Orchestra; selections from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn at Aspen Music Festival; an opera gala concert with North Carolina Symphony Orchestra; with Madison Opera in “Opera in the Park”; Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Los Angeles Opera; Germont with San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New Orleans operas; and Miller in Luisa Miller at the Cincinnati May Festival.

Mr. Powell’s other successes include his San Francisco Opera debut as Sharpless; Ford in Falstaff with New York City Opera; Riccardo in I puritani with Washington Concert Opera; Germont with Arizona Opera; Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Hawaii Opera Theatre; soloist in Carmina Burana with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and at Aspen Music Festival; and in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Philadelphia Orchestra, under Rossen Milanov, at the Mann Music Center and at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival.

With New York City Opera he performed the title role in Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler, stepping in at the last moment, and has returned to the company as title role in Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, and Zurga in Les pêcheurs de perles. He has sung with the Metropolitan Opera as Ping in Turandot and Shchelkalov in Boris Godunov, and with Glimmerglass Opera as Ford in Falstaff and Malatesta in Don Pasquale. Other roles which have earned Mr. Powell critical acclaim include the title role in Eugene Onegin, Escamillo in Carmen, Count in Le nozze di Figaro, Marcello in La bohème, the title role in Sweeney Todd, Valentin in Faust, the title role in Don Giovanni, and Guglielmo in Così fan tutte with such companies as Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opéra de Montréal, Opera Philadelphia, Florida Grand Opera, Utah Opera, Opera Cleveland, Florentine, Arizona, San Diego, Kentucky, and Portland operas.

Stephen Powell’s concert career has seen him perform as soloist in Carmina burana, the Messiah, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Missa solemnis, Bach’s Saint Matthew's Passion, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, Verdi’s Requiem, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, Dvorák’s Te Deum, Frank Martin’s In Terra Pax, Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater, Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, Haydn’s The Creation, Copland’s Old American Songs and Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 and Das klagende Lied with such notable organizations as the San Francisco, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Houston, Milwaukee, Detroit, Nashville, Philadelphia, Dallas, Ottawa, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Rochester, and Phoenix symphony orchestras, Brooklyn and Rochester philharmonics, San Diego and North Carolina symphonies, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich, Handel and Haydn Society, Cathedral Choral Society of Washington, Minnesota and Boston Baroque orchestras, and Les Violons du Roy, among others.

Mr. Powell has sung under the distinguished batons of such noted conductors as Andrew Litton, Charles Dutoit, Leonard Slatkin, Edo de Waart, Grant Llewellyn, Antony Walker, Carlos Kalmar, David Zinman and Michael Tilson Thomas. He created the role of Felipe Nuñez in the world premiere of The Conquistador with San Diego Opera, and performed and recorded Bach’s Magnificat with Boston Baroque.

As a recitalist, Stephen Powell has appeared with New York Festival of Song with Steven Blier at the piano, and performed at Weill Recital Hall singing Lee Hoiby’s song cycle, I Was There: Five Poems of Walt Whitman, with the composer accompanying. He performs frequently with his wife, soprano Barbara Shirvis, offering three recital programs they created together: “Hearts Afire: Love Songs through the Ages”, Bellissimo Broadway!” and “American Celebration”, as well as master classes at universities across the USA. Mr. Powell is an alumnus of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Center for American Artists.