Arizona Opera Cast Members & Creatives
A noted interpreter of Mozart and bel canto repertoire as well as many of today’s prominent composers, Opera News has recently hailed Keith Phares as a "mainstay of contemporary opera" and " an authentic contemporary-American-opera divo" with "an impressive gallery of finely-drawn character portraits.”
This season he workshops the role of Tom in Matthew Boehler's Fat Pig with Victory Hall Opera, and sings the roles of Daddy Lowell and Mr. Floyd in the premiere of Clint Borzoni's The Copper Queen, to be released on film and produced by Arizona Opera. Highlights from last season include Brahms' Requiem with the Bucks County Choral Society, Messiah with Toledo Symphony, a reprise of Elder Tull in Riders of the Purple Sage with Arizona Opera. Phares was slated to appear as Mountjoy in Gloriana with Arts Centre in Ottawa; however both engagements were cancelled due to COVID-19 safety protocols.
Recently he appeared as Edward Kynaston in Carlisle Floyd's Prince of Players with Florentine Opera (recorded live for Reference Records), Sam in Trouble in Tahiti with Lexington Philharmonic, the premiere of Paul Salerni's opera, The Haunted at Zoellner Arts Center, Carol of Words - a song recital with Lyric Fest featuring texts by Walt Whitman and a return to Opera Saratoga as Dr. Ludwig Binswanger in the premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon's Ellen West.
In the 2017/18 Season he made debuts with Los Angeles Opera as Roderick Usher and Hiram Otis in Gordon Getty's SCARE PAIR: Usher House/Canterville Ghost, Chicago Opera Theater as Gasparo in Donizetti's Rita, Opera Omaha as Ford in Falstaff, and Opera Maine as Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro. Other highlights from last season include Viva Opera! at Florentine and the recording of Gregory Spears' critically acclaimed Paul's Case as the Father, which he sang in the opera's premiere at UrbanArias and PROTOYPE festival remount.
In the 2016/17 Season he sang Hurstwood in the world premiere and live recording of Robert Aldridge's Sister Carrie with Florentine (released on Naxos in Sept '17), Escamillo in Carmen with Opera Santa Barbara, Maximilian in Candide with New York City Opera, Elder Tull in the world premiere of Craig Bohmler's Riders of the Purple Sage with Arizona Opera, Charlie in Three Decembers with Hawaii Opera Theatre, Albert in Werther with Manitoba Opera, the American premiere of Philip Glass and Christopher Hampton's The Trial with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Belcore in L'elisir d'Amore with Boston Midsummer Opera.
Other recent engagements have included Zurga in Les pêcheurs des perles with Seattle Opera, Gaylord Ravenal in Showboat with Kentucky Opera, Charlie in Three Decembers with Florentine Opera, Carmina Burana with Madison Symphony and Fort Wayne Philharmonic, John Sorel in The Consul and Orin Mannon in Mourning Becomes Electra with Florida Grand Opera, Marcello in La bohème with Seattle Opera and Manitoba Opera, Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro with New Orleans Opera and Opera Saratoga, Paul's Case with UrbanArias and the PROTOTYPE festival, Dandini in La cenerentola and the title role in Elmer Gantry with Tulsa Opera and Maximilian and the Captain in Candide with São Paulo Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Marin Alsop. In previous seasons, the baritone sang the title role in Der Kaiser von Atlantis in a joint production with Central City Opera and Colorado Symphony, Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro with Opera Colorado, returned to Washington National Opera as Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, joined Opera Hamilton as Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus, Portland Opera as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte and Central City Opera as Charlie in Jake Heggie's Three Decembers. His has also appeared as the baritone soloist with San Francisco Symphony, Virginia Symphony and Columbus Symphony for performances of Carmina Burana.
