Hailing from Norfolk, Virginia, Grammy Award-winning tenor Frederick Ballentine is the 2021 recipient of the Kennedy Center’s Marian Anderson Award, and an alumnus of both the Cafritz Young Artists of Washington National Opera and the Los Angeles Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program. In the 2021-2022 season, he makes his role debut as the Drum Major in Wozzeck with Staatstheater Kassel, returns to the Metropolitan Opera to reprise the role of Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess, debuts the role of Nick in The Handmaid’s Tale at English National Opera, and joins Cincinnati Opera for the rescheduled premiere of Castor and Patience. He also appears in recital at The Kennedy Center in recognition of his Marian Anderson Award.
Mr. Ballentine’s scheduled engagements for the 2020-2021 season included his first performances of Rodolfo in La bohème with Opera Memphis (postponed) and Florentine Opera (postponed), Dr. Richardson in Breaking the Waves with Los Angeles Opera (cancelled), and Miles Zegner in Proving Up with Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Lyric Unlimited series (postponed). Originally slated to sing Don José in Houston Grand Opera’s cancelled production of Carmen, he instead sang Herr Vogelsang in a digital production of Mozart’s The Impresario. He continued his work with Houston Grand Opera in recital with Lawrence Brownlee for their Giving Voice series, celebrating treasured Black artists, and appeared in a filmed recital from Seattle Opera’sTagney Jones Hall. During the summer, was slated to sing Judah in the world premiere of Castor and Patience with Cincinnati Opera (postponed).
Mr. Ballentine’s original engagements for the COVID-19 shortened 2019-2020 season featured his debut with the Metropolitan Opera as Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess (performed), and returns to Seattle Opera as Charlie Parker in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird (performed) and Los Angeles Opera as Monastatos in Die Zauberflöte (performed). He also planned a return to Washington National Opera as Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess (cancelled), Cincinnati Opera to create the role of Judah in the world premiere of Gregory Spears’ Castor and Patience (postponed), and made his debut in the title role of Les contes d’Hoffmann with Opera Louisiane (postponed). In concert, he made his debut with the New Jersey Symphony for Handel’s Messiah (performed).
The 2018-2019 season began with a series of debuts for the tenor, as Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess with both the English National Opera and De Nederlandse Opera. He also made a return to Cincinnati Opera later in the season in the same role. Additionally, he debuted the role of Don José in Carmen with Annapolis Opera and reprised the role with Seattle Opera, and sang in concert with Wolf Trap Opera’s Chamber Music at the Barn series. He closed the season by joining the Bard Music Festival for selections in concert from Kálmán’s Die Herzogin von Chicago.
During the 2017-2018 season, Mr. Ballentine returned to Washington National Opera as a member of the Cafritz Young Artists of Washington National Opera, where he performed the Messenger in Aida, the Herald in Don Carlo, and Cacambo in Candide. He also appeared with Cincinnati Opera as the Steersman in Der fliegende Höllander.
Recent engagements include Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess in a return to Glimmerglass Opera, the 1st Armored Man in The Magic Flute with Seattle Opera, Reverend Parris in Robert Ward’s The Crucible at the Glimmerglass Festival under the direction of Francesca Zambello, as well as a return to Los Angeles Opera to sing Amon in Akhnaten. In 2015 he was a Filene Young Artist with Wolf Trap Opera, where he sang Count Almaviva in The Ghosts of Versailles. He has also trained with the Aspen Music Opera Center and The Opera Theatre of St. Louis, who recently awarded him the Thelma Steward Endowed Artist Alumni Award.
Mr. Ballentine has performed with the Los Angeles Opera on multiple occasions as a former Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist. His most notable performances were in Barrie Kosky’s wildly popular production of The Magic Flute. He is featured on the company’s recently produced CD of The Ghosts of Versailles, as well as on My Christmas, Placido Domingo’s newest Christmas album. Most recently, Mr. Ballentine has had the pleasure of returning to Los Angeles Opera to sing the role of Amon in Philip Glass’s Akhnaten.
In concert, Mr. Ballentine has appeared as a featured soloist with the New York Choral Society for their Christmas Concert, with Naples Philharmonic and the Colburn School for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic for Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and Arvo Pärt’s Miserere, and the Simon Bolivar Orchestra of Venezuela as Pang in Turandot.
Porgy & Bess – English National Opera
Sportin’ Life’s numbers are highlights thanks to a sparky UK debut from Frederick Ballentine.”
Erica Jeal, The Guardian
Champion – Washington National Opera
Frederick Ballentine as old Emile’s caretaker proved moving with his growing conflicting feeligns of frustration and gentle loving.”
Susan Galbraith, DC Theatre Scene
“Tenor Frederick Ballentine as Luis Griffith was well-cast and naturally compelling.”
David Friscic, DC Metro Theater Arts
“Tenor Frederick Ballentine sings beautifully and is exceptional as Luis Griffith, the elderly Emile’s caregiver.”
Kate Wingfield, Metro Weekly
20 Minute Operas – Washington National Opera
But, as the enigmatic, willing to please, but still-learning Adam, Frederick Ballentine excelled the mark in his deeply complex role, as he interpreted a still evolving character attempting to sort out the conflict between his full-blown military prowess and his still child-like human antecedent as his developing personality tries to sort out what it all means.”
Terry Ponick, Communities Digital News
The Crucible – Glimmerglass Festival Opera
Tenors Frederick Ballentine and Ian Koziara sang their respective roles as the overly-concerned-with-his-social-position clergyman Samuel Parris and the odious bailiff Ezekiel Cheever with verve and vastly distinct vocal character, one’s pinging and intense, the other’s as slippery as Judge Danforth’s.”
Richard Carter, Blasting News
Justice at the Opera with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – Washington National Opera
Not that levity was always appropriate. Frederick Ballentine, a promising tenor, had especially heavy lifting with “E lucevan le stele” from “Tosca,” the Seguidilla scene from “Carmen” and a painful aria from Philip Glass’s “Appomattox,” the opera presented here so successfully in 2015, recounting the Ku Klux Klan’s slaughter of a hundred black militiamen. (Ginsburg introduced this segment by outlining her dissent in the 2013 decision revising the Voting Rights Act.) Ballentine’s voice is still growing toward the final measure of heroic “ping” for the Puccini, but he had every bit of the dramatic and musical heft to bring across the biting scene from Glass’s work, which held up very well against the other excerpts.”
Anne Midgette, The Washington Post
Appomattox – Washington National Opera
Frederick Ballentine also stands out with two wonderful stirring portraits of activists. As T. Morris Chester, Freeman and Philadelphia African American journalist in the 1860’s, and then the civil rights leader John Lewis, he was able to show the arc throughout history of the seething drive to overcome the inequities and the lack of retribution for murders of his people that sadly continues.”
Susan Galbraith, DC Theatre Scene
“Ballentine sang some of the most painful arias in the opera: a description of the murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson, a civil rights activist, in Act II, and an account of the Colfax massacre of 1873, in which dozens of black men were slaughtered in cold blood.”
Anne Midgette, The Washington Post
“Frederick Ballentine wielded his vibrant tenor expressively as black Civil War correspondent T. Morris Chester and made a strong impression, too, as Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee chairman John Lewis.”
Tim Smith, Opera News