Eric Owens

Eric Owens






  • Jennifer Larmore, Eric Owens, St. Olaf Choir…


Acclaimed for his commanding stage presence and inventive artistry, American bass-baritone Eric Owens has carved a unique place in the contemporary opera world as both a champion of new music and a powerful interpreter of classic works. Called “consistently charismatic, theatrically and vocally” by New York Magazine and “absolutely remarkable” by The Philadelphia Inquirer, Owens is equally at home in concert, recital and opera performances, bringing his powerful poise, expansive voice and instinctive acting faculties to stages around the globe.

The 2008-09 season sees Owens’s Metropolitan Opera debut in John Adams’s Doctor Atomic early this fall and a Carnegie Hall solo recital on April 24th, 2009, one of four Carnegie Hall engagements throughout the season. Owens also returns to Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles for two appearances, first in January 2009 with the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and then in the spring performing A Flowering Tree with the L.A. Philharmonic. His Carnegie Hall performances include Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer with the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Charles Dutoit; Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle; and “Honor: The Voice,” the culminating concert of Jessye Norman’s month-long festival celebrating the African American cultural legacy. Additionally, Owens makes a second appearance on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera in December 2008 as Sarastro in The Magic Flute, and returns to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden to sing opposite Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi in the spring. In February 2009, Owens sings scenes from Strauss’s Elektra and Die Frau ohne Schatten with Christine Brewer and the Atlanta Symphony under Donald Runnicles in performances to be recorded by Telarc. He is featured on the September 2008 Nonesuch Records release of A Flowering Tree, continuing his long-time collaboration with American composer John Adams.

Owens’ career operatic highlights include his San Francisco Opera debut as Lodovico in Otello conducted by Runnicles; his Royal Opera, Covent Garden debut as Oroveso in Norma; Ramfis in Aida at Houston Grand Opera; Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Ferrando in Il Trovatore and Colline in La Bohème at Los Angeles Opera; the Speaker in Die Zauberflöte for his Paris Opera (Bastille) debut; Fiesco in Simon Boccanegra and Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte with the Washington Opera; Rodolfo in La Sonnambula at the Bordeaux Opera; the King of Scotland in Ariodante and Seneca in L’Incoronazione di Poppea at the English National Opera; Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor and Alidoro at Pittsburgh Opera; Leporello in Don Giovanni at Florida Grand Opera; Sparafucile in a new production at the Oper der Stadt Köln and at Minnesota Opera; Banquo with Opera Pacific and Sarastro and Banquo with the Opera Company of Philadelphia. 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 a regular guest of the major American and European orchestras. His appearances have included performances with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Seattle Symphony, National Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony and Detroit Symphony among others. He has worked with today’s leading conductors including Wolfgang Sawallisch, Lorin Maazel, Michael Tilson Thomas, Yuri Temirkanov, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Franz Welser-Möst, John Nelson and Robert Spano. Owens is featured on a Telarc recording of Mozart’s Requiem with Donald Runnicles and the Atlanta Symphony.

Eric 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. Of Owens’ performance, The New Yorker’s Alex Ross raved, “His hefty, tonally focused, richly colored voice cut through the tumult of Goldenthal’s score, and his vital, naturalistic acting gave heart to a high-tech spectacle.” Eric Owens also enjoys a close association with John Adams, for whom he created 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’ New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna. Adams has also conducted the American bass-baritone in his setting of Whitman’s The Wound Dresser in a live broadcast with the BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall, and with the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. Owens made his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut under the baton of David Robertson in Adams’ Nativity oratorio El Niño.

In addition to great popular and critical acclaim, Eric Owens has been recognized with multiple awards, including the 2003 Marian Anderson Award, a 1999 ARIA award, and first prize in the Plácido Domingo Operalia Competition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition. Other awards include first prize in the MacAllister Awards Voice Competition, first prize in New York’s Opera Index Career Grant Auditions, first prize in the Palm Beach Opera National Voice Competition, and first prize in the Mario Lanza Voice Competition. Owens was also an ARTS Award recipient in The National Foundation for Advancement in Arts’ 1988 Arts Recognition and Talent Search.

A native of Philadelphia, Owens began his music 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 later studied voice while an undergraduate at Temple University and then as a graduate student at the Curtis Institute of Music, and 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.