Biography

About the bass-baritone and his career and life so far ...

American bass-baritone Ryan McKinny is “one of the finest singers of his generation” with a “voice that drips with gold” (Opera News) and has become known for his “powerful presence” (The Independent).

McKinny sang with conviction and conveyed a whole range of conflicting emotions— anger, frustration, anguish, bewilderment, and tenderness...

Ithica Times

With many of the world’s opera and concert venues closed due to the global pandemic, Ryan McKinny adapted the beauty of his art form to the film screen. At the beginning of quarantine, he founded Keep the Music Going Productions, where he and a group of renowned artists shared videos both live and recorded to raise funds for the fantastic relief organizations that provide financial support to artists during this challenging time.

Through his production company, he has since collaborated with The Washington National Opera to release Monuments of Hope starring himself and mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, where they performed in front of D.C.’s most iconic monuments. He created a short film, Glimmerglass Lieder, where he showcased Schubert Lieder against the stunning backdrop of Otsego County and the Glimmerglass Festival campus. McKinny produced a segment for the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s For the Love of the Lyric virtual concert, featuring star sopranos Renee Fleming and Julia Bullock.

In collaboration with Houston Grand Opera, McKinny co-directed and starred in a digital production of David T. Little and Royce Vavrek’s one-act opera Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera, in association with Austin Opera. He also directed Lee Hoiby’s one-woman opera Bon Appétit based on an episode of Julia Child’s TV program, The French Chef, starring the renowned mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton. Future engagements include returns to the Metropolitan Opera and the Houston Grand Opera in leading roles.

Last season McKinny made his role and house debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Joseph de Rocher in Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally’s Dead Man Walking, featuring a new production by Leonard Foglia. Further orchestral engagements last season included two appearances with the San Francisco Symphony: their opening night performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and a double bill of Michael Tilson Thomas’ Rilke Songs and Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn. With Houston’s Da Camera, Mr. McKinny performed Poulenc’s Le Bal Masqué, and he appeared in joint recital in “Beyond the Aria” at Chicago’s Harris Theater.

In the 2018-2019 season, Ryan McKinny made two important role debuts: the title role in Don Giovanni at Houston Grand Opera and Wotan in Das Rheingold at Opéra de Montréal. He returned to the Dutch National Opera for the European premiere of John Adams’ Girls of the Golden West in a production by Peter Sellars, the same role in which he made his San Francisco Opera debut the previous season. Mr. McKinny also sang Leonard Bernstein’s SongFest with Marin Alsop and the Juilliard Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, the title role in Der fliegende Holländer with Edo de Waart and the Milwaukee Symphony, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He returned to the Bayreuth Festival in the summer of 2019 to reprise his acclaimed performances of Amfortas in Parsifal.

Mr. McKinny has appeared at the Metropolitan Opera (Biterolf in Tannhäuser, Sprecher in Die Zauberflöte, Kothner in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Lieutenant Ratcliffe in Billy Budd for his debut); Bayreuth Festival (Amfortas in Parsifal); Dutch National Opera (debut in Pierre Audi’s production of Parsifal); Los Angeles Opera (Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, Stanley Kowalski to Renée Fleming’s Blanche DuBois in Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire, Leone in Handel’s Tamerlano with Plácido Domingo and Don Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia); Santa Fe Opera (Oppenheimer in Doctor Atomic and Jochanaan in Salome); Washington National Opera (Donner and Gunther in Der Ring des Nibelungen, and Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro); Staatstheater Wiesbaden (Mandryka in a new production of Arabella); English National Opera (Tiridate in David Alden’s production of Radamisto); Semperoper Dresden (Escamillo in Carmen); Hamburg State Opera (Carmen and Der fliegende Holländer); Deutsche Oper Berlin (Tristan und Isolde with Donald Runnicles, Peter in Hänsel und GretelCarmen, Un Frate in a new production of Don Carlo, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, and as bass soloist in a staged version of Verdi’s Messa da requiem); Deutsche Oper am Rhein (role debut as Amfortas in Parsifal); Teatro Colòn in Buenos Aires (Parsifal); Hawaii Opera Theater (Der fliegende Holländer and his role debut in Eugene Onegin); Oper Leipzig (Hercules in Peter Konwitschny’s new production of Alceste); Theater Basel (Nathanael in the world premiere Andrea Lorenzo Scartazzini’s Der Sandmann in a production by Christof Loy); Canadian Opera Company (Melot in Peter Sellars’s production of Tristan und Isolde under Johannes Debus); and the Glimmerglass Festival (his role debut in Der fliegende Holländer and Billy Bigelow in Carousel). An alumnus of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, Mr. McKinny has performed a number of roles on the mainstage, including Gunther in Götterdämmerung, Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde, the title role in Rigoletto, Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, as well as roles in AidaHänsel und GretelDon GiovanniCarmenBéatrice et BénédictA Midsummer Night’s DreamLohengrinUn ballo in mascheraBilly Budd, and Simon Boccanegra.

On the concert stage, Mr. McKinny sang the world premiere of Shostakovich’s uncompleted opera Orango under Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic with stage direction by Peter Sellars, which he reprised in London with the London Philharmonia (available on Deutsche Grammophon). He also performed as Richard Nixon in John Adams’ Nixon in China with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by the composer. With Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, he performed Arias and Barcarolles with Isabel Leonard, as well as Mass with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel, both to celebrate the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein. He has been heard with the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andris Nelsons at Tanglewood as Donner in Das Rheingold; Cleveland Orchestra and National Symphony in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9; Rossini’s Stabat Mater at the Grant Park Music Festival; Britten’s War Requiem with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop; Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 (“Symphony of a Thousand”) and Wotan’s Abschied from Act 3 of Die Walküre at the Aspen Music Festival with Robert Spano. He has performed the bass-baritone roles in Oedipus Rex for his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Michael Tilson Thomas and the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Esa-Pekka Salonen in his final concerts as music director with staging by Peter Sellars. Mr. McKinny was heard in a special recital of Schubert’s Die Winterreise during the Sydney Festival, which was broadcast on ABC, Australia’s public radio and has been heard at the Aspen Music Festival for a recital recreated on a program initially performed by Jerome Hines in June 1949.

“Ryan McKinny is a discovery as Amfortas. His intensity and vocal luminosity are superb.”

Hessische Niedersächsische Allgemein

While a student at the Juilliard School, Mr. McKinny made his Carnegie Hall debut in Handel’s Messiah with the Musica Sacra Orchestra. At the Aspen Music Festival, he sang his first performance of Winterreise accompanied on the piano by Richard Bado. At the Wolf Trap Opera Company, Mr. McKinny has sung Barone di Kelbar in Verdi’s Un giorno di regno, Le Gouverneur in Rossini’s Le comte Ory and Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro.

Mr. McKinny was the first recipient of the Birgit Nilsson Prize for singing Wagner at the Operalia Competition held at Teatro alla Scala in Milan and the Kirsten Flagstad/George London Award from the George London Foundation. He also represented the United States in the 2007 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, where he was a finalist in the Rosenblatt Recital Song Prize. He was a Grand Finalist in the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and is featured in the film The Audition released by Decca on DVD.