“It is difficult to believe that Michael Mayes was undertaking the title role for the first time. Mayes captured the many facets of the deformed jester, first mocking and then raging at the members of the depraved court, as his attempts to protect his daughter moved from steely to tragically futile. This gifted baritone was never less than compelling dramatically, but his performance of “Cortigiani, vil razza dannata” was superb.” – Opera News
With a “powerful” voice and an “arresting stage presence”, baritone Michael Mayes is known for his consummate portrayals of iconic characters in the operatic repertoire. Originally from Cut and Shoot, Texas, Michael has performed with opera companies across the United States including Cincinnati Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Kentucky Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Arizona Opera, Central City Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, and Fort Worth Opera. Engagements for the 2014-2015 season included Charlie in Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers with UrbanArias, Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus with Syracuse Opera, a return to Michigan Opera Theater for his role debut as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Escamillo in La Tragédie de Carmen with Opera Delaware, Marcello in La bohème with Pensacola Opera, a reprise of his acclaimed Joseph De Rocher with Opera Parallèle in San Francisco, Older Thompson in Glory Denied with Opera Memphis, and Lawrence in The Wreckers with Bard SummerScape. The 2015-2016 season includes his debut with Dallas Opera and San Diego Opera in the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s Great Scott, Jack Rance in Opera Omaha’s La fanciulla del West, Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus with Baltimore Concert Opera, Manfred in Heggie’s Out of the Darkness with Music of Remembrance, Scarpia in Tosca with Central City Opera, and another Dead Man Walking with New Orleans Opera. In future seasons, Mr. Mayes will make his debut with Washington National Opera in his celebrated role of Joseph De Rocher in Dead Man Walking in addition to appearing with Boston Lyric Opera, Nashville Opera, Virginia Opera, and the Teatro Real in Madrid.
In the 2013-2014 season, Mr. Mayes debuted the role of Rigoletto with Boston Lyric to critical acclaim. Additionally, he debuted with the Gotham Chamber Opera in Baden-Baden 1927, Madison Opera in Dead Man Walking, and returned to Pensacola Opera as Escamillo in Carmen. He tackled the role of Joseph De Rocher once again in his return to Central City Opera in the summer of 2014 and created the role of Adam in The Canticle of the Black Madonna with Anima Mundi Productions. The 2012-2013 season saw his Joseph De Rocher with Eugene Opera, Photo-Op with UrbanArias , Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus for Opera on the James, Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Pensacola Opera, Don Giovanni with the Green Mountain Opera Festival, and his return to Ft. Worth Opera as Elder Thompson in the critically acclaimed Glory Denied. In the 2011-2012 season Mr. Mayes debuted the role of Joseph De Rocher in Dead Man Walking in a performance described by Tulsa World as “an experience those who saw it will never forget.” Additionally, Mr. Mayes returned to Kentucky Opera as Escamillo in Carmen, Shreveport Opera as Danilo in Merry Widow, Fort Worth Opera as Kinesias in Lysistrata, and debuted with Nashville Opera as Silvio in Pagliacci. He returned to Des Moines Metro Opera in the summer of 2012 in the title role in Don Giovanni. Engagements for 2010-2011 included Valentin in Faust with Opera Birmingham, Marcello in La bohème with Eugene Opera and Des Moines Metro Opera, Silvio in Pagliacci with Kentucky Opera, the title role in Don Giovanni with Shreveport Opera, and Papageno in Die Zauberflöte with Michigan Opera Theater.
Mr. Mayes joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera in the 2009-2010 season for their production of Gianni Schicchi. Other career highlights include the title role in Don Giovanni and Dandini in La cenerentola with Connecticut Opera, Conte Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro with Des Moines Metro Opera, the title role in Il barbiere di Siviglia for Sugar Creek Opera, Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Oklahoma Ballet and San Antonio Symphony, and Guglielmo in Così fan tutte with Arizona Opera. Marcello in La bohème with Duluth Festival Opera, Shreveport Opera, New Brittain Symphony, Skylight Opera Theater, and Opera on the James, Conte di Luna in Il trovatore with Eugene Opera, Lancelot in Augusta Opera’s Camelot, Top in The Tender Land with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette with PORTOpera, and Peter in Opera Company of Philadelphia’s production of Hänsel und Gretel. In an extension of his involvement with the development of Margaret Garner by Richard Danielpour, Mr. Mayes performed with The Opera Company of Philadelphia the role of Edward Gaines opposite Mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, which he also performed at Opera Carolina with Ms. Graves to critical acclaim.
A graduate of the University of North Texas, Mr. Mayes has appeared internationally in conjunction with La Fenice in Castel-Franco Veneto, Italy. Mr. Mayes’ honors include 3rd place winner at the Metropolitan National Council Auditions in Chicago, the Entergy Young Texas Artist Competition Vocalist Award, John Alexander Award, the John Moriarty Award, and an advanced division winner at the Anton Guadagno Vocal Competition.