Called “a voice for this historic moment” (Washington Post), GRAMMY-winning baritone Will Liverman is the recipient of the 2022 Beverly Sills Artist Award by The Metropolitan Opera. He opened the Met’s 2021-22 season in a celebrated “breakout performance” (New York Times) as Charles in Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones, which received the 2023 Grammy for 'Best Opera Recording.' Following Fire’s success, the Met announced that Liverman will star in Anthony Davis’ X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, which will be the third opera by a Black composer in the company’s history, premiering in the fall of 2023.
Following performances at Tanglewood and Aspen Music Festival, Liverman’s 2022-23 season opens at the Kennedy Center’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, where he plays the Celebrant in Bernstein’s Mass. Next, the European premiere of Jeanine Tesori’s Blue takes Liverman to Dutch National Opera, where he makes his house debut as the Reverend in the Music Critics Association’s 2020 pick for “Best New Opera.”
Liverman’s new opera, The Factotum, which he stars in and composed with DJ/recording artist K. Rico, premieres at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in February 2023. Previously workshopped at the Ryan Opera Center in winter 2020, The Factotum blends classical singing with diverse musical styles, moving from hip-hop, R&B, funk, and gospel to traditional barbershop quartet to create a soul opera. Inspired by Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, the piece takes place in a present-day Black barbershop on Chicago’s South Side and celebrates the strength of community and power of the human spirit.
Other 22-23 season engagements include performances of the title role in Pelléas et Mélisande at LA Opera and Zurga in Les pêcheurs de perles at Austin Opera; appearances with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall and Portland Opera; and solo recital performances at London’s Wigmore Hall.
In addition to opening the Met’s 21-22 season with Fire Shut Up in My Bones, Liverman revisited the role of Charles at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in a “rich leading performance” (Chicago Tribune) described as a “beautifully vocalized … gripping portrayal” (Opera News). Further highlights from last season include reprisals of his roles in Akhnaten (Horemhab) and The Magic Flute (Papageno) at the Met Opera; Steward (Jonathan Dove’s Flight) at Dallas Opera; and performances with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Aspen Music Festival, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Park Avenue Armory, and Chicago Sinfonietta.
In February 2021, Cedille Records released Liverman’s Dreams of a New Day: Songs by Black Composers with pianist Paul Sanchez – a collection of works by Damien Sneed, Henry Burleigh, H. Leslie Adams, Robert Owens, Margaret Bonds, and Thomas Kerr, plus a world premiere recording by Shawn E. Okpebholo and Liverman’s arrangement of Richard Fariña’s Birmingham Sunday. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Traditional Classical chart, and The New Yorker praised its “clarity, sensitivity, and barely contained heartbreak,” while NPR declared “velvet-voiced baritone Will Liverman is out to make the classical music canon more inclusive.” Dreams of a New Day was nominated for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album at the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards. His 2020 album, Whither Must I Wander, with pianist Jonathan King, released on Odradek Records, was named one of the Chicago Tribune’s “best classical recordings of 2020” and BBC Music Magazine praised Liverman’s “firm, oaky baritone with a sharp interpretive attitude… admirable poise and clarity of intention.”
In 2019, Liverman made history as the first-ever Black Papageno in The Metropolitan Opera’s production of The Magic Flute. Other notable past performances include Malcolm Fleet in Nico Muhly’s Marnie at the Met Opera; Pantalone in The Love of Three Oranges at Opera Philadelphia; Silvio in Pagliacci at Opera Colorado; Schaunard in La bohème with the Santa Fe and Dallas Operas, and Opera Philadelphia; and The Pilot in The Little Prince with Tulsa Opera. Additionally, Liverman has performed the leading role of Figaro in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia with the Seattle, Virginia, Kentucky, Madison, and Utah Operas. He originated the role of Dizzy Gillespie in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird with Opera Philadelphia, in addition to performing the role with English National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Madison Opera, and the Apollo Theater. Other highlights include the role of Tommy McIntyre in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Fellow Travelers for its Lyric Unlimited initiative; Papageno in The Magic Flute with the Florentine and Central City Operas; his role debut as Marcello in La bohème with Portland Opera; his debut with Seattle Opera as Raimbaud in Le Comte Ory; Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucretia and Beaumarchais in The Ghosts of Versailles with Wolf Trap Opera; Andrew Hanley in the world premiere of Kevin Puts’ The Manchurian Candidate with Minnesota Opera; Sam in The Pirates of Penzance with Atlanta Opera; the Foreman at the Mill in Jenůfa; and the Protestant Minister in Menotti’s The Last Savage with Santa Fe Opera.
Expanding into the concert repertoire, Liverman performed the title role in a concert version of the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and was a featured soloist in Brahms’ Requiem with the Las Vegas Philharmonic, Handel’s Messiah with the Seattle Symphony, Carmina Burana with Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and Mozart’s Mass in C Minor with Civic Orchestra of Chicago. He was also featured in concert at Carnegie Hall, in addition to appearing in Schubert’s Die Winterreise at The Barns at Wolf Trap Opera.
Awards and achievements include receiving a 2022 Sphinx MPower Artist Grant, the 2020 Marian Anderson Vocal Award, a 2019 Richard Tucker Career Grant, and a 2019 Sphinx Medal of Excellence. In 2017 he received a 3Arts Award, a George London Award, and was recognized as a classical division Luminarts Fellow by the Luminarts Cultural Foundation. In 2015, he won the Stella Maris International Vocal Competition, the Gerda Lissner Charitable Fund Award, and a top prize from Opera Index.
Liverman concluded his tenure at the prestigious Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2015 and was previously a Young Artist at the Glimmerglass Festival. He holds his Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School and a Bachelor of Music degree from Wheaton College in Illinois.