Biography

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 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," while The Wall Street Journal lauded his "rich, lyric baritone, commanding presence, and thoughtful musicianship." In his recent debut in the title role of Verdi's Falstaff, the Washington Times had this to say - "Vocally, Mr. Powell has a dominant, authoritative instrument but capably works falsetto and humorous tics into his routine as well. He is quite simply a marvelous, fully realized Falstaff, which is, after all, what this opera needs....with a Falstaff like Mr. Powell, everything else in the production pretty much falls into place."

The summer of 2016 saw Mr. Powell returning to Tanglewood for Orff's Carmina Burana, before heading to Minneapolis to sing Iago in a semi-staged version of Verdi's Otello with the Minnesota Orchestra, with wife Barbara Shirvis as Desdemona. Up next for the 2016/17 season is his role debut of Jaraslov Prus in Janacek's The Makropulos Case with the San Francisco Opera. He then returns home for two concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra, first Orff's Carmina Burana, and then Händel's Messiah. Mr. Powell makes his Seattle Opera debut next, singing Germont in Verdi's La Traviata, and then returns to Minnesota Opera for the WORLD PREMIERE performances of William Bolcom's new opera Dinner at Eight, portraying the role of Oliver Jordan. Two performances of Britten's War Requiem follow, first with the North Carolina Symphony, then with the Kansas City Symphony. Another Germont in Verdi's La Traviata with San Diego Opera separates the two Britten performances. A gala for David DiChiera's retirement from Michigan Opera Theatre rounds out the Spring, followed by a return to Minneapolis for a semi-staged version of Strauss' Salome with the Minnesota Orchestra, essaying the role of Jochanaan.

The 2015-2016 season began with Mr. Powell returning to Opera Philadelphia in the familiar role of Germont in Verdi's La Traviata. Then another return engagement, this time with the NJ Symphony singing Beethoven's 9th Symphony, with wife Barbara Shirvis as the Soprano soloist. Two performances of Händel's Messiah were next with the Detroit Symphony and the National Symphony Orchestra. The season continued with Scarpia in Puccini's Tosca with Minnesota Opera; his title role debut in Verdi's Macbeth with Michigan Opera Theatre; a return to the Houston Symphony in Fauré's Requiem, and a world premiere of composer Jonathan Leshnoff's New Symphony for baritone soloist and orchestra.

The 2014-2015 season began with a return to Virginia Opera to sing the title role in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd and to Cincinnati Opera as Conte di Luna in Verdi's Il Trovatore. He reprised Orff's Carmina Burana with Cleveland Orchestra(in Miami); debuted with the Colorado Symphony singing Scarpia in Puccini's Tosca in a semi-staged version; sang Mozart's Requiem with Music of the Baroque; and performed in the 50th Anniversary Gala Celebration Concert for San Diego Opera. He returned to Atlanta Symphony for Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, and appeared as the Lenape tribe/baritone soloist in a World Premiere performance of Brent Michael Davids' Opera Purchase of Manhattan in New York City. The summer of 2015 brought a return to the Caramoor Festival debuting the role of Alphonse XI, King of Castille, in Donizetti's La Favorite, as well as Sharpless in Puccini's Madama Butterfly with the Minnesota Orchestra. He then sang a concert of Italian arias with wife Barbara Shirvis with the Boston Landmarks Orchestra. Summer of 2014 saw his debut at Tanglewood singing Amonasro in Verd's Aida with Boston Symphony Orchestra, a return to Caramoor in the title role of Verdi's Rigoletto, and Orff's Carmina Burana with the Minnesota Orchestra.

In the 2013-2014 season, Stephen Powell returned to Los Angeles Opera as Enrico in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, 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. He made his role debut in the title role of Falstaff with Virginia Opera, as well as repeated a signature role, Germont in Verdi's La Traviata with Michigan Opera Theatre. A return to San Diego Opera marked another role debut, Tonio in Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci. He sang Germont again with the Orlando Philharmonic, as well as gave a Master Class for the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver.

His engagements for 2012-2013 included singing as Simon Boccanegra (1857 version) with Warsaw's Beethoven Easter Festival; Carmina Burana with the Cleveland Orchestra, Leipzig's MDR Sinfonieorchester as soloist in Peer Gynt, with Lyric Opera of Baltimore as Rigoletto, and with Anchorage Symphony in Berlioz' La Damnation of Faust. Return engagements included Mozart's Requiem with St. Louis Symphony, Belshazzar's Feast with Houston Symphony, Bach's B Minor Mass with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Iago in a fully-staged version of Otello with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, and to Los Angeles Opera for I Due Foscari. The summer of 2013 saw his role debut as Rodrigue in Don Carlos at the Caramoor Festival.

On the concert stage, Mr. Powell's 2011-2012 season included Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Phoenix and Ft. Worth Symphonies; Händel's Messiah with the Baltimore Symphony and Philadelphia Orchestra; Bach's St. Matthew Passion with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Bob Spano conducting; Bach's B Minor Mass with Music of the Baroque, Jane Glover conducting, and the St. Louis Symphony, David Robertson conducting; and Orff's Carmina Burana with the Cincinnati May Festival, James Conlon conducting, and the Nashville Symphony, Giancarlo Guerrero conducting. In the world of opera, he returned to Pittsburgh Opera and New York City Opera to sing Germont in Verdi's La Traviata, and debuted with Atlanta Opera singing Enrico in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. In the summer he sang the title role in Rigoletto in a semi-staged production at Sommerfest with the Minnesota Orchestra.

Stephen Powell's 2010-2011 season included Germont in La Traviata with Minnesota Opera; De Guiche in Alfano's Cyrano de Bergerac with San Francisco Opera; Scarpia in Tosca with Palm Beach Opera, and the title role in Rigoletto with Cincinnati Opera. He also appeared as soloist in Brahms Requiem with the St. Louis Symphony under David Robertson; in Messiah with the San Francisco Symphony and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, under Christopher Seaman; Fauré's Requiem with the Cincinnati Symphony, Paavo Järvi conducting; in Schoenberg's Gurrelieder with Fondation de Septembre Musical, David Zinman conducting; Rachmaninoff's Spring Cantata with Robert Spano conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and Walton's Belshazzar's Feast with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Summer brought a return to the Mann Center to sing Carmina Burana with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Giancarlo Guerrero conducting, and a debut at the Boulder Music Festival singing Fauré's Requiem.

In 2009-10, he 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 as soloist 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 Järvi conducting; appeared in recital with wife Barbara Shirvis in Dallas, Texas; and sang 2 gala concerts with the North Carolina Symphony, Grant Llewellyn 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. He also sang with the Aspen Festival Orchestra Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn, as well as a gala concert for Madison Opera.

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.