Keith Phares

Review Excerpts
Web site

A noted interpreter of Mozart and bel canto repertoire as well as Benjamin Britten and many of today’s living composers, Keith Phares is regarded as one of his generation’s most versatile artists.

Engagements this season have included Dandini in La cenerentola with Tulsa Opera; Charlie in Three Decembers with Des Moines Metro Opera; the Count in Le nozze di Figaro with New Orleans Opera; John Sorel in The Consul with Florida Grand Opera; and the world premiere of The Scarlet Ibis with the Prototype Festival. Future engagements include Zurga in Les pêcheurs de perles with Seattle Opera; and Charlie in Three Decembers with Florentine Opera.

Recent engagements have included Orin Mannion in Mourning Becomes Electra with Florida Grand Opera; the title role in Elmer Gantry with Tulsa Opera; Maxmillian in Candide with São Paulo Symphony Orchestra; Marcello in La bohème with Manitoba Opera James Halligan in the premiere of Eric Sawyer’s The Garden of Martyrs; the title role in Der Kaiser von Atlantis in a joint production with Central City Opera and Colorado Symphony; Marcello in La bohème in his debut with Seattle Opera; and The Father in the premiere of Gregory Spears’ Paul’s Case with UrbanArias.

In previous seasons, the  baritone sang 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 recent concert engagements include 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 now available from Naxos records.  Alongside Grammy awards for Best Contemporary Classical Composition and Best Engineering – Classical, it was been named Opera News’ #1 Opera Recording of 2011.

During the 2008 – 09 season Mr. Phares made his San Francisco Opera debut in the company’s premiere 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.

Mr. Phares made his Houston Grand Opera debut during the 2007 – 08 season under the direction of Patrick Summers in the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s Last Acts (Three Decembers); and returned to the stage of 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 of Elmer Gantry, by Robert Aldridge, in a co-production with Nashville Opera and Montclair State University.  Mr. 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 Loosecans Music label. 

Operatic highlights of recent seasons include his Metropolitan Opera debut, under the baton of James Levine, in the French triple-bill Parade; performances of 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 Billy Budd at Washington National Opera; Sweeney Todd, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria, and Die tote Stadt all at New York City Opera; Don Pasquale, La cenerentola, and The Mikado for Arizona Opera; Faust and Cold Sassy Tree with Utah Opera; Beatrice and Benedict at Santa Fe Opera; The End of the Affair at Madison Opera; and Così fan tutte and Il barbiere di Siviglia at Boston Lyric Opera. With Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, he has been seen as Charles Lindbergh in Loss of Eden by Cary John Franklin; and as Pip in Miss Havisham’s Fire by Dominick Argento.

Concert highlights include Béatrice et Bénédict with the New York Philharmonic under the baton of Sir Colin Davis; Candide with the San Francisco Symphony and Patrick Summers; Gerald Barry’s The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit with Thomas Adès and the Los Angeles Philharmonic; and a program of Rogers and Hammerstein songs with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.  He also has been honored to be affiliated for many seasons with the Marilyn Horne Foundation, under whose auspices he has 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 and the 2000 Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Juilliard School of Music.



