http://benwager.com/

Ben Wager is a 2009 graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, where his roles included: Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Enrico in Anna Bolena, the title role in Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte and Padre Guardiano in La forza del destino.

Mr. Wager’s 2016-2017 season features a return to the Lyric Opera of Kansas City for performances of the Police Sergeant in Pirates of Penzance, a return to the Deutsche Oper Berlin in a variety of roles, and a solo recital with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.

Last season brought a company debut as Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro with Opera San Jose. After highly successful prior engagements with Minnesota Opera, the bass returned in the role of Vodnik in Dvorak’s Rusalka, and also returned to Opera Delaware as Lo Spettro/Luciano in Amleto.

 Mr. Wager’s 2014-2015 season brought an anticipated debut in Oslo with Den Norske Opera as Escamillo in Carmen, and as the Hotel Manager in Powder Her face with Odyssey Opera. Following his highly successful house debut as Colline in La bohème, he returned to the Lyric Opera of Kansas City for two roles: Taddeo in L’italiana in Algeri, and Angelotti in Tosca. He concluded the season with Washington D.C.’s Cathedral Choral Society, in a concert of opera favorites.

Mr. Wager performed the role of Colline in La bohème with PORTOpera during summer 2013. His 2013-2014 engagements included Nourabad in Les pêcheurs de perles with Nashville Opera, as well as a company debut with Lyric Opera of Kansas City as Colline. He joined the Albany Symphony for Dvořák’s Stabat Mater,and returned to the Deutsche Opera Berlin, to perform such as roles as Doctor Grenvil (Traviata), Zuniga (Carmen), Angelotti (Tosca), Der Steuermann (Tristan und Isolde), and Johann (Werther).

Mr. Wager sang Haydn’s Seasons with Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival and Carlos Kalmar in summer 2012. His engagements in 2012-2013 included Il Re in Aida with Dallas Opera, the Hotel Manager in Powder Her Face and the Sprecher in Die Zauberflöte with Opera Company of Philadelphia, Count Rodolfo in La sonnambula with Washington Concert Opera, and the title role in Don Giovanni in a new production with Kentucky Opera.

Mr. Wager’s 2011-2012 season included dual appearances at Minnesota Opera, as General Audebert in the world premiere of Silent Night, and Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor. Additionally, he debuted with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra under Music Director Jacques Lacombe for a series of concerts, joined the Oratorio Society of New York for Dvořák’s Stabat Mater, returned to the Oregon Symphony as the bass soloist in Haydn’s The Creation under the baton of Carlos Kalmar, and covered the Commendatore in the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s performances of Don Giovanni.

During the 2010-2011 season, Ben Wager maintained a presence in both North American and European opera houses. In the United States, he made debuts with Opera Cleveland as Nourabad in Les pêcheurs de perles and the Dallas Opera as Masetto in Don Giovanni, and returned to Minnesota Opera for the role of Hindley Earnshaw in Bernard Herrmann’s Wuthering Heights. As a member of the ensemble of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, which he joined in 2009, he sang Panthus in Les Troyens, Doctor Grenvil in La traviata, Angelotti in Tosca, and Escamillo in Carmen, among other roles.

For the 2009-2010 season, Mr. Wager’s assignments at the Deutsche Oper included Zuniga in Carmen, Angelotti in Tosca, and Sarastro in an abridged version of Die Zauberflöte. Additional engagements for the season included Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Mozarteum of Salzburg under Ivor Bolton, Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the Oregon Symphony led by Carlos Kalmar, and his debut with the Los Angeles Opera as Julian Pinelli in Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten.

During the 2008-2009 season, he concluded his residency at the Academy of Vocal Arts as Enrico in Anna Bolena, Il Vescovo in La fiamma, and Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, joined Minnesota Opera to sing the bass roles in the North American premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Adventures of Pinocchio, and made his debut at Opera Philadelphia as Collatinus in The Rape of Lucretia.

Mr. Wager spent the summer of 2008 as a member of the prestigious Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera, where he sang the role of Il Commendatore in Catherine Malfitano’s production of Don Giovanni.

Other notable engagements include: Masetto in Don Giovanni for his debut at Chicago Opera Theater, under the baton of Jane Glover; Monterone in Rigoletto and Der Sprecher in Die Zauberflöte with Opera New Jersey; and appearances as Kaspar in Der Freischütz, Gremin and Zaretsky in Eugene Onegin, Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and the bass soloist in Mozart’s Mass in C Minor with the Academy of Vocal Arts.

