Martin Bakari, Opera

Praised by Opera News as a “vocally charismatic” performer with a “golden tenor”, Martin Bakari continues to distinguish himself as a dynamic artist in a wide array of musical and theatrical genres. A 2018 George London Competition award winner, Mr. Bakari’s 2022-23 season included Charlie Parker in Charlie Parker's Yardbird (New Orleans Opera and Dayton Opera), Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance (Virginia Opera), the tenor soloist in the premiere of Paul Moravec’s A Nation of Others (Oratorio Society of NY – Carnegie Hall), Messiah (Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra), Pong in Turandot (Opera Colorado), Jalil/Wakil/Guard in the premiere of Sheila Silver’s A Thousand Splendid Suns (Seattle Opera), Carmina Burana (Symphony San Jose), a concert of arias and songs (Harlem Chamber Players), and recitals of Paul Laurence Dunbar songs (Seattle Opera) and German Lieder (Sound Salon – Seattle). In the 2023-24 season, Mr. Bakari sings Mime in Das Rheingold (Seattle Opera), Messiah (Oratorio Society of NY – Carnegie Hall), Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance (Kentucky Opera), Charlie Parker in Yardbird (Indianapolis Opera), Goro in Madama Butterfly (Opera Philadelphia), the tenor soloist in Kodály’s Psalmus Hungaricus (Grant Park Music Festival), Tybalt in Roméo et Juliette (Vashon Opera), Sellem in The Rake’s Progress (Lakes Area Music Festival), and both Dr. Caius in Falstaff and Wilson (cover) in the premiere of Jake Heggie’s Intelligence (Houston Grand Opera). Mr. Bakari’s 2024-25 season includes Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia (Indianapolis Opera), Greene Evans in the premiere of Jubilee (Seattle Opera), Goro in Madama Butterfly (Utah Opera), Gastone in La traviata (Seiji Ozawa Music Festival – Japan), Messiah (Boise Philharmonic and Calvin Oratorio Society), and a recital with Brooklyn Art Song Society.

Other recent engagements include Charlie Parker in Yardbird (Pittsburgh Opera, Atlanta Opera, Arizona Opera), Carmina Burana (Cecilia Chorus of NY – Carnegie Hall), Prince Claus in Mark Adamo’s Becoming Santa Claus (Chicago Opera Theater), Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville (Intermountain Opera Bozeman), Goro in Madama Butterfly (Dallas Opera), a United Kingdom recital tour (Mirror Visions Ensemble), Don Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro (Seattle Opera and Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival), The Cartography Project (The Kennedy Center/Washington National Opera), Ferrando in Cosí fan tutte (Syracuse Opera), Triquet in Eugene Onegin (Seattle Opera), Mingo in Porgy & Bess (Atlanta Opera), Peter the Honeyman in Porgy & Bess (Seattle Opera and Fort Worth Opera), Tamino in The Magic Flute (Opéra Louisiane), Beppe in Pagliacci (Raylynmor Opera), Philip Glass’ In the Penal Colony and a double bill of David Lang’s The Difficulty of Crossing a Field and The Little Match Girl Passion (Portland Opera), La traviata and Le nozze di Figaro (Cincinnati Opera), The Summer King (Pittsburgh Opera and Michigan Opera Theatre), Murasaki’s Moon and Morning Star (On Site Opera), The Long Walk (Utah Opera and Pittsburgh Opera), The Source (LA Opera/Beth Morrison Projects), and Ellen Reid’s dreams of the new world (PROTOTYPE Festival/Trinity Wall Street). Mr. Bakari also premiered and recorded Grigory Smirnov's song cycle Dowson Songs (Naxos) which was featured by Opera News as a “Critic's Choice” recording.

Since 2016, Mr. Bakari has joined NY Harlem Productions for tours of Porgy & Bess as both Sportin' Life and Mingo, which have marked his German debuts at Semperoper Dresden, Staatsoper Hamburg, Deutsches Theater München, Alte Oper Frankfurt, and the Kölner Philharmonie, his Israeli debuts in Haifa and Tel Aviv, and his Italian debut at Bari's Teatro Petruzzelli.

As an Emerging Artist at Virginia Opera from 2014 to 2016, Mr. Bakari sang in productions of HMS Pinafore, Salome, Orpheus in the Underworld, La bohème, Roméo et Juliette, and Der fliegende Holländer. Other 2016 performances included Roméo et Juliette (Opera Carolina), Carmina Burana (New Hampshire Philharmonic), and Le nozze di Figaro, Daniel Catán's Il postino, and Philip Glass' The Witches of Venice (Opera Saratoga).

Other notable new music credits include the leading tenor roles of Wissam in Tobin Stokes' Fallujah (The Kennedy Center), Hazel Motes in the premiere of Anthony Gatto's Wise Blood (Walker Art Center/New Focus Recordings), Marcellus in James Dashow’s Archimedes (Neuma Records), and Lorenzo in William Bolcom's Lucrezia, Grivet in Tobias Picker's Thérèse Raquin, Katz in Stephen Paulus' The Postman Always Rings Twice, and a national tour of Wynton Marsalis' Abyssinian Mass (Blue Engine Records/Sony).

Chosen by James Levine to sing in a Tanglewood production of Ariadne auf Naxos, Mr. Bakari spent two summers as a Tanglewood Fellow during which he also sang John Harbison's Full Moon in March and Milhaud's L'Enlèvement d'Europe and L'Abandon d'Ariane directed by Mark Morris. Of his performance in Full Moon in March, The New York Times wrote, “Bakari mastered completely the high-tension and occasionally melodic vocal writing”.

In addition to the George London Competition, Mr. Bakari has received major awards from the Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition, Orpheus Vocal Competition, Tanglewood, the Juilliard School, and Boston University. He has since been engaged by Palm Beach Opera and has also appeared with Madison Opera, Opera North, Eugene Opera, Opera Ebony, Little Opera Theatre of NY, and Pine Mountain Music Festival.

Mr. Bakari is an alumnus of the master's degree program at Juilliard, the B.M. and Opera Institute programs at Boston University, and the study-abroad program at London's Royal College of Music. In addition to the numerous opera and musical theatre roles he performed while in Boston, he was an active concert soloist with performances including Elijah (Symphony Hall) and a solo concert of Italian arias (Salem Philharmonic Orchestra). A Filipino-African American, Mr. Bakari is featured as the cover story of FilAm Magazine’s June 2022 issue.


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