ADAMSChou En-LaiNixon in China
ADÈSSebastianThe Tempest
ALDRIDGEElmer GantryElmer Gantry
ARGENTOPipMiss Havisham’s Fire
BARRYDeceitThe Triumph of Beauty and Deceit
BERLIOZClaudioBéatrice et Bénédict
BRITTENNed KeenePeter Grimes
DonaldBilly Budd
Billy Budd (cover)Billy Bidd
CHADWICKThe PadroneThe Padrone
DONIZETTIBelcoreL’Elisir d’amore
MalatestaLa cenerentola
FLOYDClayton McAllisterCold Sassy Tree
FRANKLINCharles LindberghLoss of Eden
GLUCKPierrotL’île de Merlin
MercutioRoméo et Juliette
HEGGIEBendrixThe End of the Affair
CharlieThree Decembers
KORNGOLDFritz (Pierrot)Die tote Stadt
LÉHARDaniloThe Merry Widow (in English)
MONTEVERDITelemacoIl ritorno d’Ulisse in patria
OttoneL’ incoronazione di Poppea
MOZARTGuglielmoCosì fan tutte
Count AlmavivaLe nozze di Figaro
MasettoDon Giovanni
PORTMANThe PilotThe Little Prince
POULENCLe GendarmeLes Mamelles de  Tirésias (in English)
PUCCINISchaunardLa bohème
MarcelloLa bohème
RAVELChat noirL'enfant et les sortilèges
ROSSINIFigaroIl barbiere di Siviglia
DandiniLa cenerentola
TaddeoL’italiana in Algeri
HalyL’italiana in Algeri
SOLERLubinoUna cosa rara (in English)
SONDHEIMAnthony HopeSweeney Todd
SULLIVANPish-TushThe Mikado
STRAUSS, J.EisensteinDie Fledermaus (German/English)
FalkeDie Fledermaus (in English)
STRAUSS, R.HarlekinAriadne auf Naxos
ULLMANNKaiser OverallThe Emperor of Atlantis
HANDELMessiah (complete)
MAHLERLieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
ORFFCarmina Burana
RAVELDon Quichotte à Dulcinée
SAINT-SAËNSWeihnachts Oratorium

Review Excerpts
Paul’s Case, UrbanArias
If operatic meat and potatoes is what you want, Baritone Keith Phares as Paul’s father is a succulent feast …Phares manages to break the sound barrier with profound, chill-inducing precision.
 – Apr. 21, 2013

Keith Phares as Paul’s father embodies well the strict disciplinarian.  His stern deep voice seems to carry all the pompous weight of a man formed and imprisoned by the industrial age society, and, at the same time, this singer actor touches me with a father’s consternation over his lost son. Apr. 23, 2013

La bohème, Seattle Opera
[Playing Marcello] Keith Phares, …was vocally superb and dramatically excellent.
The Seattle Times Feb. 25, 2013
Keith Phares was …superb in the role of Marcello.
The Sunbreak Feb. 27, 2013

Le nozze di Figaro, Opera Colorado
Keith Phares – also in his Opera Colorado debut – struck a noble figure and offered a commanding baritone as the Count.
Opera News May 2012

Baritone Keith Phares has the rakish looks and commanding presence necessary for the lecherous and hypocritical, yet somehow sympathetic, Count Almaviva, and his resonant tone in the Act III revenge aria was another breathtaking moment.
Daily Camera Feb. 16, 2012

…the performers sing as skillfully as they act. This is an ensemble piece and success depends on a well-rounded set of terrific voices, all supplied here. …great chemistry that extends to the rest of the cast as well. This is a comedy, balance is everything, and Keith Phares (as the Count), Twyla Robinson (the Countess) and Patricia Risley (as Cherubino) all find it, singing for laughs when appropriate, but tapping a rich, earthiness that gives their characters dimension.
The Denver Post Feb. 12, 2012

Carmina Burana/Symphony Pops, Columbus Symphony
Baritone Keith Phares showed off an impressive range.  …the strongest theatrical performer of the three. He is an engaging actor as well as a notable singer; through his gestures and musical expression, an audience can understand each turn of phrase… His presence is commanding yet unassuming; he is every bit the modern musical-dramatic actor.
Columbus Dispatch Oct. 16, 2011
 …Phares kicked off the evening with “Mab, la reine des mensonges” from Romeo and Juliet, immediately commanding the stage with his strong presence, rich, lush tones, and warm baritone voice. He patiently allowed his voice to swell with the powerful crescendos and climaxes of the music, and exuded an honest confidence that set him apart from the other soloists. When the music shifted to Broadway classics in the Second Act, Phares clearly became in his element as an impressive actor with a beautiful, expressive voice.
Broadway World Oct. 17, 2011

La bohème, Santa Fe Opera
Baritone Keith Phares conveyed the musician Schaunard with dapper magnetism — a delightful counterweight to his friends’ tendency to self-imposed gloom.
Santa Fe New Mexican, Jul. 3, 2011

Carmina Burana, San Francisco Symphony
Baritone Keith Phares, with the largest share of the duties, rose ably to the occasion, particularly in the high vocal lines of “Dies, nox et omnia.”
San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 5, 2010

CD Review: Here and Gone from Heggie’s Passing By
Keith Phares and Paul Groves bring to the songs and duets an affecting sense of loss and regret as to the road not taken., Nov. 11, 2010

 Heggie’s attractive “Here and Gone” cycle is written for tenor, baritone and piano quartet, happily recalling Vaughan Williams’ “On Wenlock’s Edge.” The singing is as fine as this distinguished lineup promises to be.

