Michael Austin, tenor
Michael Austin is one of the only African American Otello’s of his time. Having appeared as the dark Moor on numerous occasions, he has made a reputation for himself in this role. In July and August 2012, Mr. Austin sang fifteen performances of Otello with great critical acclaim with Festival Belle Ile en Mer in France. In April 2012, he sang Otello with Knoxville Opera to great acclaim from audiences and critics alike. He made his debut as Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana with the Staatstheater Stuttgart, which led to performances as Radames in Aida, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Gabriele Adorno in Simon Boccanegra, Max in Der Freischütz, Jimmy Mahoney in Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, Admetus in Gluck's Alceste, the tenor solos in Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde and the title role in Wagner’s Parsifal.
This season Mr. Austin will make his role debut as Canio in Pagliacci with Metz Opera, and bring his Otello to Japan. He also appears as Sportin' Life in Porgy & Bess with the Wiesbaden stadttheater and Worms Stadttheater. He will make his debut with the Royal Opera Copenhagen as Robbins in Porgy & Bess.
He has been heard in Hanover as Ismael in Nabucco, in Berlin, Brünn (the Czech Republic), Prague, Metz and Karlsruhe as Pinkerton, in Regensburg as Turiddu, St. Petersburg and Moscow as Narraboth in Salome and in Basel and Bern as Mario Cavaradossi in Tosca. In America, his many operatic appearances include the world premiere of Philip Glass' Akhenaten, which also served as the vehicle for his New York City Opera debut.
Mr. Austin has performed Enzo Grimaldi in La Gioconda, the title role in Ernani and Avito in Montemezzi's rarely heard L’Amore di Tre Re with Greater Miami Opera; Narraboth in Salome with Houston Grand Opera and the New Orleans Opera; Alfredo in La Traviata with Opera Omaha and Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor for the National Grand Opera. Mr. Austin made his South American debut in Rio de Janeiro as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly and has sung Ismaele with Opera de Puerto Rico. His debut in Canada was with Opera Hamilton and in Toronto as Alfredo in La Traviata. He is frequently heard in concert. Most prominent is the Verdi Requiem, which he has performed in Cologne, Helsinki, Rome, Marseille and Bern. He has also performed Das Lied von der Erde with Brigitte Fassbaender and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy as well as with the Cologne Philharmonic and London's Wigmore Hall and in Teatro alla Scala. Mr. Austin has performed and recorded Schreker's Die Gezeichneten, which was conducted by Edo de Waart. He subsequently made his Salzburg Festival recital debut at the ‘Grosse Aula’. Mr. Austin made his English National Opera debut as Joe in the Bizet/Hammerstein production of Carmen Jones directed by Simon Callowunder the musical direction of Henry Lewis. The production was subsequently recorded and released by EMI. Recent engagements included an appearance with the Dallas Symphony as Cavaradossi under the baton of Andrew Litton with great acclaim. He returned to Stuttgart in Das Lied von der Erde, which he also sang in Turin, and in Brünn, he sang Radames in Aida and the title role in Wagner’s Lohengrin.
And with the radio symphony in Stuttgart he was the tenor soloist in Janacek's Glagolitic Mass. Oher engagements include the title role of Verdi's Otello and Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly for the Warsaw State Opera, and performances in Nabucco, Schönberg's Kreidekreis, and Erik in Der Fliegende Holländer all for Heidelberg.
He also performed the tenor solos in Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde for Radio France in Paris and Janacek's Glagolitic Mass in Lisbon as well as the tenor solos in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in Helsinki and Tokyo and in Verdi's Requiem in Marseilles. He appeared in the title role of Otello with the Cleveland Opera. Recently, Mr. Austin appeared in performances of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, which took him to Madrid, Detroit, Bregenz, New Orleans, Hamburg, Berlin, Munich and the new production at the New York City Opera. He has also sung Narraboth in Salome for the New Orleans Opera, Das Lied von der Erde in Milan’s La Scala, Verdi’s Requiem in Geneva and Otello with the Gdansk Opera where he received a fifteen-minute standing ovation. After such success, he was contracted to return to sing Jacobo in I Due Foscari. In December 2009, Mr Austin became the first non-Chinese to sing a leading role in a Chinese opera (Mulan Palms) in the Mandarin language with the now first lady of China as artistic partner in that production.
In 2009, Mr. Austin appeared with the San Francisco Opera, singing the role of Robbins in Porgy & Bess. He also performed the title role of Otello with the Regensburg Stadt Theater, in 2010, he sang the Verdi Requiem with the Zurich Philharmonic and a concert version of Wagner’s Siegfried in Peking. In 2011, he sang Otello with the Bratislava State Opera and Robbins in Porgy & Bess with the Seattle Opera. In 2013, Mr. Austin sang Tristan in concert in Bayreuth.
A native of Wytheville, Virginia, Michael Austin received his musical education at Emory and Henry College, at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia and with the Juilliard School of Music. He has been a member of the Santa Fe Opera Festival where he was named `Outstanding Apprentice Artist. He received a BA in music from Emory and Henry College and a Master’s of Music from The Juilliard School of Music in New York. In June 2005, Mr Austin received the title ´Doctor of Fine Arts´ from Emory and Henry College.