Denver native Eric J. McConnell, bass-baritone, is quickly garnering acclaim in the American opera community for his distinctive dramatic voice and his theatrical interpretations of both comic and tragic characters. He begins the 2019-2020 season with a return as an Opera Fellow at the distinguished Aspen Music Festival, where he performs the Sodbuster in Missy Mazzoli’s Proving Up and covers Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro. He then returns as an Artist in Residence at Opera Colorado, where he will perform as Ambrogio in Il barbiere di Siviglia and Angelotti in Tosca. Additionally, he will sing Bartolo in the student matinée performance of Il barbiere di Siviglia and will study cover the role of Scarpia in Tosca. He will also make his debut with the Denver Philharmonic, singing the bass soloist in Mozart's Requiem.
During his first season with Opera Colorado in 2018-2019, he performed Dr. Grenvil in La traviata and Antonio in Le nozze di Figaro, and also debuted the role of Figaro in the student matinée performance of Le nozze di Figaro.
McConnell made debuts with several small companies in the 2017-2018 season, including Soirée Lyrique (Frank in Die Fledermaus and the Sacristan in Tosca), Petite Opera Productions (Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia), and Thompson Street Opera (Retrograde/Asher in the world premiere of Cosmic Ray and the Amazing Chris by Eric Lindsay). He also performed throughout the midwest as a touring artist with Opera for the Young’s outreach version of Rusalka as the Sea King (adapted from the original role of Vodník).
Previous seasons have seen McConnell in professional debuts with Central City Opera (Jailer in Tosca, William Jennings Bryan in The Ballad of Baby Doe, and Antonio in Le nozze di Figaro), the Albany Symphony Orchestra (Elisha Fitzgibbon in the orchestral premiere of Evan Mack’s Roscoe, a performance featuring renowned soprano Deborah Voigt), Opera Saratoga (President Prexy in Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock), and the SoBe Arts Institute (Science Officer Curium Black in the world premiere of Carson Kievman’s Intelligent Systems).
Other roles performed include Olin Blitch (Susannah), Grandpa Moss (The Tender Land), Bartolo (Le nozze di Figaro), Basilio (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Simone (Gianni Schicchi), Gus O’Neill (John Musto’s Later the Same Evening), Schlémil (Les contes d’Hoffmann), Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte), and Aristotle Onassis (Michael Daugherty’s Jackie O). Additional roles studied as a cover include Pistola (Falstaff), Angelotti (Tosca), and Mr. Mister (The Cradle Will Rock).
A multifacted performer, McConnell has made additional forays into the world of musical theater, performing as Rod in Avenue Q, Headmistress/Captain Ahab in Moby Dick! The Musical, Jean Prouvaire in Les Misérables, Molokov in Chess, and the title role in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
McConnell was a regional finalist in the Rocky Mountain region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2019, and also placed in the Denver Lyric Opera Guild competition that same year. Additional honors include a MONC Encouragement Award (Colorado-Wyoming District) and fourth place in the Bel Canto Foundation’s final year of awards, both in 2017. He has also participated as a national finalist in competitions with Classical Singer Magazine and the New York Lyric Opera.
He has trained as a young artist with Opera Colorado, Central City Opera, Opera Saratoga, the Aspen Opera Center, and Seagle Music Colony. He holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami. McConnell is an Eagle Scout, a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and an ardent collector of rubber ducks.