Three Decembers, Central City Opera
The standout in the three-person cast under John Baril’s baton was baritone Keith Phares, who created the role of Charlie at the world premiere in 2008. With his resonant, wonderfully multidimensional voice, Phares had power to spare but could also shape soft, poignant moments with a gentle sweetness that made Charlie empathetic and real.
Opera News, Oct. 5, 2010

“Youthful baritone Keith Phares, who created the role in Houston, is a stellar Charlie, and as Bea, CCO regular Emily Pulley makes no effort to hide the mess that her life is.”
Daily Camera, July 11, 2010

Elmer Gantry, Florentine Opera
“Keith Phares and Patricia Risley gave stand out performances as Gantry and Falconer, and their scenes together lit up the stage.”
Opera Online, March 2010

 “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.”
Opera News, Mar. 21, 2010

 Cosi fan tutte, Portland Opera
“Keith Phares brought his incisive baritone and a compelling seriousness to Guglielmo.”
The Oregonian, February 6, 2010

 “Add to the tuneful mix tenor Ryan MacPherson as Ferrando and the hunky baritone Keith Phares as the boyish Guglielmo. The goofy suitors strengthen the good chemistry. MacPherson proves himself an attention-getting tenor and comic and Phares is no slouch at singing and theatrics.”
ConcertoNet, February 2010

 “Keith Phares used his resonant and expressive baritone to the utmost, and his Guglielmo was robust and totally convincing.”
Oregon Music News, February 9, 2010

Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Washington National Opera
“The excellent Figaro Keith Phares gave appropriate weight to his performance, and also all of the necessary virtuosity that is needed for a baritone in this difficult Rossini work.”, September 29, 2009

 La cenerentola, Glimmerglass Opera
“Everyone once in a while, we veteran opera-goers are privileged to see a promising artist give a break-out performance that announces a giant step forward into major stardom.  Such was the case with the wholly exceptional Dandini from the exciting young baritone Keith Phares in Glimmerglass’s quite delightful Cenerentola One third into the first act of the Rossini (up to that point a wholly competent, if not yet quite sparkling rendition), Mr. Phares strode on through the door stage left, and did not so much inhabit the stage as take complete ownership of it.  His first few utterances — virile, vibrant, “present” — caused the audience to sit up as one with immediately increased interest. Indeed, having thrown the gauntlet of vocal excitement and dramatic commitment in his opening aria, he urged the entire evening to a much higher level….nothing in his excellent prior work could have prepared me for this star-making role assumption. His voice now had even greater point and focus, his lower range filled the house without pushing, his trip-hammer melismas were spot-on, and his sassy upper register had a thrilling ping. His acting, always finely detailed, was on this occasion a veritable tour-de-force, totally in charge and in your face, and characterized by wryly funny gestures and takes. He was just up there having a hell of a good time, and so were we. And it does not hurt that he is as handsome as a young Alec Baldwin.  What a joy to anticipate the doors that should now open to him at the world’s major houses. The buzz at intermission was “who is that Dandini?” Keith, I do believe you have “arrived.” A well deserved triumph for an artist with a great future.”
Opera Today, August 2009

“The second brilliantly executed comedic role in this production, and another effort likely to be remembered for years to come, was Keith Phares’ Dandini – valet to Ramiro who is all too eager to play the role of ‘prince for a day’ at his employer’s request. Making his entrance sporting a slick three-piece suit, fur coat and greased-back coif, Phares resembled a character culled from a ‘30s style gangster movie.”, August 6, 2009

