Possessing a voice that the New York Times calls “heart-stirring” as well as a “charismatic” and “powerful” stage presence, American baritone Kelly Markgraf is rapidly distinguishing himself on the opera and concert stages.
Kelly Markgraf’s 2014-2015 calendar begins with the world premiere of As One with American Opera Projects at Brooklyn Academy of Music and The Kennedy Center. He also debuts the role of Don Pizzaro in Fidelio with Madison Opera, and essays the role of Heathcliff in Carlisle Floyd’s Wuthering Heights in concert with Florentine Opera, which will be recorded and released. He returns to Florentine later in the season as Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, and makes his debut with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in a concert of love songs. Future seasons include a debut with Opéra de Lausanne.
The baritone’s 2013-2014 season brought a debut with Austin Lyric Opera as Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, concert performances of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with Donato Cabrera and the Green Bay Symphony as well as Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with Kent Tritle and the Oratorio Society of NY at Carnegie Hall. He was also the featured vocalist on a chamber music program of Barber, Schubert, and Rorem with Frank Almond’s Frankly Music. Additionally, he returned to the San Francisco Symphony for its traditional New Year’s Eve Concert, under the baton of Michael Francis, in a program of Viennese operetta and popular showstoppers.
Highlights of his 2012-2013 season include appearances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, for Le rossignol and L’enfant et les sortilèges under Charles Dutoit; the Los Angeles Philharmonic, for Bach’s O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel;Madison Opera, for the title role in Don Giovanni; a recital with the Marilyn Horne Foundation at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, and an art song program, “Love Songs”, with the The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Kelly Markgraf debuts with the San Francisco Symphony in summer 2013, as Bernardo in performances of West Side Story, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. He subsequently returns to Aspen Music Festival, as Ned Keene in a semi-staged performance ofPeter Grimes, conducted by Robert Spano.
In the 2011-2012 season he took the stage as Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro with Kentucky Opera, made his role debut as Malatesta in Don Pasquale at Hawaii Opera in Honolulu, and sang his first Papageno in Die Zauberflöte with Apollo’s Fire Baroque Orchestra. In concert, he joined the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra for Ned Rorem’s Aftermath. His 2012 summer season brought appearances with the New York Philharmonic for concerts with Music Director Alan Gilbert, the Oklahoma Mozart Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, and the Music@Menlo Festival with acclaimed pianist Gilbert Kalish.
His 2010-2011 season included the US Premiere of Shostakovich’s War Front Songs at Symphony Space, Escamillo opposite mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke with Brazos Valley Symphony, the title role in Don Giovanni with Opera Omaha, Allazim in Mozart’s Zaide at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall with Maestro David Robertson, and the role of Zebul in Handel’s Jephtha with Kent Tritle for Sacred Music in a Sacred Space. He also appeared in a leading role in a workshop of Michael Torke’s opera Senna as part of the Metropolitan Opera/Lincoln Center Theater Opera/Theater Commissions Program, sang Mahler and Brahms at the Caramoor International Music Festival, and Schumann Lieder at the Music@Menlo Festival with internationally renowned pianist Wu Han.
In the 2009-2010 season, Mr. Markgraf made his New York City Opera debut as Masetto in Christopher Alden’s new production of Don Giovanni, followed by Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro with Opera Omaha and the Crested Butte Music Festival. He also made his role debut as Escamillo alongside Kate Aldrich as Carmen with Pittsburgh Opera. In concert, he appeared as the baritone soloist in Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, Paul Moravec’s Songs of Love and War with Princeton Pro Musica, followed by Schumann’s Dichterliebe at the La Jolla Music Festival with pianist Ken Noda. In recital, he appeared at Carnegie Hall as part of the Marilyn Horne Foundation’s The Song Continues series.
Kelly Markgraf is a distinguished graduate of the Juilliard Opera Center, where his work included Mamoud in a staged concert of John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer, conducted by the composer, Ken Noda’s Winterreise project, and Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff in a production directed by Stephen Wadsworth and conducted by Keri-Lynn Wilson. In fall 2008, he participated in the knockout West Side Story portion of the all-Bernstein program, which opened Carnegie Hall’s season and was nationally televised under Michael Tilson Thomas. Mr. Markgraf also made his Pittsburgh Opera debut as Ragged Man in Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Grapes of Wrath, a role he created at Minnesota Opera in 2007.
Mr. Markgraf is a former member of the Resident Artist Program at Minnesota Opera, where he sang Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette, Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, Frédéric in Lakmé, Dappertutto and Coppélius in Les contes d’Hoffmann, as well as Ragged Man in the world premiere of The Grapes of Wrath. At Opera Theatre of St. Louis, he performed Dick McGann in James Robinson’s production of Street Scene, of which the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote: “Kelly Markgraf was terrific as Dick McGann: dancing up a storm, singing as well as he danced, and projecting palpable, hilarious lust.” As an apprentice at the Santa Fe Opera, he sang the role of the Bosun in Paul Curran’s production of Billy Budd, under the baton of Edo de Waart.
The artist’s honors include a First Prize Award from the Gerda Lissner Foundation Competition (2010), the Sullivan Foundation’s Sullivan Award (2009), the Grand Prize in the Opera Index Competition (2009), awards from the Giulio Gari Foundation and the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation (2009), a Richard F. Gold Career Grant (2009), an Outstanding Apprentice Award from the Santa Fe Opera, a Richard Tucker Foundation Career Grant Nomination, the Civic Music Association Competition Grand Prize, and an Encouragement Award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. A native of Wisconsin, Mr. Markgraf holds degrees from Boston University, the University of Cincinnati – College Conservatory of Music, and The Juilliard School.