For his debut with Florentine Opera, he portrayed the title role in Elmer Gantry, prompting Opera News to write that “Keith Phares's scrupulously rendered Elmer Gantry appears a strong contender for iconographic recognition. Beautifully vocalized and bursting with charismatic smarm (think Burt Lancaster with buttery legato), Phares's achievement will prove a difficult act to follow.” A live recording of this performance is available from Naxos records. Alongside Grammy awards for Best Contemporary Classical Composition and Best Engineering - Classical, it was named Opera News' #1 Opera Recording of 2011.
During the 2008/09 Season Phares made his San Francisco Opera debut in the company’s première of Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers, singing opposite Frederica von Stade. His performance was praised for his “rich, accurate voice; good looks; and fine acting ability to the part of Charlie, making his performance the highlight of the production.” (San Francisco Classical Voice) Additional house debuts that season included the Opera Company of Philadelphia where he played the role of Haly in L’italiana in Algeri and Glimmerglass Opera where he played Dandini in a new production of La Cenerentola. In addition, he sang Falke in Opera New Jersey’s presentation of Die Fledermaus, Kaiser Overall in Ullmann’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis at the Greenwich Music Festival, and Ned Keene in Peter Grimes with Washington National Opera. The Washington Post remarked of his performance that he “sang with a marvelous frank lyricism as Ned Keene.” He also offered a recital under the auspices of the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts.
Phares made his Houston Grand Opera debut during the 2007/08 Season under the direction of Patrick Summers in the world première of Jake Heggie’s Last Acts (Three Decembers) and returned to the stage of the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in a new production of Martín y Soler’s Una cosa rara. Continuing his commitment to bring the works of living composers to the stage, he sang the title role in the première of Elmer Gantry, by Robert Aldridge, in a co-production with Nashville Opera and Montclair State University. Phares offered Five Movements for My Father in a program of chamber music by Susan Kander at Weill Hall in New York - his performance coinciding with the commercial release of this work on the Loose Cans Music label.
Phares made his Metropolitan Opera debut, under the baton of James Levine, in the French triple-bill Parade, sang The Pilot in the Francesca Zambello production of The Little Prince at New York City Opera and Boston Lyric Opera, Maurice Bendrix in Jake Heggie’s The End of the Affair with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Madison Opera, Harlequin in Ariadne auf Naxos at the Dallas Opera, Chou-En Lai in Portland Opera’s presentation of Nixon in China, Danilo in The Merry Widow in a return engagement at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Masetto in the acclaimed Günter Krämer production of Don Giovanni at the Spoleto Festival USA, and Sebastian in the North American premiere of Thomas Adès’ The Tempest presented by the Santa Fe Opera in a new production by Jonathan Kent and conducted by Alan Gilbert.
Additional credits of note include Donald in Billy Budd at Washington National Opera; Anthony Hope in Sweeney Todd, Telemaco in Il ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria, and Fritz in Die tote Stadt with New York City Opera; Malatesta in Don Pasquale, Dandini in La cenerentola, and Pish-Tush in The Mikado for Arizona Opera; Valentin in Faust and Clayton McCallister in Cold Sassy Tree with Utah Symphony & Opera; Claudio in Beatrice and Benedict at Santa Fe Opera; Guglielmo in Così fan tutte and Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia at Boston Lyric Opera; and Charles Lindbergh in the premiere of Loss of Eden by Cary John Franklin as well as Pip in the premiere of the revised Miss Havisham’s Fire by Dominick Argento.
Other concert highlights include Claudio in Béatrice et Bénédict with the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Sir Colin Davis, Maximilian in Candide with the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Patrick Summers, Gerald Barry’s The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit with Thomas Adès and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and a program of Rodgers and Hammerstein songs with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. He also has been honored to have been affiliated for many seasons with the Marilyn Horne Foundation, under whose auspices he appeared in numerous recitals and master classes throughout the United States.
A graduate of the Juilliard Opera Center, he was a national winner of the 1998 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a finalist in the 1999 Eleanor McCollum Competition of the Houston Grand Opera. He also has been recognized with a Richard Gaddes Grant from the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the 2000 and 2001 Shouse Grants from Wolf Trap and the 2000 Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Juilliard School of Music.