Stephen West

Professor of Music


In a long and distinguished career, bass-baritone Stephen West has appeared in over 150 roles with many of the finest opera companies in the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, the Bayreuth, Salzburg and Santa Fe Festivals, Opéra National de Paris, Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, and with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, New York City Opera, Opera Colorado, the San Francisco, Seattle, Washington and Dallas operas, among many others. He has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Boston, Atlanta, and Montreal Symphonies and the Philadelphia and Cleveland Orchestras in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Tanglewood and the Hollywood Bowl. He has also collaborated with many world-famous conductors, including Sir Riccardo Muti, Sir Andrew Davis, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Sir Charles MacKerras, Julius Rudel, Michael Gielen, James Levine and Richard Bonynge.

He is currently Professor of Music and former Chair of the Voice and Opera Department in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance at the University of Michigan. Professor West is a graduate of the University of Colorado in Boulder, and earned two advanced Diplomas in Opera Studies from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He is also the recipient of many awards, including the 1995 New York City Opera Kolozsvar Award, a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, two National Awards from the Metropolitan Opera, and two prizes from the VII Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow. He has studied with renowned teachers such as Margaret Harshaw, Maitland Peters, and extensively with world-renowned basses Hans Hotter and Jerome Hines.

His students are successful in both opera and musical theater and have appeared in opera houses in the United States, Canada and Europe, in major music festivals, and are currently appearing on Broadway and National Tours. They have been awarded scholarships to young artist programs and conservatories, and have won major national and international vocal competitions. His Music Education graduates can be found teaching at major universities and in public and private schools in the U. S. and Canada. He has presented numerous master classes for Classical Singer Magazine, at Opera in the Ozarks, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and for the Bel Canto Institute in Florence, Italy, where he teaches voice during the summer.

Continuing a highly successful performing career, Prof. West recently sang the world premiere of Frances Pollock’s social justice opera Stinney: An American Execution, recorded by PBS at Opera Grand Rapids, and The Sacristan in Puccini’s Tosca with Kansas City Lyric Opera. He has also been a mainstay with the Ann Arbor Symphony, appearing in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, Die Zauberflöte and Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and the Verdi Requiem and Beethoven Symphony No. 9. Upcoming engagements include Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Dexter Community Orchestra and Sacristan in Tosca with the Kalamazoo Symphony in Michigan.

Prof. West has starred in over 40 musicals, including such roles as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof and Javert in Les Misérables (Encore Musical Theatre Co.), Miguel de Cervantes in Man of La Mancha and Billy Bigelow in Carousel. He appeared as Emile de Becque in South Pacific (Denver Center Theater Company) and his portrayal of Charlie Anderson in Shenandoah (San Diego Civic Light Opera) earned the Critics Award for “best actor in a musical” from Drama-Logue magazine.

A true “singing actor,” Professor West triumphs in roles such as Boito’s Mefistofele and Gounod’s Méphistophélès, and as the heroes of Verdi. He is an exponent of contemporary music, and excels in the repertoire of Richard Wagner. His Seattle Opera portrayal of Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg inspired Bryan Magee of London’s Daily Telegraph to write, “He covered himself with glory. At the end the entire audience rose spontaneously in a standing ovation. I suspect it was one of those special nights of which I shall find myself saying on future occasions: ‘I was there.'”

Over the course of many seasons with the Metropolitan Opera, Prof. West has sung the Commendatore in Don Giovanni, the Animal Trainer/Athlete and Dr. Schön in Lulu, Dr. Kolenáty in The Makropoulos Affair, Fafner in Das Rheingold, and in Der Rosenkavalier with the company on tour in Japan. He made his New York City Opera debut singing the title role in Boito’s Mefistofele, and also starred as Ezra Mannon in Mourning Becomes Electra, the title role in Verdi’s Attila, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Andrew Borden in Lizzie Borden, and Sparafucile in Rigoletto with the company. At Lyric Opera of Chicago, Prof. West has sung Claggart and Flint in Billy Budd, Peter in Hänsel und Gretel, John Quincy Adams in the world premiere of Anthony Davis’s Amistad, and Dr. Kolenáty in The Makropoulos Affair. With Opera Colorado, he has sung 21 roles in 20 productions, highlighted by Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger, Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte, the title role in Gianni Schicchi, and Baron Ochs in Der Rosenkavalier.

West’s international opera credits include Claggart in Billy Budd with Teatro Regio di Torino; the Animal Trainer/Athlete in Lulu with Opéra Bastille in Paris, the Salzburg Festival, and the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin; Dr. Schön in Lulu with the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin and with the Opéra Bastille; Heinrich in Lohengrin in multiple seasons at the Bayreuth Festival; the title role in Boito’s Mefistofele with the Bayerische Rundfunk Köln; and Kaspar in Der Freischütz with the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin. His Bayreuth debut was as Heinrich in Lohengrin, conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano.

Updated on: 1/2024