Alan Held, Bass-Baritone
Master Teacher and Guest Performer
Recognized internationally as one of the leading singing actors today, American bass-baritone, Alan Held, has appeared in major roles in the world’s finest opera houses, including The Metropolitan Opera, The Vienna State Opera, The Royal Opera House Covent Garden, The Paris Opera, The Bavarian State Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Teatre del Liceu, Hamburg State Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera, Netherlands Opera, Theatre Royal de la Monnaie, The Canadian Opera Company, and Teatro de la Maestranza. His many roles include Wotan in Wagner’s Der Ring Des Nibelungen, Amfortas in Parsifal, Scarpia in Tosca, The Four Villains in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Jochanaan in Salome, Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde, Don Pizzaro in Fidelio, Orestes in Elektra, Balstrode in Peter Grimes, and the title roles in Gianni Schicchi, Der Fliegende Holländer, Wozzeck, and Cardillac.
Equally at home on the concert stage, he has performed with the world’s leading orchestras including The Berlin Philharmonic, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, The Pittsburgh Symphony, The National Symphony Orchestra, The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, The BBC-Scottish Symphony Orchestra, The Paris Orchestra, The Kirov Opera Orchestra, and The Montreal Symphony Orchestra. He has also appeared at the Salzburg and Tanglewood Festivals as well as the BBC Proms.
He has worked with the such distinguished conductors as James Levine, Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Colin Davis, Christoph von Dohnányi, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, Valery Gergiev, Bernard Haitink, Mariss Jansons, James Conlon, Sir Charles Mackerras, Zubin Mehta, Franz Welser-Möst, Kent Nagano, Sir Simon Rattle, David Robertson, Donald Runnicles, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Jeffrey Tate.
The 2015-2016 began with Mr. Held performing with the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra as the narrator in Schoenberg’s “A Survivor from Warsaw” and as the bass soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. He appeared as Orest in Elektra in Montreal under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Mr. Held’s season will then turn towards Wagner as he sings Wotan/Wanderer in Siegfried with the Canadian Opera Company and in the complete Der Ring des Nibelungen with Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center.
The 2014-2015 season began with Mr. Held returning to The Vienna State Opera to sing one of his signature roles, Jochanaan in Salome. He repeated the role in San Antonio in early 2015. He returned to perform with Washington National Opera at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Dialogues of the Carmelites and Der Fliegende Holländer. He sang “The Five Mystical Songs” with the Wichita State University Chamber Chorale. He also sang one his most performed roles, Pizarro in Fidelio at The Teatro Real in Madrid and with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and then returned to the Bavarian State Opera to sing Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde.
The 2013-2014 season began with Mr. Held returning to the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto to sing Balstrode in Peter Grimes as part of the Benjamin Britten Centennial Celebration. He received the 2014 DORA Award, “Outstanding Performance-Male” (Presented by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts) for his performance. He then sang concert performances of the opera in St. Louis and in New York (Carnegie Hall) with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Held appeared for the first time with Opera San Antonio in semi-staged performances of Rusalka. He returned to Minnesota Opera to sing the role of the Mogul in Argento’s The Dream of Valentino. He then traveled to Munich to sing one of his signature roles, Jochanaan, in Salome. He sang performances of the opera with The Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Later, returned to The Cleveland Orchestra to sing the role of The Forester in Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen. He also returned to Munich to sing the title role in Der Fliegende Holländer at the Bavarian State Opera.
The 2012-2013 season has had Mr. Held singing the role of Orest in a new production of Elektra at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. He then sang the role of Der Wanderer (Wotan) in the Fura dels Baus production of Siegfried at the Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville. He appeared at Carnegie Hall in a performance of "L'enfance du Christ" with the New York Choral Society and returned to the Canadian Opera Company to sing Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde. He sang the role of Hans Sachs in concert performances of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in Tokyo, and sang Wotan in Das Rheingold at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. In May, 2013, he will sing one of his most performed roles, Jochanaan, in Salome and later appear at The Cincinnati May Festival in a gala concert honoring Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi. He sung, as the baritone soloist, in Britten’s “War Requiem” at the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago in June, 2013. A performance of excerpts from Wagner Operas was presented with famed soprano, Christine Brewer, at The Blossom Festival with The Cleveland Orchestra in July of 2013 to complete the season.
Mr. Held has established a close relationship with the Canadian Opera. He is a five time nominee for a Dora Mavor Moore Award which are annually presented by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts.
Mr. Held sang the role of Don Pizzaro for the 2003 EMI Classics recording of Beethoven’s Fidelio with The Berlin Philharmonic under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle. Mr. Held can be seen in the title role on the 2005 Harmonia Mundi DVD recording of Cardillac from The Paris Opera lead by Kent Nagano. He appears as Donner on the 1990 Deutsche Grammophone DVD recording of Das Rheingold from The Metropolitan Opera conducted by James Levine. Also from The Met, Mr. Held can be seen as Peter on the 2008 EMI DVD recording of Humperdink’s Hansel and Gretel staged by Richard Jones and conducted by Vladimir Jurowski. In September 2011, Orfeo Records released a live recording of Rusalka that was made at the Salzburg Festival in 2008 with Mr. Held, Piotr Beczala, Camilla Nylund and The Cleveland Orchestra under the baton of Franz Welser-Möst. A DVD recording from the 2011 Baden-Baden production of Salome, directed by Nikolaus Lehnhoff, was recently released on the Arthaus Musik label.
A native of Washburn, Illinois, Mr. Held received his vocal training at Millikin University and Wichita State University. He is a recipient of numerous honors and awards including The Birgit Nilsson Prize. He received an Honorary Doctorate from Millikin University in 2000. He is also a noted clinician and regularly gives public master classes and private coachings at Yale University. In January, 2014, Mr. Held was named The Ann and Dr. Dennis Ross Faculty of Distinction in Opera at Wichita State University. He continues his active vocal career in addition to serving as an Associate Professor in the School of Fine Arts.
Mr. Held is serving as the Artist in Residence for the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program at The Washington National Opera during the 2015-2016 season and also at The Wolf Trap Opera Company during their summer 2016 season.