 “The crowd loved him as it did bass Keith Phares as Dandini. He won many hearts with his resonant voice, stellar technique and comic flair, not to mention his good looks.”
The Daily Gazette, July 19, 2009

 “The second brilliantly executed comedic role in this production, and another effort likely to be remembered for years to come, was Keith Phares’ Dandini – valet to Ramiro who is all too eager to play the role of “prince for a day” at his employer’s request. Making his entrance sporting a slick three-piece suit, fur coat and greased-back coif, Phares resembled a character culled from a ‘30s style gangster movie.  The role of Dandini calls for a coloratura baritone – an uncommon vocal presence that, like the role of Angelina, demands great flexibility for the florid vocal embellishments. Phares’ handsome baritone was at once evident in his tongue-in-cheek aria Come un’ape ne’ giorni d’aprile, and his superb comedic acting spiced up the many ensemble numbers, particularly his second-act duet with Don Magnifico (Un segreto d’importanza). I was also impressed with the singer’s rhythmic skills in the second-act sextet (Siete voi?), where his razor sharp dotted-rhythmic figures were as accurate as any of the instruments accompanying the singers from the pit.”
CNY Cafe Momus, July 19, 2009

 “Tessier’s handsome and affable Ramiro and Phares’ gamesome, Cary Grant-like Dandini, determined to make the most of his opportunity to impersonate Don Ramiro, made for an inspired teaming.”
Examiner, July 24, 2009

 “Baritone Keith Phares was very funny as his valet, Dandini, thrilled and nervous about disguising himself as his master…”
Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2009

Peter Grimes, Washington National Opera
“It helps to have such strong singers as WNO marshaled. Keith Phares sang with a marvelous frank lyricism as Ned Keene, the decent but weak apothecary who lines up Grimes’s new apprentice.”
The Washington Post, March 23, 2009
Three Decembers, San Francisco Opera
“Phares, making his S.F. Opera debut, was superb. He has a rock-solid baritone with a real warmth underpinning it; it was a pleasure to listen to him alone and in duet with Clayton, especially effective in a scene where brother and sister imagine themselves re-enacting what they thought to have been one of the happiest days in their parents’ short-lived marriage.”
Contra Costa Times, December 12, 2008

 “Baritone Keith Phares and soprano Kristin Clayton bring plenty of sympathy and vocal color to both roles…”
The San Francisco Chronicle, December 13, 2008

 “The bracing baritone of Keith Phares and the expansive and sure soprano of Kristin Clayton proved potent matches for von Stade.”
The Sacramento Bee, December 14, 2008

 “Baritone Phares brought a rich, accurate voice; good looks; and fine acting ability to the part of Charlie, making his performance the highlight of the production for me.” 
“…committed performances by Keith Phares, Kristin Clayton…”
San Francisco Classical Voice, December 12, 2008

 “Clayton and Phares were spellbinding in the perfectly delivered and deeply emotional duet “Man in the Chair”…
The Epoch Times, December 16, 2008

 “Phares has a gorgeous, Broadway-style voice, and Clayton is especially fine in softer singing. The shoe duet, strong enough to have Imelda Marcos turning in her grave, was delightful.”
Bay Area Reporter, December 18, 2008

 “Interestingly, the most complex role is not Maddy but Charlie, and Keith Phares’ powerful baritone is a wonderful complement to von Stade. The role is demanding in its emotional range and Phares’ voice shifts between outrage and tenderness with stunning ease. His extended aria that opens Part II, where he sings of writing his now-dead partner Burt “four little lines” each day, seems destined to become a staple baritone aria, and singers tackling it will forever be trying to live up to its original singer. Phares is clearly a name to watch.”
ConcertoNet, December 30, 2008

Last Acts (aka Three Decembers HGO premiere)
“Baritone Keith Phares…match[ed] von Stade in grand sound and polished technique.”
– Charles Ward, Houston Chronicle, March 2, 2008

