American bass-baritone Michael Sumuel, lauded as having “vocals [that] are smooth and ingratiating” (Daily Camera), will make his role and house debut in the 2020/21 season at the Seattle Opera performing Leporello in Don Giovanni, his debut at the Michigan Opera Theatre as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Opera Philadelphia as Angelotti in Tosca and Allan in Chausson’s setting of King Arthur with Bard SummerScape. Concert engagements include the St. Matthew Passion with the Music of the Baroque in Boston, Beethoven’s Missa solemnis with the Kansas City Symphony and a solo recital of Schubert lieder with the Schubert Club in Minneapolis.
In the 2019/20 season, Michael Sumuel returned to San Francisco Opera to perform the title role in a new production of Le nozze di Figaro. Other operatic appearances included reprising Escamillo in Carmen with the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, and joining the roster of the Metropolitan Opera in Agrippina. Concert engagements included the Cleveland Orchestra for Mozart’s Mass in C minor, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, the Pittsburgh Symphony and Grant Park Music Festival for Beethoven’s Missa solemnis, St. Matthew Passion with the Washington National Cathedral, and the St. John Passion with Florida Orchestra.
In the 2018/19 season, Michael Sumuel performed Marcello in La bohème at Houston Grand Opera, and Alidoro in La Cenerentola at Norwegian National Opera and Ballet. On the concert stage, Mr. Sumuel sang Haydn’s Theresienmesse with the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Puccini’s Messa di Gloria with the San Diego Symphony, and participated in a Schubertiade at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia. He also joined the Phoenix Symphony for performances of Messiah and Mercury Houston for Bach’s Magnificat.
In the 2017/18 season, Michael Sumuel returned to Glyndebourne Festival Opera to perform Sharpless in Madama Butterfly and made his debut at Teatro Massimo di Palermo performing Theseus in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Concert appearances included debuts with the BBC Proms, singing Kate Whitley’s “I am I say” with the Multi-Story Orchestra at Eastgate Centre Rooftop Car Park, Mozart’s Mass in C minor with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, conducted by Pablo Heras-Casado at Carnegie Hall, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Seattle Symphony, Handel’s Messiah with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Bach’s St. John Passion with Music of the Baroque in Chicago, conducted by Jane Glover, and a return to Mercury Houston to perform the bass solos in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.
Previous seasons have included his Lyric Opera of Chicago debut as Masetto in a new production of Don Giovanni, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, as well as his San Francisco Opera debut as Tom in the world premiere of Christopher Theofanidis’ Heart of a Soldier in Francesca Zambello’s production. Subsequent appearances included Escamillo in Calixto Bieito’s production, Masetto, conducted by Marc Minkowski, and Elviro in Handel’s Xerxes. At Houston Grand Opera, he has performed Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, Papageno in The Magic Flute, Frank in Die Fledermaus, Masetto, Sharpless, and Schaunard in John Caird’s new production of La bohéme, a role that also served as his European debut with Glyndebourne Festival Opera. He subsequently returned there to sing Junius in The Rape of Lucretia and Theseus. At Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, he performed Alidoro and Escamillo, and made his role debut as Figaro in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro with Dayton Opera, later reprising the role for his company debut with Central City Opera. At Opera Southwest, Wolf Trap Opera and Juilliard Opera, in cooperation with the Metropolitan Opera, Mr. Sumuel performed the role of Selim in Rossini’s Il turco in Italia.
Notable concert appearances include Messiah with San Francisco Symphony, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic, United States Naval Academy, and University Musical Society in Ann Arbor. He later returned to San Francisco Symphony to perform Copland’s Old American Songs. He made his European concert debut with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic in Mozart’s Mass in C minor at the Concertgebouw, conducted by Speranza Scappucci. With the Cleveland Orchestra, he performed Pilatus in Bach’s St. John Passion, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst, as well as Mozart’s Requiem with the North Carolina Symphony and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the American Classical Orchestra at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. He has made multiple appearances with Mercury Houston, including a Haydn’s Paukenmesse and excerpts from Rameau’s Les Indes galantes and Thétis, a concert of select Bach cantatas, and Messiah. He has also appeared with Da Camera of Houston for a program of Brahms and Schönberg lieder in a multi-media project called “In the Garden of Dreams” and the Santa Barbara Symphony for selected scenes from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.
Mr. Sumuel’s competition accolades include being awarded a Richard Tucker Career Grant, Metropolitan Opera National Council audition Grand Finalist and a winner of the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition. A Texas native, he is an alumnus of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera and the Filene Young Artist program at Wolf Trap Opera.
“Bass-baritone Michael Sumuel plays the title character with near-reckless, unabated exuberance. His three arias, each iconic in its own way, seem remarkably fresh in Sumuel’s interpretation, particularly the show-stopping jealousy number “Aprite un po’quegli occhi” in Act IV. His vocals are smooth and ingratiating, imbuing the character with the humanity he needs.”
“The standout among them was bass-baritone Michael Sumuel, who brought luminous tone and theatrical presence to the roles of a Rhodesian barkeep and a Vietnam medic.”
“Most notable was bass-baritone Michael Sumuel in his San Francisco Opera debut, whose strong and convincing portrayal was the most affecting and convincing of the evening.”
California Literary Review