Eric Owens

Bass-Baritone

Biography

Bass-baritone Eric Owens has a unique reputation as an esteemed interpreter of classic works and a champion of new music. Equally at home in orchestral, recital, and operatic repertoire, Mr. Owens brings his powerful poise, expansive voice, and instinctive acting faculties to stages around the world.

In the 2017-18 season, Mr. Owens will return to the Lyric Opera of Chicago to make his role debut as Wotan in David Pountney’s new production of Wagner’s Die Walküre. He will also sing Filippo II in Verdi’s Don Carlo at Washington National Opera, Don Basilio in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia at Houston Grand Opera, Enrico in Donizetti’s Anna Bolena at Canadian Opera Company, and the Forester in Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen at the Glimmerglass Festival, where he will serve as Artist in Residence and Artistic Advisor. Concert appearances include Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Muti, Verdi’s Requiem with both the National Symphony Orchestra led by Gianandrea Noseda and the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Music of the Baroque. He will also give a recital at the Shriver Center in Baltimore, as well as dual recitals with Susanna Phillips at the Schubert Club in St. Paul and Lawrence Brownlee at the Celebrity Series of Boston.

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Reviews

“Owens’ idiomatic use of the text went beyond the typical big-operatic moment, turning the scene into a startlingly intimate outpouring of a being who has been all-powerful until this very moment, when he must exile his favorite daughter. The sense of resignation was monumental in singing that was disarmingly quiet but audible, thanks to his rhetorical conviction – though conductor Smith didn’t always hold back the orchestra.”

David Patrick Stearns

The Philadelphia Inquirer

“The towering bass-baritone Eric Owens … was magnificent in “Lost in the Stars.” Mr. Owens triumphed in the lead role of Stephen Kumalo. [His] complete identification with Kumalo comes through in every moment of his searing portrayal. … Mr. Owens’ delivery of the spoken lines, touched with a South African accent, was nuanced and powerful … It was unbearably moving.”

Anthony Tommasini

The New York Times

More Reviews

“Owens’ idiomatic use of the text went beyond the typical big-operatic moment, turning the scene into a startlingly intimate outpouring of a being who has been all-powerful until this very moment, when he must exile his favorite daughter. The sense of resignation was monumental in singing that was disarmingly quiet but audible, thanks to his rhetorical conviction – though conductor Smith didn’t always hold back the orchestra.”

David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“The towering bass-baritone Eric Owens … was magnificent in “Lost in the Stars.” Mr. Owens triumphed in the lead role of Stephen Kumalo. [His] complete identification with Kumalo comes through in every moment of his searing portrayal. … Mr. Owens’ delivery of the spoken lines, touched with a South African accent, was nuanced and powerful … It was unbearably moving.”

Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times

“Based on Alan Paton’s anti-apartheid novel “Cry, the Beloved Country,” this hybrid of opera and music theater is ideally served by Tazewell Thompson’s sensitive, understated production; the splendid Glimmerglass chorus, made up of the company’s apprentice artists; and especially the towering, heartfelt performance of Eric Owens, this summer’s artist-in-residence. … His huge, lyrical bass-baritone expresses the boundless optimism of “Thousands of Miles” and the raw pain of the title song; his body, hunched in shame before the father of the man his son has killed, is equally eloquent. He makes Maxwell Anderson’s text seem dignified and formal, not stilted. ”

Heidi Waleson, The Wall Street Journal

“Mr. Owens quickly established his ability to wrap his deep voice around a text and create a distinct sense of character. You had to admire not only the nuanced tone he brought to Wolf’s ‘Three Poems by Michelangelo’ but the thoughtful mingling currents of reverence and passion as well. Otherworldly qualities of a darker sort informed Schumann’s ‘Muttertraum’ and ‘Der Schatzgräber,’ and in Schubert’s ‘Prometheus’ Mr. Owens maintained a perfect balance of dignity and rage. Other complexities, both emotional and technical, illuminated his readings of the French songs. In Debussy’s ‘Beau Soir’ and ‘L’Âme Évaporée’ he wove a strand of resignation through the music’s ravishing surface textures. His French set also included an elegant, supple account of Henri Duparc’s ‘Invitation au Voyage’ and a courtly (if virtually parody free) interpretation of Ravel’s ‘Don Quichotte à Dulcinée.’ ”

Allan Kozinn, The New York Times

“American bass-baritone Eric Owens speaks to you even in his silences…. and shakes you when he sings.”

Andrew Patner, Chicago Sun Times

“Eric Owens (Alberich) sang with mastery that would be at home in any Wagnerian golden age. ”

David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer

“The chief glory of this production is Eric Owens’s performance as Alberich.”

Alex Ross, The New Yorker

“Eric Owens, now one of the greatest bass-baritones in the world, was sublime as crazy Alberich.”

Manuela Hoelterhoff, Bloomberg News

“Owens, an American marvel, has been hitting on all cylinders lately with triumphs around the world in the Sellars-John Adams ‘Doctor Atomic’ (as Gen. Leslie Groves) and as a show-stealing Alberich in the Metropolitan Opera’s new ‘Das Rheingold.'(Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti handpicked the Philadelphia native to sing Lodovico in Verdi’s ‘Otello’ next month in Chicago and at Carnegie Hall.) He triumphed with intense and telling morning-time offerings of Hugo Wolf’s Michelangelo songs and Schumann’s towering ‘Dichterliebe’ at the Mayne Stage event, which marked his Chicago recital debut. A post-broadcast encore of Leporello’s Catalogue Aria from Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’ (complete with hilarious and never overdone stage movement) made one eager to see him in a full recital and back at Lyric in more roles. ”

Andrew Patner, Chicago Sun Times

“During the Met’s new “Rheingold” last season, Mr. Owens proved an Alberich for the ages.”

Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times

“The breakout performance here is by bass-baritone Eric Owens, who as Porgy commands the stage with a warm, sympathetic voice and presence.”

Mike Silverman, Associated Press

“Bass Eric Owens’s debut as Porgy is an act of possession, marked by velvety tone and disarming emotional candor. ”

Allan Ulrich, Financial Times

“The great exception is Porgy, the work’s emotional heart, powerfully played on Saturday by Eric Owens…If the characters in this opera tend to be two-dimensional, it’s easy to make Porgy simply a saint, but Owens kept an eye on his humanity, and sang gorgeously.”

Anne Midgette, Washington Post

“What happened at the opening was an exhilarating, consistently excellent presentation, headed by Eric Owens as Porgy. It’s a long way from Gershwin’s Catfish Row to Wagner’s Walhalla, but my money is on Owens traversing the distance. He sang the role of the crippled beggar…with an inner power and stunning beauty of tone.”

Janos Gereben, San Francisco Examiner

“Owens has an opera singer’s ability to conceive of each song as an expression from an individual person. Within the compass of his deep, rich tone lies a reserve of gentleness as well as power. Not the kind of voice that focuses sharply on a pitch, this one is broad and open; while only medium in agility, it is surprisingly flexible in shading a wide range of volume…. Artistry of such gentility is rare, the more so from a voice whose nature wants to be big and burly, but whose owner has other plans.”

John W. Freeman, Opera News