Ben Wager studies with world-renowned voice teacher Bill Schuman.

Minnesota Opera – Rusalka

Another highlight of the night is bass Ben Wager in the role of Vodník, the water gnome, who transitions credibly from lusty nature spirit to heartbroken father; his voice brings out both the depth and tenderness of Dvořzák’s music.”

Lydia Lunning, Twin Cities Arts Reader

Opera San Jose – Le nozze di Figaro

Merola alumnus Ben Wager, singing the title role, displayed a seamless adaptability to the musical demands of his versatile character in the “Non piu andrai” and “Se vuol ballare” arias. But it was his resonant performance of “Aprite un po’ quegli occhi” that was utterly unforgettable, given with penetrating tone from top to bottom and remaining in mind long after the applause died.”

Elijah Ho, San Jose Mercury News

Lyric Opera of Kansas City – La bohème

Ben Wager’s Colline and Marcus DeLoach’s Schaunard offered welcome, well-timed humor, making their mournful reactions more pitiful, especially Wager’s prayerful ‘Vecchia zimarra.'”

Libby Hansen, The Kansas City Star

 

“…and Ben Wager as Colline and were solidly effective, the latter singing his “ode to an overcoat” (“Vecchia zimarra”) with a mixture of gravity and savvily detached humor.”

Paul Horsley, The Independent

 

“…Ben Wager (whose admirably resonant and responsive bass made for a stand-out Colline)…”

Sarah Tyrrell, KCmetropolis.org

 

PORTopera – La bohème

Other strong performances included…Ben Wager, as a sympathetic Colline…”
Cornelia Iredell, Opera News

Washington Concert Opera – La Sonnambula

Ben Wager clearly had fun Sunday in his role as Count Rodolfo. […] Mr. Wager’s acting skills—even in concert opera—combined with excellent phrasing and diction and a steady vocal attack, lent to his character a nearly perfect balance graciousness, forthrightness, and frustration, burnishing the light, comic moments of this opera.”
Terry Ponick, The Washington Times

Minnesota Opera – Lucia di Lammermoor

Ben Wager, who was seen in another Gothic romance, “Wuthering Heights,” last season, is outstanding as Raimondo.”
Jay Furst, Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin

Oregon Symphony – Haydn’s “The Creation”

Soprano Elizabeth Keusch sang with bright, nimble coloratura and bass-baritone Ben Wager with power and majesty; they were especially effective together in rapturous duets as Adam and Eve in the final section.”
James McQuillen, The Oregonian

Bass-baritone Ben Wager declaimed the words of the archangel Raphael with plenty of gravitas.”
James Bash, Oregon Music News

Minnesota Opera – Wuthering Heights

And bass Ben Wager brings resonance and some welcome wild-eyed abandon to Cathy’s hard-drinking madman of a brother.”
Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press

Ben Wager was a fine, snarling Hindley (Cathy’s drunken brother)…”
Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal

Dallas Opera – Don Giovanni

Bass Ben Wager is lively as Masetto.”
Mike Silverman, The Canadian Press

Ben Wager as Masetto is macho in his role as Zerlina’s jealous fiancé. His forgiveness scene is both sexy and sweet.”
Marilee Vergati, Examiner.com

The reconciliation of Zerlina and Masetto (Ben Wager) is deliciously steamy in a manner seldom seen on the operatic stage.”
Wayne Lee Gay, D Magazine

Opera Cleveland – Les pêcheurs de perles

Ben Wager turns in a solid Nourabad.”
David Rosenberg, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

The Oregon Symphony – Rossini’s Stabat Mater

Bass Ban Wager was magisterial, with ringing baritone and resonant basso profundo.”
James McQuillen, The Oregonian

Academy of Vocal Arts – Lucia di Lammermoor

…the stagewise, mellow-toned bass gave a musically well-shaped, dramatically alert performance.”
David Shengold, Opera News

Academy of Vocal Arts – Anna Bolena

As Enrico (Henry) VIII, Ben Wager wasn’t particularly suited vocally to this kind of opera, but he’s a hugely compelling vocal and theatrical presence, particularly in the way his staging was framed by the V-shaped set design.”
David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer

