Lebanese-American tenor Karim Sulayman has garnered international attention as a sophisticated and versatile artist of his generation. Consistently praised for his sensitive and intelligent musicianship, riveting stage presence, and beautiful voice, he regularly performs on the world’s stages in orchestral concerts and opera, as well as in recital and chamber music.
A native of Chicago, Karim’s musical education began with violin studies at age 3. He spent years as a boy alto in the Chicago Children’s Choir and was hand selected by Sir Georg Solti and Leonard Slatkin as a soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and St. Louis Symphony. He graduated with highest honors from the Eastman School of Music, where he worked in the Collegium Musicum under the tutelage of Paul O’Dette, and earned a Masters degree from Rice University. He later moved to Paris, France, where he studied with renowned tenor/haute-contre, Howard Crook. He also studied improvisation at the Second City Training Center in Chicago.
In 2018 he makes his debut at Stockholm’s Drottningholm Slottsteater as Claudio Monteverdi in the world premiere of Syskonen I Mantua, and in 2017 he created the role of Albert in the world premiere of Laura Kaminsky’s Some Light Emerges for Houston Grand Opera. He has also appeared with Boston Lyric Opera, Chicago Opera Theater and New York City Opera.
Karim’s credits in the Italian Baroque include his 2017 Australian debut as Testo in Monteverdi’s Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. He has portrayed the leading role of Eurillo in Scarlatti’s Gli Equivoci nel Sembiante, Arnalta and Lucano (L’incoronazione di Poppea), Eumete, Anfinomo and Eurimaco (Il ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria), Delfa (Giasone), as well as the tenor solos in Monteverdi’s Vespro della Beata Virgine (1610). In 2018, he makes his title role debut in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo with Apollo’s Fire under Jeannette Sorrell on a US national tour.
A dedicated chamber musician, Sulayman was a frequent participant at the Marlboro Music Festival under the direction of and in collaboration with pianists Mitsuko Uchida and Richard Goode. He has since been presented by many leading chamber music festivals and in 2017, he appeared in concerts of French chamber works at the Roman River Festival in the UK which were recorded and aired by BBC Radio 3.
Other highlights include appearances at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the International Bach Festival, and the Aldeburgh Festival, and collaborations with such conductors as Harry Bicket, Jane Glover, Helmuth Rilling, Yves Abel and Robert Spano. As a passionate advocate of new music, he has performed world premieres at Carnegie Hall, the Casals Festival and the Aspen Music Festival.
His discography includes the title role in Handel’s Acis and Galatea, two releases for NAXOS in works of Grétry and Philidor, Apollo’s Fire’s Sephardic Journey on AVIE, and an album of 21st-century chamber works, Piercing are the Darts, on Furious Artisans. He is featured in the ARTE documentary Leonard Bernstein – The Composer, to be aired throughout Europe in the summer of 2018 and subsequently released on DVD.
Karim also created a social experiment/performance art piece called I Trust You, designed to build bridges in a divided political climate. A video version of this experiment went “viral,” receiving millions of views on the internet, and was honored as a prizewinner in the My Hero Film Festival.