Alan Held

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 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 2018-2019 season has Mr. Held returning to the Washington National Opera as Scarpia in “Tosca”.  He has appeared with the company in nearly 25 productions in the past 31 years at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  He will also appear with the Hessische Rundfunks Sinfonieorchester in concert presentations of “Der Freischütz”.  The concerts will be recorded for a later release on the Pentatone label.  Mr. Held will appear in a special concert of highlights from Wagner Dramas at the Boston Wagner Society and as the bass soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Wichita Symphony.  He will also appear with Maestro David Robertson and The Sydney, Australia Symphony Orchestra in “Peter Grimes”.  Mr. Held will be serving as the Artist in Residence with the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program at the Washington National Opera during the 2018-2019 season.  

The 2017-2018 season began with Mr. Held appearing with The Cleveland Orchestra as part of their gala centennial season.  The orchestra reprised their highly acclaimed production of Janáček’s “The Cunning Little Vixen” with performances in Cleveland, Vienna, and Luxembourg.  Mr. Held also sang the opera with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in February, 2018.  He further participated in the Cleveland Orchestra 100th Anniversary Season in concert performances of “Tristan und Isolde” in April, 2018.  He returned to the Vienna Staatsoper to sing his acclaimed interpretation of Jockanaan in “Salome” and to sing, in a new production, the role of Caspar (role debut) in “Der Freischütz”.  In July, 2018, Mr. Held will sing a concert of highlights from “Der Ring des Niblungen” with Christine Goerke, Simon O’Neill, and Eric Owens at Wolf Trap with the National Symphony Orchestra.  

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.   

The 2015-2016 began with Mr. Held performing with the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra as the narrator in Schoenberg’s “A Survivor from Warsaw” and as the bass soloist in Beethoven’s “9th Symphony”.   He appeared as Orest in “Elektra” in Montreal under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin.  Mr. Held’s season then turned towards Wagner as he sang Wotan/Wanderer in “Siegfried” with the Canadian Opera Company. He continued his Wagnerian journey with three highly acclaimed complete cycles of “Der Ring des Nibelungen” with the Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center.   

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.  

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.   In 2017, Professor Held becomes just the 3rd Director of Opera at WSU.  He continues his active vocal career in addition to serving as an Associate Professor in the College 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 will return to the company in the same position for the 2018-2019 season.   He also served as the Artist in Residence at  The Wolf Trap Opera Company during their summer of 2016 season.


Office: B219, Duerksen Fine Arts Center
Phone: 316.978.6473