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 begins his 2021-2022 season with a company debut with Opera Steamboat as a last-minute replacement Bartolo in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia. He then returns to Virginia Opera as an Emerging Artist in its 2021-2022, performing as Donner in Das Rheingold, Colline in La bohème, Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro, and Teacher/Space-Kitty/Taxi Driver in Frances Pollock’s Earth to Kenzie. He also provides the singing and spoken dialogue for the title role in VO’s animated recording of the Joshua Borths children’s opera Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?
He made his Virginia Opera debut in 2020 as part of the VOAF Stayin’ Alive initiative and performed Sam in Trouble in Tahiti and Dr. Dulcamara in the children's opera Pinocchio in the company’s reimagined Spring 2021 season. He then returned to Central City Opera in their postponed 2021 season, where he performed as Ceprano in Rigoletto and covered Jigger Craigin 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 the production 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.
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. Additional honors include a MONC Encouragement Award (Colorado-Wyoming District, 2017) and fourth place in the Bel Canto Foundation’s final year of awards.
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.
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).