Denver native Eric J. McConnell is quickly garnering acclaim in the American opera community for his distinctive dramatic voice and theatrical interpretations of both comic and tragic characters. He enters the 2020-2021 season with his debut as an Emerging Artist with Virginia Opera, where he will perform as Simone in Gianni Schicchi, Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro, and the Sergeant of Police (and Major General cover) in The Pirates of Penzance. He was additionally contracted to sing Monterone in VO's fall 2020 production of Rigoletto, which was ultimately cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Summer plans include a return to Central City Opera in their postponed 2021 season, where he will perform as Ceprano in the family matinée performance of Rigoletto and cover Jigger in Carousel.
He began the 2019-2020 season with a return as an Opera Fellow at the distinguished Aspen Music Festival, where he sang the Sodbuster in Missy Mazzoli’s Proving Up and covered Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro. He then returned as an Artist in Residence at Opera Colorado, where he performed as Bartolo in the student matinée performance of Il barbiere di Siviglia. He also made his debut with the Denver Philharmonic, singing the bass soloist in Mozart's Requiem. McConnell was scheduled to sing Angelotti in Opera Colorado’s production of Tosca before that production too was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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. Earlier in the season, he debuted at the Aspen Music Festival, performing as Schlémil in Les contes d'Hoffmann and covering Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia.
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), Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte), and Aristotle Onassis (Michael Daugherty’s Jackie O). Additional roles studied as a cover include Pistola (Falstaff) 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 is a two-time regional finalist in the Rocky Mountain region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, in both 2020 and 2019. He also recently won third place in the Denver Lyric Opera Guild’s 2020 competition, and placed the year before as well. 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 a zealous collector of rubber ducks.