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Vinson Cole

Adjunct Professor, Voice

American tenor Vinson Cole is internationally recognized as one of the leading artists of his generation. His career has taken him to all of the major opera houses and companies worldwide, including the Metropolitan Opera House; Opéra national de Paris’s Opéra Bastille; Teatro alla Scala (Milan, Italy); Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie (Brussels, Belgium); Berlin State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Hamburg State Opera, and Bavarian State Opera’s National Theatre Munich (Germany); Royal Opera House’s Covent Garden (London); San Francisco Opera; Opera Australia; Seattle Opera; and many more. Celebrated for his concert appearances, Cole has been a frequent guest of the most prestigious orchestras throughout the world and has collaborated with the greatest conductors of this era, including Christoph Eschenbach, Claudio Abbado, Carlo Maria Giulini, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, James Conlon, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa, Gerard Schwarz, Sir Georg Solti, and Giuseppe Sinopoli. Cole had an especially close working relationship with the late Herbert von Karajan, who invited Cole to the Salzburg Festival in 1984 to perform the tenor role of the Italian Singer in Strauss’s opera Der Rosenkavalier—the first of many performances there together. Their collaboration went on to include the Requiems of Verdi and Mozart, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, and Bruckner’s Te Deum. Many of these performances were recorded and released on Deutsche Grammaphon.

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Cole completed a degree in vocal studies at the Curtis Institute of Music under the tutelage of legendary singer Margaret Harshaw. He made his professional operatic debut at the San Francisco Spring Opera in the title role of Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz, and subsequently made his European debuts in Handel’s Acis and Galatea, Festival d’Anjou (Angers, France) and as Belmonte in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Welsh National Opera (Cardiff, Wales). Important international operatic debuts all followed in rapid succession: Santa Fe Opera (Fenton, Falstaff); New York City Opera (Rodolfo, La bohème); Opéra national de Paris (Belmonte, Die Entführung aus dem Serail); Opéra de Nice (Maria Stuarda); Vienna State Opera (La traviata); Royal Opera House’s Covent Garden (La clemenza di Tito); Lyric Opera of Chicago (title role, Idomeneo); Berlin State Opera (revival of Busoni’s rarely performed Die Brautwahl, under Daniel Barenboim); Wiener Festwochen (Alceste); Teatro di San Carlo, Naples (I puritani); Bavarian State Opera, Munich (La damnation de Faust); Hamburg State Opera (Carmen); Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie (title role, Don Carlos); and Teatro alla Scala (Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride, under Riccardo Muti). Cole later returned to La Scala for Don Giovanni and Gluck’s Armide (which opened the 1995 season, staged by Pier Luigi Pizzi), both under Maestro Muti, as well as Les contes d’Hoffmann and Faust.

In 1988, Cole made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Alfredo in Die Fledermaus and later performed Manon, La traviata, La bohème, L’elisir d’amore, Gianni Schicchi, and Carmen there. He also toured Japan with the company performing Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust under James Levine.

Cole’s debut with Seattle Opera in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice marked the beginning of a long relationship of yearly productions with the company, including Così fan tutte, Roméo et Juliette, Werther, Carmen, Faust, Les pêcheurs de perles, Lakmé, Les contes d’Hoffmann, Don Carlos (original five-act 1867 version composed for Opéra national de Paris), Anna Bolena, La bohème, Madama Butterfly, L’elisir d’amore, Un ballo in maschera, and Puccini’s Tosca (his debut in this opera). In 2006, he returned to the company to perform the Italian Singer role in Der Rosenkavalier.

In 2007, Cole starred in Semperoper Dresden’s production of La damnation de Faust, and, in 2008, he performed Verdi’s Requiem at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, as well as Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Philadelphia Orchestra (Christoph Eschenbach, conductor) and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival (James Conlon, conductor). He has been a frequent guest of Opera Australia, appearing in Sydney in many of his most famous roles including FaustWertherLes contes d'Hoffmann,
Carmen, and Don Carlos.

Highlights of past seasons include La bohème with San Francisco Opera and Les contes d’Hoffmann with Seattle Opera and the roles of Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor with Houston Grand Opera and Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with the New Japan Philharmonic (Seiji Ozawa, conductor). Notable concert performance highlights of past seasons include Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall (James Levine, conductor), Liszt’s Faust Symphony with the Seattle Symphony (Gerard Schwarz, conductor), Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor), Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette with Orchestre de Paris (Christoph Eschenbach, conductor), and Stravinsky’s Perséphone with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.