Bass-baritone David Pittsinger has sung with the world’s major orchestras under the batons of such conductors as James Levine, Zubin Mehta, Leonard Slatkin, William Christie, Richard Bonynge, Robert Spano, and Nicholas McGegan. His acclaimed portrayal of Emile de Becque in "South Pacific" at the Kennedy Center in 2011 was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actor. After summer performances at the Glimmerglass Festival as King Arthur in Lerner & Loewe’s "Camelot," directed by Francesca Zambello, David Pittsinger's 2013-2014 season sees his return to Portland Opera as Jokanaan in "Salome," in a production by Stephen Lawless, conducted by George Manahan. He celebrates Britten’s centenary in a concert staging of "Peter Grimes" with David Robertson and the Saint Louis Symphony, both in Saint Louis and at Carnegie Hall; appears at Washington National Opera as the Speaker in a new production of "The Magic Flute," conducted by Philippe Augin; sings Rachmaninoff’s "The Bells" with the Houston Symphony; and reprises his acclaimed performance as Emile de Becque in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s "South Pacific" at the Riverside Theater in Vero Beach. David Pittsinger is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and the Yale School of Music.
American bass-baritone David Pittsinger is renowned as a stage performer of the greatest distinction for his dramatic portrayals in the world’s major opera houses. Of his Helen Hayes Award-nominated performance as Emile de Becque in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific at the Kennedy Center, the Washington Times wrote: “His brilliant, knife-clean bass-baritone voice, impeccable enunciation—even with a French accent—and his authoritative, passionate delivery provide the perfect mix of romance, passion, and traditional masculine bravado. And his vocal delivery of ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ as well as the sorrowing ‘This Nearly Was Mine’ registers extraordinarily high on the three-hanky scale. His Emile is perhaps the definitive interpretation of this role in our time.”
Mr. Pittsinger opens the 2014-2015 season as the Captain in Daniel Catán’s Florencia in the Amazon at Washington National Opera directed by Francesca Zambello, a role he reprises later in the season with LA Opera. Other highlights of Mr. Pittsinger’s upcoming season include his return to the Metropolitan Opera in Bartlett Sher’s production Les Contes d’Hoffmann as Luther and Crespel under the batons of James Levine and Yves Abel, and Nick Shadow in Portland Opera’s production of The Rake’s Progress. Concert work includes appearances with the University Musical Society’s presentation of Handel’s Messiah with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra.
Operatic highlights of Mr. Pittsinger’s recent seasons include his summer performances at the Glimmerglass Festival as King Arthur in Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot directed by Francesca Zambello; his return to Portland Opera as Jokanaan in Salome in a production by Stephen Lawless and conducted by George Manahan; Washington National Opera as the Speaker in a new production of The Magic Flute conducted by Philippe Auguin; a reprise of his Helen Hayes Award-nominated performance as Emile de Becque in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific at the Riverside Theater in Vero Beach; the role of Roy Disney in the world premiere of Philip Glass’s The Perfect American at Teatro Real directed by Phelim McDermott, which was released on DVD by Opus Arte in 2013; and the Metropolitan Opera as the Marquis de la Force in Dialogues des Carmélites conducted by Louis Langrée.
Mr. Pittsinger’s recent orchestral engagements include a concert staging of Peter Grimes with David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony, both in Saint Louis and at Carnegie Hall; Rachmaninoff’s The Bells with the Houston Symphony; Stravinsky’s Pulcinella and Haydn’s Missa in tempore belli with Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos and the Boston Symphony Orchestra; and the world premiere of Scott Eyerly’s Arlington Sons—composed for Mr. Pittsinger and his son Richard, a boy soprano—with Leonard Slatkin and the Pittsburgh Symphony, which was released on CD in 2014.
David Pittsinger’s wide-ranging repertoire includes a special affinity for the virtuosic music of the baroque. He has been lauded for his performances of Zoroastro in Handel’s Orlando (Glimmerglass Opera under Bernard Labadie and at New York City Opera); as Cadmus and Somnus in David McVicar’s production of Semele at the Theatre des Champs-Elysées in Paris and opposite Cecilia Bartoli in Robert Carson’s production of Semele at Theater an der Wien under the baton of William Christie; as Atamante in Piero Cesti’s L’Argia at the Champs-Elysées and Lausanne conducted by René Jacobs; as Harapha in Samson with the Philharmonia Baroque under McGegan; as Seneca in Robert Carson’s production of L’incoronazione di Poppea at Theater an der Wien; and as Melisso in Alcina at San Francisco Opera.
His elegant musicianship also puts him in high demand for challenging twentieth and twenty-first century scores including the title role of Massenet’s Don Quichotte at the Klangbogen Festival in Vienna and the Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires; his Nick Shadow in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress has been seen in Paris (Champs-Elysées), Hamburg (a new production by Jürgen Flimm conducted by Ingo Metzmacher), Bordeaux, Lausanne, Cologne, Brussels and at the Wiener Festspiele; his Creon in Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex has been seen at the Teatro San Carlo di Napoli and on tour in Athens. He has also sung the Count in Schreker’s Der Ferne Klang at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie; Rev. Olin Blitch in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah at the Opera Company of Philadelphia and in Vancouver, and the Nemeses in Britten’s Death in Venice at Glimmerglass Opera. Also at Glimmerglass Opera, Mr. Pittsinger and his wife, soprano Patricia Schuman, sang the world premiere of A Blizzard at Marblehead Neck, an opera by Jeanine Tesori and Tony Kushner based on the marriage of Eugene O’Neill and Carlotta Monterey.
