American baritone Jorell Williams debuts with Pacific Opera Victoria in the role of Moralès in the company’s April 2020 production of Carmen. Jorell’s 2019/20 season also includes the Homecoming Soldier in The Falling & The Rising and Dizzy Gillespie in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, both with Seattle Opera, as well as the baritone in Independence Eve (Opera Birmingham).
Recent highlights include Hannah Before in As One (American Opera Projects, New York City Opera, Seattle Opera); Mr. Gobineau in Menotti’s The Medium and Le Genie Oroès in the American première of Rameau’s Sympathie or Acante et Céphise (Victory Hall Opera); a debut with the Mimesis Ensemble at Carnegie Hall; the American première of Frank London’s Cuban-Yiddish Opera Hatuey: Memory of Fire (Peak Performances Alexander Kasser Theater); Aaron Copland’s Old American Songs and the world première of David Ludwig’s Songs from the Bleeding Pine (Brooklyn Art Song Society); and Dancaïre in Carmen, Schaunard in La bohème, and Falke in Die Fledermaus (Finger Lakes Opera).
Jorell has performed as a soloist with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for Marsalis’ Abyssinian Mass. He premiered new works by Libby Larsen, Daren Hagen, and Laura Kaminsky in a variety of concerts with the Phoenix Concerts and The Five Boroughs Music Festival at National Sawdust. Jorell was also a guest in residence with The Park Avenue Armory and Vy Higginsen’s Sing Harlem Choir for Interdisciplinary artist Nick Cave’s The Let Go: Up Right performance exhibit.
A former resident artist of the American Opera Projects Composers and the Voice series, Jorell is in demand as an interpreter of contemporary opera, and has created roles in several world premières, notably Hilliard and Boresi’s Blue Viola (Urban Arias); Matt Aucoin’s Crossing (American Repertory Theater); John David Earnest’s The Theory of Everything (Encompass New Opera Theater); Anthony Davis’ Lear on the Second Floor (University of San Diego); John Musto’s Bastianello (Rochester Lyric Opera); and workshops of Michael Torke’s Senna (2010), Nico Muhly’s Two Boys (2011), and Ricky Ian Gordon’s Intimate Apparel (2018) with the Metropolitan Opera.
Jorell has recorded world premières by Wynton Marsalis, Lauryn Hill, and Erykah Badu; David Lang’s Difficulty of Crossing a field with Beth Morrison Projects (Opera News top critics’ choice of 2015); and Jennifer Higdon’s 2017 Grammy nominated Cold Mountain with Santa Fe Opera.
He made his off-broadway debut in Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars with New York City Center Encores! and has toured as a soloist with the Mark Morris Dance Group. He performed with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in “A Celebration of America” at the Kennedy Center on the occasion of Barack Obama’s first Presidential Inauguration, and the European première of Marsalis’ Abyssinian Mass at London’s Barbican during the 2012 Olympics.
Jorell has performed as a young artist with the Santa Fe Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Caramoor Bel Canto Program, Opera North, the Steans Institute of Music at the Ravinia Festival, Songfest-Los Angeles, Des Moines Metro Opera, and the Westchester Vocal Institute. He is a recipient of the 2018 Rochester Classical Idol XII Top Prize and Audience Choice awards, and top awards from the Gerda Lissner International Competition, Schuyler Foundation for Career Bridges, Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation, The American Prize, Serge Koussevitzky Foundation, David Adams Art Song Competition, The American Traditions Competition, Civic Morning Musicals Foundation, the National Association of Negro Musicians, and the Liberace Foundation.
Jorell Williams, a plummy baritone, was particularly notable both for his liquid singing and his convincing incorporation of all three roles he played.
Anne Midgette, The Washington Post, World Premiere of Independence Eve, Urban Arias, 2017