The dynamic American baritone Stephen Powell brings his handsome voice, elegant musicianship and robust stage presence to a wide range of music from Monteverdi and Handel to Verdi and Puccini even to modern composers like 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," while The Wall Street Journal lauded his "rich, lyric baritone, commanding presence, and thoughtful musicianship."
In 2009-10, Stephen Powell appeared as Ford in Verdi's Falstaff with Pittsburgh Opera; as Uncle John in Ricky Ian Gordon's The Grapes of Wrath in concert at Carnegie Hall, Ted Sperling conducting; sang solo in Szymanowski's Stabat Mater with Rome's Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Christoph Eschenbach conducting; in Messiah with the Huddersfield Choral Society in England; in the Brahms Requiem with Baltimore Symphony, as well as the Dutch Radio Orchestra at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Holland, both with Marin Alsop conducting; in Carmina Burana with Cincinnati Symphony, Paavo Jarvi conducting; appeared in recital with wife Barbara Shirvis in Dallas, Texas; and sang 2 gala concerts with the North Carolina Symphony, Grant Llewellyn conducting. He also made his Asian debut in La Traviata at the Beijing National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing, China, Lorin Maazel conducting. In summer of 2010, Mr. Powell sang his first Scarpia in Puccini's Tosca with the Minnesota Orchestra, with wife Barbara Shirvis as Tosca, Andrew Litton conducting.
In the 2008-09 season, Mr. Powell sang the roles of Germont in La Traviata and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, both with Los Angeles Opera. He also sang Germont with the San Francisco Opera and New Orleans Opera. On concert stages he performed as soloist in Carmina Burana with both the Phoenix Symphony and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra; Messiah with Baltimore Symphony; the Brahms Requiem and Dvorak's Te Deum, both with the Cathedral Choral Society; Mahler's Symphony No. 8 with Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich (recorded for the SONY/BMG label); Mahler's Das Klagende Lied with the Philadelphia Orchestra; Brahms' Requiem with the San Diego Symphony; Haydn's The Creation with the Rochester Philharmonic; and the Verdi Requiem with the Mendelssohn Club at Verizon Hall in Philadelphia. He debuted the role of Miller in Verdi's Luisa Miller in concert for Cincinnati's May Festival, James Conlon conducting. He and wife Barbara Shirvis also debuted a recital they created, "American Celebration". In summer of 2009 he sang as soloist in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 at the Brevard Festival, as well as in a return to Baltimore Symphony.
Other recent successes include his San Francisco Opera debut as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly; Ford in Falstaff with New York City Opera; appearing with the Washington Concert Opera as Riccardo in I puritani, conducted by Antony Walker; performing with the North Carolina Symphony as Count in Le nozze di Figaro, conducted by Grant Llewellyn; with Arizona Opera as Germont in La traviata; with Hawaii Opera Theatre as Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia; with Austin Lyric Opera in a gala concert; returning to the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in Messiah; singing Carmina Burana with Oregon Symphony, conducted by Carlos Kalmar; and appearing with the Singing City Choir (Philadelphia) in Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. In summer of 2007 Stephen Powell sang Carmina Burana with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Robert Spano, and at the Aspen Music Festival, conducted by David Zinman; Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Philadelphia Orchestra, both at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival and the Mann Center, with conductor Rossen Milanov; and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, also at Aspen.
Stephen Powell's reputation was solidified and a major career was launched when, on opening night of New York City Opera's 1995-96 season, he created a sensation, substituting on short notice to sing the title role in Hindemith's Mathis der Maler. His subsequent roles with that company have included Ford in Falstaff, the title role in Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Enrico in a new production of Lucia di Lammermoor, and Zurga in a new production of Les pêcheurs de perles. His roles with the Metropolitan Opera have included Ping in Turandot and Schelkalov in Boris Godunov. Mr. Powell has spent three seasons with Glimmerglass Opera, singing the roles of Ford, Malatesta, and Jack Point in The Yeomen of the Guard.
