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Eric Owens

Departments:

Voice and Opera

Photo: Dario Acosta

 

 

 

    • 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 opera performances, Owens brings his powerful poise, expansive voice and instinctive acting faculties to stages around the world.

      Owens has created an uncommon niche for himself in the ever-growing body of contemporary opera works through his determined tackling of new and challenging roles. He received great critical acclaim for portraying the title role in the world premiere of Elliot Goldenthal’s Grendel with the Los Angeles Opera, and again at the Lincoln Center Festival, in a production directed and designed by Julie Taymor. Owens also enjoys a close association with John Adams, for whom he performed the role of General Leslie Groves in the world premiere of Doctor Atomic at the San Francisco Opera, and of the Storyteller in the world premiere of A Flowering Tree at Peter Sellars’s New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna and later with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Doctor Atomic was later recorded and received the 2012 Grammy for Best Opera Recording. Owens made his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut under the baton of David Robertson in Adams’s Nativity oratorio El Niño.

      Owens’s career operatic highlights include his San Francisco Opera debut in Otello conducted by Donald Runnicles; his Royal Opera, Covent Garden, debut in  Norma; Aida at Houston Grand Opera; Rigoletto, Il Trovatore and La Bohème at Los Angeles Opera; Die Zauberflöte for his Paris Opera (Bastille) debut; and Ariodante and L’Incoronazione di Poppea at the English National Opera. He sang Collatinus in a highly acclaimed Christopher Alden production of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia at Glimmerglass Opera. A former member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, Owens has sung Sarastro, Mephistopheles in Faust, Frère Laurent, Angelotti in Tosca, and Aristotle Onassis in the world premiere of Jackie O (available on the Argo label) with that company. Owens is featured on two Telarc recordings with the Atlanta Symphony: Mozart’s Requiem and scenes from Strauss’ Elektra and Die Frau ohne Schatten, both conducted by Donald Runnicles. He is featured on the Nonesuch Records release of A Flowering Tree. Owens has been recognized with multiple honors, including the 2003 Marian Anderson Award, a 1999 ARIA award, and second prize in the Plácido Domingo Operalia Competition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition.

      A native of Philadelphia, Owens began his musical training as a pianist at the age of six, followed by formal oboe study at age eleven under Lloyd Shorter of the Delaware Symphony and Louis Rosenblatt of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He studied voice while an undergraduate at Temple University, and then as a graduate student at the Curtis Institute of Music. He currently studies with Armen Boyajian. He serves on the Board of Trustees of both the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and Astral Artistic Services.

    • "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

       

      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