Florentine Opera – Wuthering Heights
Markgraf sang with great power and presence, while creating a dark, brooding Heathcliff.”
Elaine Schmidt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
As Heathcliff, Kelly Markgraf cut quite a figure and would have been great in a staged production. His authoritative baritone resounded powerfully at all times.”
Madison Opera – Fidelio
Markgraf is already a local favorite in roles of the villains we love to hate, and has an imposing physical presence to match his dark and stirring vocalism.”
Greg Hettmansberger, Madison Magazine
Austin Lyric Opera – L’elisir d’amore
Markgraf is sensationally funny as Sergeant Belcore. His booming baritone voice will give you goosebumps, but the physicality of his performance is even more memorable. Tall and handsome, Markgraf has the look of a soldier who is not only cocky enough to propose to Adina upon their first meeting but arrogant enough to expect an immediate answer.
Jeff Davis, Broadwayworld.com
San Francisco Symphony – West Side Story
…Kelly Markgraf’s Bernardo blazed with intensity.
Erica Miner, Broadwayworld.com
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center – “Love Songs”
The rich-voiced baritone Kelly Markgraf, ably accompanied by Ms. Wu, offered a characterful rendition of the ‘Liederbuch des Hafis,’ by Viktor Ullmann…Mr. Markgraf offered vocally and physically compelling interpretations of the four songs, including the sardonic ‘Vorausbestimmung’ (‘Predetermination’) and ‘Betrunen’ (‘Drunk’).”
Viven Schweitzer, The New York Times
Weill Music Institute of Carnegie Hall – Marilyn Horne’s “The Song Continues” Recital
Kelly Markgraf brought his round, erotically charged baritone to five songs by Charles Martin Loeffler…”
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times
Chamber Music Northwest – Dover Beach
Baritone Kelly Markgraf collaborated with the Orion String Quartet to give a superb performance of Barber’s ‘Dover Beach’ (which is based on Matthew Arnold’s famous poem). Markgraf struck just the right amount of sentiment to give this piece enough heft yet not sink under the weight of the text and the dark colors of the music.”
James Bash, Oregon Music News
Apollo’s Fire Baroque Orchestra – Die Zauberflöte
Kelly Markgraf was an endearing nervous wreck as Papageno, the bird catcher, and he used his focused baritone to splendid effect.”
Donald Rosenberg, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
Hawaii Opera Theatre – Don Pasquale
Markgraf, in his HOT debut, ruled the production, his powerful, spot-on baritone commanding both the music and action.”
Ruth O. Bingham, Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Zankel Hall – Zaida
The baritone Kelly Markgraf was a robust and earnest Allazim.”
Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times
La Jolla Music Festival – Dichterliebe
Dichterliebe baritone Kelly Markgraf and pianist Ken Noda offered a carefully calibrated rendering…Markgraf’s rich, assertive voice seemed to grow in warmth and flexibility as the cycle went on…”
James Chute, San Diego Union Tribune
Opera Omaha – Le nozze di Figaro
…Kelly Markgraf, as the Count, sang with a voice that was so beautiful and burnished that you almost forgot his character’s vengeful, prideful nature.”
John Pitcher, Omaha World Herald
Juilliard Opera Center – Falstaff
…Kelly Markgraf was a powerful, imposing Ford.”
Steve Smith, The New York Times
Juilliard Opera Center – The Death of Klinghoffer
…Markgraf was magnificent in his pivotal scene with the Captain, in which Mamoud sings alluringly…”
Joshua Rosenblum, Opera News
…especially the charismatic baritone Kelly Markgraf as Mamoud…”
Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times
Minnesota Opera – Roméo et Juliette
Among the comprimario roles, Markgraf’s nimble Mercutio was the standout: in the quicksilver “Queen Mab” ballad, Markgraf did full justice to the text while executing director David Lefkowich’s demanding choreography.”
Kelly Markgraf’s nimble Mercutio is especially strong; his ‘Queen Mab’ ballad is three minutes of magic.
Minneapolis Star Tribune
|Bizet||Zurga||Les pêcheurs de perles|
|Britten||Billy Budd||Billy Budd|
|Donizetti||Enrico||Lucia di Lammermoor|
|Gordon||Tom Joad||Grapes of Wrath|
|Gounod||Mercutio||Roméo et Juliette|
|Mozart||Guglielmo||Così fan tutte|
|Mozart||Don Giovanni, Masetto||Don Giovanni|
|Mozart||Conte Almaviva||Le nozze di Figaro|
|Puccini||Marcello, Schaunard||La bohème|
|J. Strauss||Falke||Die Fledermaus|
|Tchaikovsky||Eugene Onegin||Eugene Onegin|
|Adams||The Wound Dresser|
|Bach||B Minor Mass|
|Bach||St. John Passion|
|Bach||St. Matthew Passion|
|Brahms||Ein Deutsches Requiem|
|Haydn||Lord Nelson Mass|
|Bridge||3 Songs with Viola|
|Mahler||Des Knaben Wunderhorn (various)|
|Montsalvage||Cinco canciones negras|
|Musto||Shadow of the Blues|
|Ravel||Don Quichotte à Dulcinée|
|Vaughan Williams||Songs of Travel|