The American baritone, Stephen Powell, has been lauded by The Wall Street Journal for his “rich, lyric baritone, commanding presence, and thoughtful musicianship.” An alumnus of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Center for American Artists, he has sung Marcello in La bohème with that company. His Atlanta Symphony debut as Marcello in concert performances of La bohème was under Robert Spano’s direction. He has appeared as soloist with many of America’s leading orchestras, including the Detroit Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in repertoire including Orff’s Carmina Burana, L.v. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 and George Frideric Handel’s Messiah.
Stephen Powell’s operatic engagements are marked by his commanding stage presence and tonal beauty. Past season highlights include Ford in Falstaff with Florentine Opera and the New York City Opera, and the role of Clayton McAlister in Carlisle Floyd's opera Cold Sassy Tree with San Diego Opera. He was recently seen with the Berkshire Opera in the title role in Don Giovanni, and as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte with Florida Grand Opera, San Diego Opera and at the Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro. He has sung the title role in Le nozze di Figaro with both L'Opera de Montreal and L'Opera de Quebec. He has spent three seasons with the Glimmerglass Opera, singing the roles of Malatesta in Don Pasquale, Jack Point in The Yeomen of the Guard and Ford in Falstaff. He created the role of Felipe Nunez in the world premiere of The Conquistador, opposite Jerry Hadley and appeared as Ping to Jane Eaglen's Turandot, both with San Diego Opera.
With the Metropolitan Opera, Stephen Powell has sung Ping in Turandot opposite Eva Marton and Sharon Sweet, and the role of Schelkalov in Boris Godunov. On opening night of New York City Opera's 1995-1996 season, he created a sensation singing the title role in Paul Hindemith's Mathis der Maler. Substituting on short notice, the New York Times reported "he sang with beautiful tone and control" in his memorable company debut. His subsequent roles with that company include Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly and Faninal in Der Rosenkavalier.
Orchestral highlights of past seasons include G.F. Handel’s Messiah with the Montreal Symphony, Boston Baroque, Les Violons du Roy and Minnesota Orchestra and G. Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas. Stephen Powell has performed Carmina Burana with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Charles Dutoit and with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and toured North American with Edo de Waart and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in performances of L.v. Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. He sang his first performances with the Houston Symphony Orchestra in Orff's Carmina Burana, conducted by Hans Graf and debuted with the California Symphony interpreting Copland's Old American Songs. He toured Quebec, Montreal and Toronto with Les Violons du Roy as Christus in J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) and made his first recital appearance with New York Festival of Song, with Steven Blier at the piano.
The 2001-2002 season brought Stephen Powell many important opera and concert performances for Stephen Powell. He started the season singing the role of Germont in La Traviata with the Portland Opera and returns to New York City Opera as Ulysses in Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria. He sang Marcello in La Bohème at Lyric Opera of Chicago and George in Of Mice and Men with the Edmonton Opera. He performed Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with the Arizona Opera and made his role debut as Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Opera de Quebec. On the concert stage he performed with the Handel and Haydn Society in G.F. Handel’s Messiah and the Spokane Symphony in a concert version of La Bohème.
Stephen Powell’s roles at The Metropolitan Opera have included Ping in Turandot and Schelkalov in Boris Godunov. He has been a regular artist with New York City Opera, where his 2004-2005 season concluded with a new production of The Pearl Fishers. During New York City Opera’s 2003-204 season, he sang Enrico in a new production of Lucia di Lammermoor. Recent opera credits include the title role in Sweeny Todd with Cleveland Opera, Malatesta in Don Pasquale with Montreal Opera and Valentin in Faust with the Opera Company of Philadelphia. He also sang the title role in The Death of Klinghoffer at the Brroklyn Academy of Music.
Stephen Powell frequently joins his wife, the soprano Barbara Shirvis, in a recital program called Hearts Afire, which they created of love songs through the ages.