Praised in Opera News as “a gentle actor and elegant musician” and The Wall Street Journal for his “mellifluous baritone”, Justin Austin has been performing professionally since age 4. Born in Stuttgart, Germany to professional opera singer parents, Austin began his singing career as a boy soprano performing at venues such as Teatro Real, Bregenzer Festspiele, Lincoln Center, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts . While working with directors such as Götz Friedrich and Tazewell Thompson, Austin was able to realize his love for music and performance early on.
For the 2020/21 season Austin was scheduled to create the leading role of George in the world premiere of the Lincoln Center Theater and The Metropolitan Opera co-commissioned opera Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage and Ricky Ian Gordon directed by Bartlett Sher. Rescheduled performances are to be announced. Canceled due to COVID- 19 was Austin’s return to The Metropolitan Opera making his house debut in the Met’s new production of Jake Haggie’s Dead Man Walking directed by Ivo van Hove and conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Austin was also scheduled to join the Met debuting the role of Novice’s Friend in John Dexter’s classic production of Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd conducted by Simone Young. Austin debuted with the Moab Music Festival as a resident artist and makes his return to the New York Festival of Song for a virtual concert series. Austin stars as Captain Macheath in a film adaptation of The Threepenny Opera by Kurt Weill & Bertolt Brecht produced by City Lyric Opera. Austin makes solo recital debuts with LA Opera, Lakes Area Music Festival, and Opera Saratoga. Austin also joins IDAGIO for online concerts at the Global Concert Hall.
For the 2019/20 season Austin was scheduled to return to Bayerische Staatsoper for his role debut as Mel in Michael Tippett’s The Knot Garden and as Bello in the revival of Andreas Dresen’s production of Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West. Austin made his return to New York Festival of Song at the Kaufmann Music Center . Austin joined the Metropolitan Opera principal roster for their new production of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, directed by James Robinson. Austin also sang the leading role of Older Jim in Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied at the Penn Square Music Festival.
For the 2018/19 season Austin made solo debuts with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Copland House, Bayerische Staatsoper, Opera Saratoga, and made his return to Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and New York Festival of Song. Mr. Austin spent Summer 2018 as a Solo Artist at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis featured in concert, recital, and on the mainstage singing the role of Cal in the award winning production of Marc Blitzstein’s Regina, directed by James Robinson and conducted by maestro Stephen Lord. Austin was recently featured as a solo artist on the commercial recording of Opera Theatre of St. Louis’ Shalimar the Clown and Damien Sneed’s The Three Sides of Damien Sneed and We Shall Overcome. After receiving a Master’s degree in Music in 2017 Austin spent the 2017/18 season with Opera Theatre of St. Louis as a Resident Artist and made solo debuts with Carnegie Hall , Kampnagel, Master Voices, the Glimmerglass Festival, and the Strathmore Music Center. Austin also made his return to New York Festival of Song, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the Kaufman Music Center. As a master’s degree candidate at the Manhattan School of Music, Austin made debuts in the 2016/17 season at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts as a “Schwab Vocal Rising Star”, New York Festival Of Song in their “Emerging Artist Series”, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis as a “Richard Gaddes Festival Artist”, and the Heidelberger Früling International Music Festival . Mr. Austin was honored by the historic National Association of Negro Musicians Inc. and named the National Winner of their prestigious Vocal Performance Scholarship. Summer 2016, Mr. Austin created the role of Pyarelal Kaul in the critically acclaimed world premiere of the opera Shalimar The Clown by Jack Perla and Rajiv Joseph at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. While a bachelor’s degree candidate at the Manhattan School of Music , Austin made his professional debut as a baritone with Landestheater Linz as Jake in Gerwhin’s Porgy and Bess. He reprised this role at Grand Théâtre de Genève during the 2015/16 season as well as created the role of The Chief in the film adaptation of Odeline Martinez’s Imoinda, directed by Hope Clark and produced by the National Opera Center of America. Mr. Austin was featured at the Manhattan School of Music performing the roles of Sabari in Cavalli’s La Doriclea, Dr.Malatesta in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale and as a soloist in Haydn’s Die Schöpfung, Monteverdi’s Vespers, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem. Additionally Justin has performed the roles of Father in Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, Doctor Binswanger in Ricky Ian Gordon’s Ellen West, Harlequin in R. Strauss’ Ariade auf Naxos, Elviro in Handel’s Xerxes, Etienne in Victor Herbert’s Naughty Marietta, and as the baritone soloist in Schubert’s Mass No.2, Handel’s Messiah, Theodore Dubois’ Seven Last Words of Christ, Bach’s Matthäuspassion, and Wynton Marsalis’ All Rise.
As a multifaceted musician, Mr. Austin performs a wide range of repertoire from Jazz, R&B, and Musical Theatre, to Opera and Oratorio. Justin has collaborated with multiple groups and artists such as Aretha Franklin, The Boys Choir of Harlem, Mary J. Blidge, Elton John, Lauryn Hill, The Roots, 30 Seconds to Mars, John Cale, Ricky Ian Gordon, Damien Sneed, Kanye West, and jazz legends Reggie Workman, Hugh Masekela, and Wynton Marsalis.
Justin strongly believes in utilizing his artistry to benefit music programs, new music projects, and community services around the world. To do so, he works with organizations such as MEND (Meeting Emergency Needs with Dignity,) QSAC (Quality Services for the Autism Community,) Holt International, and St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital to construct and perform benefit concerts. The proceeds of these projects supply emergent living essentials to those in need. Inspired by the importance of new music and collaboration, Mr. Austin has performed and recorded operatic, song, and oratorio world premiers by Wynton Marsalis, Avner Finberg, M. Roger Holland, Jack Perla, Peter Andreacchi, Damien Sneed, Odeline de la Martinez, and Ricky Ian Gordon.
Austin has won awards from organizations such as The Recording Academy, NAACP, George London Foundation, Opera Ebony, Gerda Lissner Foundation, Manhattan School of Music, NANM, Choir Academy of Harlem, and Laguardia Arts.
Justin is a proud graduate of the Choir Academy of Harlem, Laguardia Arts, Heidelberg Lied Akademie, and Manhattan School of Music holding the Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees. Mr. Austin is under the tutelage and mentorship of Catherine Malfitano.