Past performances, nationally and internationally, include Camoëns in Donizetti's Dom Sébastien with Opera Orchestra of New York at Carnegie Hall; the title role in Eugene Onegin with Cleveland Opera and Opera Festival of New Jersey; Escamillo in Carmen with Florentine Opera, Minnesota Orchestra, and the Dallas Symphony at the Vail Music Festival with Andrew Litton conducting; Count in Le nozze di Figaro with Indianapolis Opera and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra; the title role in Le nozze di Figaro with both L'Opéra de Montréal and L'Opéra de Québec, as well as Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with both companies. Mr. Powell has sung Marcello in La bohème with Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under Robert Spano, the title role in Sweeney Todd with both Cleveland Opera and Arizona Opera, and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly for the Eastern Music Festival and San Diego Opera. He has sung Valentin in Faust with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Malatesta in Don Pasquale with L'Opéra de Montréal, the title role in The Death of Klinghoffer at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Ford in Falstaff with Florentine Opera, Germont in La traviata with Portland Opera and Utah Opera, Clayton McAllister in Floyd's Cold Sassy Tree with San Diego Opera, Jochanaan in Salome with Cleveland Opera, Zurga in Les pêcheurs de perles with Kentucky Opera, and the title role in Don Giovanni with Berkshire Opera. He has also performed Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte with Florida Grand Opera, San Diego Opera, and at the Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro. Mr. Powell created the role of Felipe Nuñez in the world premiere of The Conquistador with San Diego Opera.
On the concert stage, he has performed as soloist in Carmina Burana with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra (Charles Dutoit conducting), the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and at the Kennedy Center (Leonard Slatkin conducting). He has sung Handel's Messiah with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal; Milwaukee Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, and Detroit Symphony orchestras; Les Violons du Roy; Handel and Haydn Society; and the Minnesota and Boston Baroque orchestras. Mr. Powell has toured North America with Edo de Waart and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in performances of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, which he has also sung with the Philadelphia, Ottawa, Cincinnati, Baltimore, and Phoenix Symphony orchestras. He has sung Bach's St. Matthew Passion with the Handel and Haydn Society; the North Carolina Symphony; and toured as Christus in Québec, Montréal and Toronto with Les Violons du Roy. Mr. Powell has sung Mendelssohn's Elijah with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Elgar's Dream of Gerontius with the North Carolina Symphony, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, the Dvorák Requiem with the Florida Orchestra, Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem with the Jacksonville and Milwaukee symphonies, Frank Martin's In Terra Pax with the Cathedral Choral Society of Washington, Szymanowski's Stabat Mater with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Walton's Belshazzar's Feast with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Copland's Old American Songs with the California Symphony Orchestra, and Mahler's Symphony No. 8 with the San Francisco Symphony under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas. Mr. Powell performed and recorded Bach's Magnificat with Boston Baroque.
Mr. Powell made his first recital appearance with New York Festival of Song, with Steven Blier at the piano. He has subsequently performed at Weill recital hall singing Lee Hoiby's song cycle I was There; 5 poems by Walt Whitman, with the composer at the piano. He now performs frequently with his wife, soprano Barbara Shirvis, in 3 recital programs they created together: Hearts Afire, love songs through the ages; Bellissimo Broadway!; and An American Celebration. They also give Master Classes at Universities across the USA. Stephen Powell is an alumnus of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Center for American Artists.
Stephen Powell's 2010-11 season includes:
re-engagement with San Francisco Opera as De Guiche in Cyrano de Bergerac
re-engagement with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (Robert Spano) in Rachmaninoff's Spring Cantata
re-engagement with Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (Paavo Järvi) in Fauré's Requiem
debut with Cincinnati Opera as the title role in Rigoletto
debut with Montreux Festival (David Zinman) in Schoenberg's Gurrelieder
debut with Minnesota Opera as Germont in La Traviata
debut with Palm Beach Opera as Scarpia in Tosca
debut with Singapore Symphony Orchestra in Walton's Belshazzar's Feast
Brahms' Requiem as Baritone Soloist with Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, David Robertson conducting
Messiah with Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, under Christopher Seaman
Recent highlights include:
Ford in Falstaff with Pittsburgh Opera
Mahler's Das Knaben Wunderhorn (Marin Alsop) with Aspen Festival;
Brahms' Requiem with Concertgebouw Orchestra (Marin Alsop)
Szymanowski's Stabat Mater with Rome's Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia(Christopher Eschenbach)
Messiah with England's Huddersfield Choral Society
Brahms' Requiem with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Carmina Burana with Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Scarpia with Minnesota Orchestra
Recital with his wife, soprano Barbara Shirvis, through Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, TX
Germont in La Traviata and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, both with Los Angeles Opera
Germont with San Francisco Opera, Donald Runnicles conducting
Carmina Burana with both Phoenix Symphony and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra
Messiah and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with Baltimore Symphony
Brahms' Requiem and Dvorzák's Te Deum, both with Cathedral Choral Society
Mahler's Symphony No. 8 with Tonhalle-Orchestre Zurich
Mahler's Das klagende Lied with the Philadelphia Orchestra
Haydn's Creation with Rochester Philharmonic
Miller in Luisa Miller at Cincinnati May Festival, James Conlon conducting
In the 2011-12 season he returns to Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra as soloist in Bach's Mass in B Minor, and to the Atlanta Symphony for Bach's St. Matthew Passion.