Mezzo-soprano. Mrs. De Rocher in Dead Man Walking.
A Texas native, this Grammy Award winner is a graduate of Texas Tech University and the Manhattan School of Music.
When Dead Man Walking had its world premiere in San Francisco in 2000, Susan portrayed Sister Helen Prejean, the lead female role that was written especially for her. She returns to this new production from WNO to captivate audiences as Mrs. De Rocher, the mother of the death row inmate.
Mezzo-soprano. Emelda Griffith in Champion.
A D.C. native, Denyce attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and was later awarded a scholarship to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
Denyce’s title roles in Carmen and Samson et Dalila have made her particularly well-known to opera audiences. In fact, the last time she appeared with WNO, she played the beloved and timeless Carmen. For Champion, she reprises her role as the mother of boxing legend Emile Griffith, following the opera’s world premiere at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
Mezzo-soprano. Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking.
Originally from Virginia, Kate is a graduate of Indiana University, and was a student of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera. Since entering the program, Kate has performed over 80 times at the Met.
This performance marks Kate’s WNO debut.
Acclaimed performances include Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro, Wellgunde in The Ring, and Hansel in Hansel and Gretel.
A notable moment: In 2012, Kate was featured in Vogue magazine alongside fellow opera singers Susanna Phillips and Isabel Leonard. In the feature, they discuss what it means to be an opera singer in the modern world.
Originally from Cut and Shoot, Texas, Michael is a graduate of the University of North Texas.
This performance is Michael’s WNO debut.
Some of Michael’s most recent and celebrated roles include Sharpless in Madam Butterfly, the title role in Don Giovanni, as well as the title role in Rigoletto.
Fun fact! While this is Michael’s WNO debut, the role of Joseph De Rocher is one that has garnered him great acclaim already. Michael and his self-proclaimed “homeboy”, composer Jake Heggie, have teamed up for many operas, including Three Decembers, Great Scott, and For a Look or a Touch. Michael attributes much of his success to Jake’s partnership, saying “he’s given me the career I have today.”
Born in Youngstown, Ohio, Lawrence decided to pursue opera after a spectator approached him following a high school singing competition and encouraged him to try the art form. The advice stuck, and Lawrence went on to study at Anderson University and Indiana University’s prestigious Jacobs School of Music.
Lawrence was last seen at the WNO in 2009 as Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville.
The role of Tonio requires Lawrence to sing a succession of nine high Cs. About the difficult sequence, Lawrence says, “They need to be nine bull’s-eyes. They can’t be nine B naturals. But I feel secure. It’s an aria I’ve lived with. I’ve done it a bunch of times.”
Joshua was born and raised in Canada, and was a student at McGill University in Montreal before gaining acceptance into the Houston Grand Opera Studio.
He made his WNO debut in 2014 as Papageno in The Magic Flute.
Some of Joshua’s most recent role highlights include the title role in The Barber of Seville, Tadeusz in The Passenger, Ping in Turandot, and Junior in A Quiet Place.
Fun fact! Joshua was chosen by Opera News as one of “twenty-five artists poised to break out and become a major force in the coming decade.”
Get a glimpse at Joshua’s Count in The Marriage of Figaro, a performance The Globe and Mail says he delivers with “a virile, vigorous yet velvety sound.”
Ryan is a graduate of both the Juilliard School of Music and the Houston Grand Opera Studio.
He made his WNO debut in The Ring this spring, where he played the roles of Donner and Gunther.
Ryan’s favorite opera is Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde. In fact, Wagner is his favorite composer of all time, with the title role in The Flying Dutchman being his character of choice.
Other memorable roles include the title role in Rigoletto, and Tiridate in Radamisto.
Fun fact! Instead of leaving his wife and two children in Houston every time he’s invited to perform at opera houses around the world, Ryan’s family comes with him! The McKinny family even calls Germany their home-away-from-home, as Ryan has placed his vocal focus on the German repertoire.
Listen to Ryan sing a work from The Flying Dutchman at La Scala in Milan, Italy.
Amanda was born, raised, and currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.
This performance marks her WNO debut.
Amanda has played this role before in several other productions including at The Metropolitan Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago. She’ll return to The Met stage in the 2016/17 season as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni. She has continued her relationship with Lyric audiences in such roles as Vitellia in La clemenza di Tito and Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.
A notable moment: In 2009, she was preparing for her role as a peasant in the Lyric Opera’s production of The Marriage of Figaro. The day before a performance, Amanda learned that she would be taking over the role of the Countess. With only hours to prepare for the biggest curtain call of her life, Amanda took the stage. And the rest is history.
Watch Amanda perform a song from The Metropolitan Opera’s production of The Marriage of Figaro.
Bass Wei Wu tells us about his introduction to music and his favorite movie star. Read even more about him here.
Where were you born? Did you grow up in a musical household?
I was born in Beijing, China. Not really, But my whole family loves music. I remember when I was young, my grandfather listened to some jazz recordings and my dad listened to classical music which was really rare in my generation.
Lisette is a first generation Cuban American.
This season marks her WNO debut, with two back-to-back productions for which she has already won great acclaim.
Lisette and Lawrence Brownlee appeared in The Marriage of Figaro together at the Pittsburgh Opera, and are reuniting on the WNO stage in The Daughter of the Regiment.
She has appeared over 100 times on The Metropolitan Opera stage.
Some of Lisette’s other celebrated roles include Gilda in Rigoletto and Nannetta in Falstaff. She has also appeared in eight of the Met’s Live in HD productions.