Bass-baritone Christian Simmons is a Grand Finals Winner of the 2023 Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition, honoured with the Noreen Zimmerman Award. He captured his victory with stunning performances of “Non più andrai” from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and “Ves’ tabar spit” from Rachmaninoff’s Aleko at the Laffont Grand Finals Concert, conducted by Michele Gamba, on April 23 at the Metropolitan Opera. The concert was broadcast on Met Opera Radio (SiriusXM channel 355).

One of the most prestigious honours in opera, the Laffont Competition was founded in 1954 as the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. It is designed to discover the promising young opera singers and assist them in the development of their careers. Simmons joins a star-studded cohort of winners that includes Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Eric Owens, Lawrence Brownlee, Jakub Józef Orliński, Matthew Cairns, Thomas Glass, Kirsten MacKinnon, Raven McMillon, Elena Villalón and Hongni Wu.

Originally from Washington, D.C., Christian Simmons is taking the opera world by storm. Winner of the Opera Foundation’s 37th Annual Scholarship Competition and a member of the Cafritz Young Artists of the Washington National Opera program, he will make his European debut at Deutsche Oper Berlin singing Zuniga in Carmen, Lord Rochefort in Anna Bolena, Sciarrone in Tosca, Betto di Signa in Gianni Schicchi, the High Priest of Babylon in Nabucco, 2nd Armored Man in Die Zauberflöte, Commissioner in Madama Butterfly, 3rd Noble in Lohengrin, Messenger in La traviata and Sergeant in La bohème. Additional forthcoming highlights include his Atlanta Opera debut as Colline in La bohème and joining the Santa Fe Opera as an Apprentice Artist singing Apollo in Orfeo and covering Vodnik in Rusalka.

In his final season as a member of the Cafritz Young Artists of the Washington National Opera, Mr. Simmons has covers in Il trovatore (Ferrando) and La bohème (Colline), and sings in Blue (Policeman), the American Opera Initiative, and the young artist performance of La bohème (Colline). Since his debut season with the Washington National Opera, he has been seen in the documentary film and studio recording of Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson’s Blue; and as Zuniga in their young artist performance of Carmen.

In the 2021/22 season, Mr. Simmons was a featured soloist with Maestro Gianandrea Noseda and the National Symphony Orchestra, performing the bass soloist in Mozart’s Requiem and concert aria “Per questa bella mano” at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. During the summer he performed with Barnard College in Southern Crossings (January) and Annapolis Opera in La bohème (Colline).

Mr. Simmons has performed with various festivals and companies around the world including the Morgan State University Theater, Bel Cantanti Opera Company, Washington Opera Society, Castleton Music Festival, Amalfi Coast Music Festival, Berlin Opera Academy, Bare Opera Company, and the Maryland Opera Studio. Performance highlights include Le nozze di Figaro (Figaro), Aida (King), Rigoletto (Sparafucile), L’incoronazione di Poppea (Seneca), Roméo et Juliette (Duke), La finta giardiniera (Nardo), The Wiz (Lion), and The Devil and Daniel Webster (Jabez Stone). Mr. Simmons has also been featured as the bass soloist in such works as G.F. Handel’s Messiah, J.S. Bach’s Magnificat, Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem, Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem, and Franz Schubert’s Mass in G Major.

Mr. Simmons is a winner of the Harlem Opera Theater 2017 Vocal Competition and the National Association of Teaching Singing (NATS) 2016 regional competition. He also has an honorary lifetime membership in the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts (CAAPA).

A graduate of Morgan State University and the Maryland Opera Studio, Mr. Simmons is a proud member of the nation’s first and largest music fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America.

His inspiration for singing comes from a quote from the late Dr. Nathan M. Carter, “Music is ministry: it has to go beyond the page; it must inspire.”