Elmer Gantry, Nashville Opera
“Keith Phares, charismatically seductive in voice and person, was ideally cast as Elmer, one of those operatic antiheros in the line of Don Giovanni and Tom Rakewell, who charm us even as we are repelled by their morally bankrupt nature.”
Opera News, February 2008

 “Just as the film (starring Burt Lancaster) offers a more likable title character than the book’s loathsome, conniving and perennially heartless protagonist, the operatic Gantry is a more appealing character, though still seriously flawed. The baritone Keith Phares deftly illuminated both Gantry’s rapscallion ways and his genuine introspection with a warm voice and a lively stage presence.”
– Vivien Schweitzer, The New York Times, January 25, 2008

 “Keith Phares, as Gantry, has the confidence of someone who has been told he was good-looking since he was a baby, and the singer was blessed with an almost unctuously seductive baritone. He embodied the shallow jock turned sham artist.”
New Jersey Star-Ledger, January 25, 2008

 The End of the Affair, Lyric Opera of Kansas City
“Keith Phares was magnificent as Maurice, his ringing, bronze baritone always pleasing to the ear and his ferocity making us both love and hate him.”
The Kansas City Star, April 22, 2007

 Le nozze di Figaro, Arizona Opera 
 “For the opening night in Tucson, the part of the Count was sung by Keith Phares, who brings a kind of handsome suaveness to his role…”
The Arizona Republic, November 15, 2006

 Die tote Stadt, New York City Opera
“The second aria, from Act II, is “Mein sehnen, mein waehnen,” a poignant treat for the baritone voice. Thomas Hampson is a strong proponent of this song as a recital piece and for this performance, the fine young Keith Phares put it over very beautifully. This was far and away the highlight of the afternoon and the crowd knew it, rewarding him with its warmest ovation. Mr. Phares sang the role of the pilot in “The Little Prince” last season and was quite impressive.”
The New York Sun, September 26, 2006
The Merry Widow, Lyric Opera of Kansas City
Most convincing vocally and dramatically among the cast was baritone Keith Phares as Danilo, the widow’s love interest who loves her but spurns her. He sang with bright, sinewy gold, and his natural stage sense was engaging.”
The Kansas City Star, April 30, 2006

 Nixon in China, Portland Opera
“Keith Phares created an elegant Chou-en Lai.”
Opera, September, 2006

 “Keith Phares is a Chou of Verdian authority, with a commanding baritone voice that adds moral weight to his character.”
The Oregonian, March 27, 2006

 The Little Prince, New York City Opera
“The stupendous baritone Keith Phares…who has a warm, inviting tone and clarity and concision of singing style, was a magnificent pilot.”
New Jersey Star Ledger, November 14, 2005

 “With his attractive stage presence and heroic voice, Phares was well suited to the role. He created a stalwart and likeable hero, and was a decided asset to the production.”
Bay Windows, February 24, 2005

 The Elixir of Love, Arizona Opera
“Keith Phares has a, creamy baritone and fine comedic timing. As Belcore he had just the right swagger, and a voice so rich you kinda understood why all the women swooned over him, even though he wore his arrogance like medals on his army jacket.”
The Arizona Daily Star, February 2003

 Il barbiere di Siviglia, Boston Lyric Opera
“Keith Phares was a personable, assured, and sexy Figaro with a pleasing baritone voice that tackled the score with ease and expressiveness.”
Opera Now, January/ February 2003

 “Keith Phares was dashingly handsome in the title role and nimbly jumped his attractive light baritone over all the vocal hurdles.”
The Boston Globe, October 4, 2002
Marilyn Horne Foundation recital, Juilliard Theater
“His singing was so vivid and expressive, the German words so crisp, that the specifics of the texts almost didn’t matter…and when Mr. Phares broke into a jaunty account in good old English of ‘The Most Beautiful Girl in the World’ from the Rodgers and Hear musical Jumbo, every snappy line and witty rhyme was an utter pleasure.”
The New York Times, January 23, 2002

 Miss Havisham’s Fire, Opera Theater of St. Louis
“Keith Phares was heart-rending and memorable as Pip, singing with a dark baritone and conveying worlds of grief with a single glance.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 4, 2001