Of the repertoire of the 18th and 19th centuries, he has performed Don Giovanni at the Opera Company of Philadelphia, New York City Opera, Florida Grand Opera and Opera Colorado; Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte at the Opera Company of Philadelphia; Rodolfo in La Sonnambula for his debut at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo and a staged production of the Verdi Requiem at English National Opera. Other roles include Selim in Il Turco in Italia (Paris, Brussels and the Teatro Colon), the four Villains in Les Contes d'Hoffmann (Opera Company of Philadelphia), the Comte des Grieux in Manon (Metropolitan Opera), the Speaker in The Magic Flute (San Francisco Opera and the Metropolitan Opera), Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro (Portland Opera and Florida Grand Opera), Angelotti and Scarpia in Tosca (Metropolitan Opera and Florida Grand Opera, respectively), Cappellio in I Capuleti ed i Montecchi (Pittsburgh Opera), Colline in La Bohème (Metropolitan Opera), Publio in La Clemenza di Tito, Mephistopheles in Gounod’s Faust at Seattle Opera, l'Opéra de Montréal, Madison Opera, Calgary Opera, and the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Mr. Pittsinger’s dual portrayals of Mephistopheles earned him the “Artist of the Year” from the Pittsburgh public for both the Gounod and Boito operas.
Mr. Pittsinger’s Helen Hayes Award-nominated performance as Emile de Becque in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific has been seen at the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center Theater, and on national tour with performances in Toronto, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Providence, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Spokane, and Costa Mesa, among other cities.
Orchestral engagements have included the Verdi Requiem with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta; Beethoven’s 9th Symphony under Leonard Slatkin with the National Symphony Orchestra (including performances at Carnegie Hall) and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jiří Bělohlávek; Missa Solemnis with the Houston Symphony under Hans Graf and with I Solisti Veneti; Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle with the Gulbelkian Orchestra in Lisbon, under the direction of Claudio Scimone; Messiah with the Houston Symphony under McGegan, the Baltimore Symphony and the National Symphony Orchestra; the Vienna Philharmonic in performances of Frank Martin’s Golgotha; Berlioz's Roméo et Juliette with l’Orchestre de Lille under Mark Elder, The Rake’s Progress with the West Deutsche Rundfunk, Maria Stuarda conducted by Richard Bonynge and L'Enfance du Christ with John Nelson—both with the National Orchestra Radio France; Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with the Amsterdamse Bach Solisten, Gounod’s Mors et Vita under the baton of Michael Plasson, and the role of Alfonso in Lucrezia Borgia with VARA Radio at the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam (also recorded for Naxos). He has performed at major American summer festivals including Grant Park (Verdi’s Requiem) and Tanglewood (Stravinsky’s Pulcinella conducted by Robert Spano) and has sung Haydn's Creation, Bach's St. Matthew Passion and Cantata 82 (“Ich habe genug”) and Brahms Liebeslieder Walzer at the Bellingham Festival.
Born in Connecticut, David Pittsinger holds a masters degree in vocal performance from the Yale School of Music and was a recipient of the “Outstanding Alumnus Award” at his undergraduate alma mater, the University of Connecticut. Upon graduation, he became a member of the Merola Program at the San Francisco Opera. Mr. Pittsinger can be heard on the Grammy Award-winning Virgin Classics recording of Carlysle Floyd's Susannah and in La Calisto by Cavalli on the Harmonia Mundi label. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and their two children.
"The standout performance [in 'Camelot' at the Glimmerglass Festival] was David Pittsinger’s charismatic, nuanced Arthur, touchingly characterized and nobly voiced. "Steve Smith, The New York Times
"Dominating the show, at least in this reviewer’s opinion, is David Pittsinger as Emile de Becque. Emile is in many ways the most operatic role ever written for a Broadway musical... Mr. Pittsinger fits this substantial résumé, and more. A veteran opera singer himself, his vocal skills are carefully tailored here to fit the mostly-Broadway spirit of the show. His brilliant, knife-clean bass-baritone voice, impeccable enunciation—even with a French accent—and his authoritative, passionate delivery provide the perfect mix of romance, passion, and traditional masculine bravado. And his vocal delivery of ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ as well as the sorrowing ‘This Nearly Was Mine’ registers extraordinarily high on the three-hanky scale. His Emile is perhaps the definitive interpretation of this role in our time."Terry Ponick, The Washington Times
"But wait until you hear the gorgeous ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ and ‘This Nearly Was Mine’ as sung by bass-baritone David Pittsinger, who portrays Emile de Becque, the smooth French wooer of the cockeyed American optimist, Ensign Nellie Forbush. That quadruple bassoon of a voice interpreting the Richard Rodgers melodies—among the most melting ever composed for the theater—is all the seduction that you or Nellie need. Somehow, the effortlessness of Pittsinger’s technique helps in the illusion that the great romance at the core of ‘South Pacific’ truly is operatic in scope."Peter Marks, The Washington Post
"The bass-baritone David Pittsinger made an intimidating Don Giovanni, physically impressive and deploying a voice that radiated power even when he was singing softly. In Là ci darem la mano, he displayed vocal beauty that had a muscular edge, preventing his voice from ever descending into empty prettiness. This was particularly apparent in the mandolin-accompanied serenade Deh vieni alla finestra, where Pittsinger’s husky voice effectively undermined the Don’s would-be sweetness"David Fleshler, South Florida Classical Review