Associate Professor of Voice
Area Director, Opera
Ann & Dennis Ross Faculty of Distinction in Opera
Recognized internationally as one of the leading singing actors today, American bass-baritone, Alan Held, has appeared in major roles in the world’s finest opera houses, including The Metropolitan Opera, The Vienna State Opera, The Royal Opera House Covent Garden, The Paris Opera, The Bavarian State Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Teatre del Liceu, Hamburg State Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera, Netherlands Opera, Theatre Royal de la Monnaie, The Canadian Opera Company, and Teatro de la Maestranza. His many roles include Wotan in Wagner’s “Der Ring Des Nibelungen”, Amfortas in “Parsifal”, Scarpia in “Tosca”, The Four Villains in “Les Contes d’Hoffmann”, Jochanaan in “Salome”, Kurwenal in “Tristan und Isolde”, Don Pizzaro in “Fidelio”, Orestes in “Elektra”, Balstrode in Peter Grimes, and the title roles in “Gianni Schicchi”, “Der Fliegende Holländer”, “Wozzeck”, and “Cardillac”.
Equally at home on the concert stage, he has performed with the world’s leading orchestras including The Berlin Philharmonic, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, The Pittsburgh Symphony, The National Symphony Orchestra, The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, The BBC-Scottish Symphony Orchestra, The Paris Orchestra, The Kirov Opera Orchestra, and The Montreal Symphony Orchestra. He has also appeared at the Salzburg and Tanglewood Festivals as well as the BBC Proms.
He has worked with the such distinguished conductors as James Levine, Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Colin Davis, Christoph von Dohnányi, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, Valery Gergiev, Bernard Haitink, Mariss Jansons, James Conlon, Sir Charles Mackerras, Zubin Mehta, Franz Welser-Möst, Kent Nagano, Sir Simon Rattle, David Robertson, Donald Runnicles, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Jeffrey Tate.
The 2017-2018 season has Mr. Held appearing with The Cleveland Orchestra as part of their gala centennial season. The orchestra will reprise their highly acclaimed production of Janáček’s “The Cunning Little Vixen” with performances in Cleveland, Vienna, and Luxembourg. Mr. Held will also sing the opera with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. He will return to the Vienna Staatsoper to sing his acclaimed interpretation of Jockanaan in “Salome” and to debut, in a new production, the role of Caspar in “Der Freischütz”.
A native of Washburn, Illinois, Mr. Held received his vocal training at Millikin University and Wichita State University. He is a recipient of numerous honors and awards including The Birgit Nilsson Prize. He received an Honorary Doctorate from Millikin University in 2000. He is also a noted clinician and has, since 2002, given public master classes and private coachings at Yale University. In January 2014, Mr. Held was named The Ann and Dr. Dennis Ross Faculty of Distinction in Opera at Wichita State University. This year, Professor Held becomes just the third Director of Opera at WSU. He continues his active vocal career in addition to serving as an Associate Professor in the School of Fine Arts. Students of Mr. Held are members of prestigious young artist programs including the Lindemann Young Artist Program at The Metropolitan Opera and at the Adler Fellowship Program at The San Francisco Opera. Since 2016, Mr. Held has been a guest Master Teacher at The Miami Music Festival Wagner Institute.
Mr. Held served as the Artist in Residence for the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program at The Washington National Opera during the 2015-2016 season and also at The Wolf Trap Opera Company during their summer of 2016 season.
The 2016-2017 season began with Mr. Held singing the title role in “Bluebeard’s Castle” with the Portland Symphony Orchestra. He returned to the Vienna State Opera to sing Jochanaan (“Salome”) and to the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona for Orest (“Elektra”). Mr. Held appeared in two concerts of opera highlights with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and as Pizarro (“Leonore”) with the Washington Concert Opera. He also sang the title role in concert performances of “Der Fliegende Holländer” with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro David Robertson. To close the season, Mr. Held returned to Vienna to sing, once again to Orest and served as Master Clinician and soloist (as Wotan in a concert of “Die Walküre”, Act 3) with Christine Brewer at the Miami Music Festival.
Mr. Held has established a close relationship with the Canadian Opera. In the 2013-2014 season, he was the recipient of the Dora Mavor Moore award (“Outstanding Male Performance) presented by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts. In the 2015-2016 season, the COC production of “Siegfried”, also won this prestigious award. Mr. Held played the role of Wotan/Wanderer in this highly acclaimed run of performances.
Mr. Held sang the role of Don Pizzaro for the 2003 EMI Classics recording of Beethoven’s “Fidelio” with The Berlin Philharmonic under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle. Mr. Held can be seen in the title role on the 2005 Harmonia Mundi DVD recording of “Cardillac” from The Paris Opera lead by Kent Nagano. He appears as Donner on the 1990 Deutsche Grammaphone DVD recording of “Das Rheingold” from The Metropolitan Opera conducted by James Levine. Also from The Met, Mr. Held can be seen as Peter on the 2008 EMI DVD recording of Humperdink’s “Hansel and Gretel” staged by Richard Jones and conducted by Vladimir Jurowski. In September 2011, Orfeo Records released a live recording of “Rusalka” that was made at the Salzburg Festival in 2008 with Mr. Held, Piotr Beczala, Camilla Nylund and the Cleveland Orchestra under the baton of Franz Welser-Möst. A DVD recording from the 2011 Baden-Baden production of “Salome”, directed by Nikolaus Lehnhoff, was recently released on the Arthaus Musik label.
Office: B219 Duerksen Fine Arts Center