Born: 1950 (United States)
Jan Opalach, bass- baritone, a highly acclaimed and distinguished artist, has been recognized with numerous prestigious awards and accolades. Notably, he received the Marcella Sembrich Award from the Kosciuszko Foundation, the 1980 Walter W. Naumburg Vocal Award, the Metropolitan Opera National Auditions, and the s'Hertogenbosch International Vocalisten Concours. He was also a recipient of the esteemed National Endowment for the Arts Soloist Recital Grant.
His captivating performances have graced renowned venues around the world. Some of these include Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Concert Hall (NY), Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Kosciuszko Foundation (NY), Music Mountain (CT), Miller Theater at Columbia University, Bruno Walter Auditorium, Morgan Library, Concertgebouw (Amsterdam, Netherlands), Edmonton Chamber Music Festival (Alberta, Canada), Library of Congress, Ambassador Auditorium (Pasadena), Cape and Islands Festival (MA), Hudson River Museum (NY), Rockport (MA) Chamber Music Festival, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston), as well as esteemed universities like Lehigh, Pennsylvania State, Brandeis, and Harvard. He has also been a regular presence at the NATS National Convention in Minneapolis, MN, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, with annual appearances at the Eastman School of Music, where he holds the position of tenured Associate Professor of Voice.
Jan Opalach's exceptional artistry extends to his involvement with various vocal ensembles. Notably, he was a member of the New York Vocal Arts Ensemble, a solo vocal quartet with piano that showcased little-known quartet repertoire during a three-concert series at NYC's Alice Tully Hall. Additionally, he contributed his vocal talents to the Waverly Consort, touring extensively throughout the United States and South America. The ensemble gained national attention through a CBS TV special filmed at the Cloisters Museum in New York City, and he can also be heard on their recording of "A Renaissance Christmas."
A significant portion of Mr. Opalach's career has been dedicated to performing the works of Johann Sebastian Bach. He was part of the renowned Bach Aria Group and was the original Bass soloist in Joshua Rifkin's Bach Ensemble, which recorded notable pieces such as the B-minor Mass (with one soloist on a part), Solo Bass Cantatas #56, #82, #158, and numerous other Bach cantatas. Collaborating with conductor Helmut Rilling, he graced audiences at the Oregon Bach Festival and the Hollywood Bowl (B-minor Mass), and also toured Germany with Mr. Rilling's Gaechinger Kantorei, performing Bach's St. John Passion in the role of Jesus.
Mr. Opalach's operatic repertoire is extensive, boasting over fifty roles performed during his illustrious career. He began his association with the New York City Opera in 1980, where he served as a principal artist for three decades. Some of the notable roles he undertook with the company include the title role in Le nozze di Figaro, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Dulcamara in L'elisir d'amore (directed by Jonathan Miller), Leporello in Don Giovanni, Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia (conducted by Sergiu Commissiona), and King Fisher in M. Tippett's The Midsummer Marriage (directed by Francesca Zambello). He also received acclaim for his performances in A. Zimmerman's Die Soldaten and G. Verdi's Falstaff (conducted by George Manahan and directed by Leon Major, respectively).
Jan Opalach's talent has reached a broader audience through various media outlets. He has been featured on PBS' "Live from Lincoln Center," performing with Dame Joan Sutherland in Anna Bolena under the baton of Richard Bonynge. Additionally, he participated in the Rossini Bicentennial Anniversary Gala conducted by Sir Roger Norrington and the New York City Ballet's 2004 Spring Gala, where he showcased the Liebeslieder Waltzer.
In addition to his operatic endeavors, Mr. Opalach has collaborated with numerous esteemed orchestras, including the Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, Mostly Mozart Festival, New York, Pittsburgh, Rochester Philharmonic, San Francisco, St. Louis, Seattle, and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. His artistry has been recognized by prominent conductors such as Marin Alsop, Mario Bernardi, Richard Bonynge, Semyon Bychkov, Sergiu Comissiona, James DePriest, Charles Dutoit, Alan Gilbert, Gunter Herbig, Christopher Hogwood, Lorin Maazel, Eduardo Mata, Kurt Masur, Sir Roger Norrington, Sir Simon Rattle, Helmut Rilling, Gerard Schwarz, Christopher Seaman, Robert Shaw, Leonard Slatkin, Edo de Waart, Richard Westenberg, Hugh Wolff, and David Zinman.
Mr. Opalach can be heard on the Albany, Argo, Avie, Bridge, CRI, Decca, Delos, EMI, Koch International, L’Oiseau-Lyre, Lyrichord, Naxos, Newport Classic, Nonesuch, Teldec, Telarc, Virgin Classics, VoxBox and Vox Unique labels.
Excerpt from The New York Times, February 24, 1982
Bass-Baritone: Jan Opalach
"Monday night in Alice Tully Hall, Jan Opalach showed us why he won the Naumburg Foundation's 1980 vocal competition. The young bass-baritone seems to have all the qualities necessary to a successful career - a healthy technique featuring delicate control even at the wispiest of pianissimos and then a communicative, flexible personality that moves confidently from mood to mood.
Mozart's ''Mentre ti lascio, o figlia'' may have opened the evening in a static, overly cautious way, but in the Schubert group that followed, Mr. Opalach's ability to soften and narrow the dimensions of his voice to fit ''Im Freien'' and ''Nahe des Geliebten'' made quiet magic out of both.
Indeed, Mr. Opalach succeeded almost everywhere he turned. Three songs by Rachmaninoff were affectingly morose; Wolf's ''Fussreise'' rollicked pleasantly; ''Verschwiegende Liebe'' dreamed its lovely dream; and finally, Poulenc's naughty little ''Chansons Gaillardes'' made us laugh out loud." Bernard Holland