Photo: Keoni Kitagawa
American tenor Brett Sprague began his fifth season as an Ensemble member at Theater Erfurt with an exciting slate of debuts. The 2023/2024 season began with Mr. Sprague portraying the tortured title character in Benjamin Britten's masterpiece, Peter Grimes. He then made his debut at the world famous Semperoper Dresden in the title role of Les contes d'Hoffmann by Offenbach. In Spring 2024, he will take on the role of Loge in Das Rheingold, the first chapter of Wagner's magnificent Ring Cycle, both in Erfurt and at the Croatian National Theater in Rijeka. Concert appearances include the Verdi Requiem in Erfurt, Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings with the Sinfonieorchester St. Gallen in Switzerland, and a recital featuring the compositions of Benjamin Britten.
The 2022/2023 season highlights included the world premiere of Nestor Taylor's opera Eleni, where he sang the role of renowned author and journalist Nicholas Gage, and the title role of Orestes in Felix Weingartner's rediscovered dramatic opera, last performed over 110 years ago. Orestes was a finalist for the 2023 International Opera Awards in the category of best rediscovered work. Other productions and concerts included, the role of Néoclès in Rossini's Le siège de Corinthe, ein junger Diener in Strauss's Elektra, and another performance of Carmina Burana, this time in Warsaw, Poland with the National Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Sprague also collaborated with Theater St. Gallen and composer Tobias Picker in the final workshop of the American composer's newest opera Lili Elbe.
In 2021/22, Mr. Sprague performed many of the operas delayed due to the pandemic, including Les Contes d'Hoffmann (Offenbach) in the title role of Hoffmann, the world premiere of Mio mein Mio (Leipold) in the role of Mios Vater, Manon Lescaut (Puccini) in the role of Edmondo, In the Penal Colony (Glass) in the role of the Visitor, "Die Rache der Fledermaus" (a new take on Johann Strauss's famous operetta) in the role of Alfred, and Nabucco (Verdi) as Ismaele. Other delayed performances include Mr. Sprague's debut of Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle with the Jena Philharmonie, the world premiere of Die Sünde Jesu by Leonid Guralnik, as well as two solo recitals in Erfurt.
The interrupted 2020/2021 season kicked off with a pair of pastiche pieces following the necessary COVID-19 guidelines for health and safety, the first called "Drunter und Drüber" inspired by the worldwide reaction to the Corona virus pandemic, the second was an evening of Mozart conceived using the composer's Der Schauspieldirektor. Taking place in the more intimate STUDIO.BOX in Erfurt, Mr. Sprague performed in the Saloonkonzert, an evening of Western cowboy inspired music. After the second German lockdown, Mr. Sprague returned to the stage in the role of King Charles VII in Orleanskaya deva (Tchaikovsky) for the DomStufen Festspiele in July 2021.
In 2019/2020 Mr. Sprague began his work in Germany with a new production of Der junge Lord (Henze) in the role of Lord Barrat with the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz in Munich, followed by a production of Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Mozart) performing Pedrillo with the Thüringer Schlossfestspiele. In August 2019, Mr. Sprague began as an ensemble member with Theater Erfurt, singing roles spanning the operatic repertoire, including Prinz Gwidon in Das Märchen vom Zaren Saltan (Rimsky-Korsakov), Hexe in Hänsel und Gretel (Humperdinck), Ernesto in Don Pasquale (Donizetti) as a jump in, and as a featured soloist in a summer concert series, Opera Gloriosa, in the DomStufen Festspiele. In addition to his operatic pursuits in Europe, Mr. Sprague is gaining acclaim for his performance as a concert soloist, most recently in Carmina Burana with the Tampere Filharmonia in November 2018 and the Gӧteborgs Symfoniker in April 2019, earning him praise from the critics in both cities. In celebration of the Thirty Year Anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down, he sang the solos in Beethoven's 9th Symphony in Erfurt.
Before moving to Europe in 2019, Mr. Sprague had been performing across the United States, often called upon for the creation and production of contemporary operas. Highlights include the world premiere of Happy Birthday Wanda June (Clark) singing Herb Shuttle and the American premiere of Mansfield Park (Dove) in the role of Henry Crawford with Indianapolis Opera, the workshop of The Scarlet Letter (Laitman) with Opera Colorado and the development of a new opera with OnSite Opera in New York. Additionally, he has performed Laurie in Little Women (Adamo) with Eugene Opera. He is also very comfortable with the classic repertoire, having performed many different roles spanning the gamut of musical periods and styles, including Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti) at Opera Colorado, and Antinoüs in Pénélope (Faure) with Vespertine Opera.
Mr. Sprague received his professional training as a resident artist at Opera Colorado during the 2014 and 2014/2015 seasons. Performance highlights include Tamino and Erster Geharnischter in Die Zauberflöte (Mozart), Don José and Remendado in Carmen (Bizet), and Borsa in Rigoletto (Verdi). He was also afforded the opportunity to cover the roles of Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly (Puccini) and Il Duca in Rigoletto (Verdi). He spent two summer seasons as a young artist with Chautauqua Opera. In 2015, as an apprentice artist, he performed the role of Malcolm and covered Macduff in Macbeth (Verdi) and covered Lensky in Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky), as well as performing multiple concerts with the Chautauqua Symphony. In 2013, as a studio artist, he performed Rector Adams in Peter Grimes (Britten). As a young artist at Ash Lawn Opera in 2014, he sang Little Bat in Susannah (Floyd). Mr. Sprague is originally from Tacoma, Washington and received his Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from Chapman University and his Master of Music degree in classical voice performance from Manhattan School of Music. He performed often on the stage at Manhattan School of Music, as Almaviva in Ghosts of Versailles (Corigliano), Ferrando in Così fan tutte (Mozart), and La voz en la fragua in La Vida Breve (de Falla). He has received awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the Seattle Opera Guild, the Anita Cerquetti Competition, the CareerBridges organization, and the Joan Taub Ades Vocal Competition at Manhattan School of Music.
At the beginning of the 2024/25 season, Mr. Sprague will join the ensemble at the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe.
2023-2024 Season PERFORMANCES
Composer: Benjamin Britten
Brett Sprague, soloist
Yuki Nishio, piano