Texas Native Michael Mayes Leads RIGOLETTO at Houston Grand Opera
Baritone Michael Mayes steps in to sing the title role in Verdi's Rigoletto at Houston Grand Opera. He performs the opening night performance on 18, and two additional performances on October 20 and 26. The Boston Musical Intelligencer lauded his debut in the role in 2014 with Boston Lyric Opera: "His baritone, powerful yet fully controlled, shifted seamlessly in color between expressions of terror, pleading, and angry vengeance." He returns to the role later this season with Nashville Opera.
Mayes has recently earned unanimous critical acclaim for his signature role of Joseph De Rocher in Dead Man Walking in Madrid, Washington National Opera and most recently The BBC Orchestra. This season, he reprises Rocher with Israeli Opera. Raised in Cut And Shoot Texas, Michael graduated from Conroe High School. After a football injury made him choose an alternative elective to typing class, he turned to high school choir. He eventually became president of the choir, and and that early exposure to singing set his course for a life of making music. Since graduating from UNT, he has been working his way up the ranks in the U.S., and his recent triumphs in London and Madrid have set him on a path to international stardom, including Nixon in China and Iphigénie en Tauride with Staatsoper Stuttgart and Sweeney Todd with Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra.
Michael is highly sought after for rich dramatic baritone roles like Tonio in Pagliacci and Scarpia in Tosca, but his passion lies in twenty-first century operas by living composers such as Jake Heggie who have important stories to tell about finding justice and equality in a world rife with pain. His mantra is "opera with a conscience," and he uses his unique artistic perspective to effect tangible positive change with his performances. After Mayes sang Dead Man Walking in Tulsa, a woman approached him and said that he changed the way she thought about the man who killed her daughter. In Dallas after Michael's performance of the new opera Everest, a couple pulled him aside and told him that they had met in a support group for suicide survivors, and the opera told their story in a way that was incredibly healing for both of them. Following Michael's performance of Glory Denied in Tennessee, a man expressed how the opera helped to heal his son's relationship with his active duty mother.
Full cast and production information for the Houston production of Rigoletto are available at https://www.houstongrandopera.org/rigoletto