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Professor of Voice

Director of Opera Studies

Area Coordinator, Voice 

Ann and Dennis Ross Faculty of Distinction in Opera

Well into his fourth decade 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 Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Colin Davis, Christoph von Dohnányi, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, James Levine, Charles Dutoit, Kirill Petrenko, 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 most recent season had Mr. Held returning to the Wiener Staatsoper to sing one of his most performed roles, Jochanaan (Salome). He also appeared with the Orchestre de Métropolitan in Fidelio under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Future performances are planned at Chautauqua Opera where he will appear as Baron Scarpia in Tosca as well as Daniel Webster in Virgil Thomson’s, The Mother of us All. Engagements at Chautauqua Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera also await.

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.

Recent recordings include the spectacular Marek Janowksi conducted CD of Weber’s Der Freischütz on the Pentatone label with the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra. 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 coaching sessions 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 became just the 3rd Director of Opera in over 50 years at WSU. He continues his active vocal career in addition to serving as a 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 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 2018-2019 season, a position he held as well during the 2015-2016 season. He also served as the Artist in Residence at The Wolf Trap Opera Company during their summer of 2016 season.

Mr. Held recently began his duties as music director for the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.