As Enrico (Henry) VIII, Havertown native Ben Wager showed off a handsomely unctuous bass…”
Peter Burwasser, The Philadelphia City Paper

Ben Wager dominates the stage as a youthful and charismatic Enrico.”
Robert Baxter, ConcertoNet.com

Chicago Opera Theater – Don Giovanni

Isabel Leonard’s fresh and sparkling Zerlina was complimented by the handsome, sonorous Masetto of Ben Wager. Both are terrific.”
John von Rhein, The Chicago Tribune

…and her Masetto, Ben Wager, seems on an upward trajectory.”
Andrew Patner, The Chicago Sun Times

Opera New Jersey – Rigoletto

Ben Wager, too youthful and gym-toned a Monterone to merit being called “Vecchio” by Rigoletto, nonetheless proved striking in this often undercast part, with a strong, wide- ranging instrument and commanding presence.”
David Shengold, Opera News Online

Academy of Vocal Arts – Cosí fan tutte

AVA’s stellar cast was led by bass Ben Wager as Don Alfonso…Wager sang with lustrous power and gave a portrayal brimming over with wicked glee.”
Michael Caruso, The Chestnut Hill Local

Academy of Vocal Arts – Rossini’s Stabat Mater

Two of the singers Saturday evening were the focus of particular attention. Bass Ben Wager, a longtime resident of nearby Havertown, wasn’t originally scheduled to sing the aria, “Pro peccatis suae gentis” (For the sins of His people), from Rossini’s “Stabat Mater” (The Mournful Mother), but he did — and did so beautifully. He employed his incredibly dark timbre to dramatically delineate the pain suffered by the Blessed Virgin Mary as she watched her Son dying on the cross.”
Michael Caruso, The News of Delaware County

Academy of Vocal Arts – Der Freischütz

…Ben Wager, as the satanic agent Kaspar, had the vocal goods and the histrionic fearlessness to show what Der Freischütz can be.”
David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer

he best overall performance came from bass-baritone Ben Wager, totally confident vocally and theatrically as the villainous Kaspar.”
David Shengold, The Philadelphia City Paper

But the two who brought their characters to life were bass Ben Wager, as Kaspar, the bad guy, and Evelyn Pollock as Agathe’s perky cousin, Annchen.”
Dick Saunders, The Main Line Times

Bass Ben Wager portrayed Kaspar with theatrical immediacy and vocal maturity. His acting within the confines of a concert performance caught Kaspar’s wicked desperation while his singing spanned the gamut of emotions through a broad range and deep reservoir of colors and dynamics. His German diction was the finest of the evening.”
Michael Caruso, The News of Delaware County

Academy of Vocal Arts – Il barbiere di Siviglia

Wager’s Basilio was the most complete and accomplished characterization, and though from nearby Havertown, his vocal quality is unmistakably Slavic.”
David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer

COMPOSER ROLE OPERA
Ades Bass roles Powder Her Face
Bellini Rodolfo La Sonnambula
Bizet Escamillo Carmen
Bizet Nourabad Les pêcheurs de perles
Britten Claggart, Lt. Ratcliff, Mr. Flint Billy Budd
Britten Collatinus The Rape of Lucretia
Donizetti Enrico Anna Bolena
Donizetti Raimondo Lucia di Lammermoor
Dove Bass roles The Adventures of Pinocchio
Giordano Roucher Andrea Chenier
Gounod Mephistopheles Faust
Mozart Don Alfonso Così fan tutte
Mozart Sprecher Die Zauberflöte
Mozart Don Giovanni Don Giovanni
Mozart Figaro Le nozze di Figaro
Puccini Colline La bohème
Puccini Angelotti Tosca
Rossini Basilio Il barbiere di Siviglia
Rossini Alidoro La Cenerentola
Rossini Mustafa, Taddeo L’Italiana in Algeri
Tchaikovsky Gremin, Zaretsky Eugene Onegin
Verdi Ferrando Il trovatore
Verdi Padre Guardiano La forza del destino
Verdi Banco Macbeth
Verdi Lodovico Otello
Verdi Sparafucile, Monterone Rigoletto
Weber Kaspar Der Freischütz

 

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  • Ben Wager - headshotsphoto © Jacques-Jean Tiziou / www.jjtiziou.net