March 03, 2021

Spotlight on Christian Van Horn

American bass-baritone Christian Van Horn was first introduced to Lyric audiences as the King of Egypt in Verdi's Aïda during the 2004/05 Season. At the time, he was a member of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center Ensemble and would go on to perform roles in Tosca, Fidelio, Carmen, Der Rosenkavalier, and Rigoletto during his two years in the program. The talented singer joined the Ryan Opera Center shortly after winning a Sara Tucker Study Grant and taking first place at the 2003 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Christian Van Horn as Count Ceprano in Lyric's 2005/06 production of Verdi's Rigoletto.

He has returned to Lyric as a featured artist in nearly every subsequent season, racking up an impressive 17 roles under his belt. His first role after leaving the Ryan Opera Center was as Nourabad in Bizet's The Pearl Fishers during the 2008/09 Season. Audiences also saw him as Brander in Lyric's 2009/10 production of Berlioz's The Damnation of Faust, Raimondo in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, Crespel in Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann (both 2011/12), and Publio in Mozart's La clemenza di Tito in 2013/14. "The excellent bass-baritone Christian Van Horn etched another superb character portrait as Publio, captain of the Praetorian Guard, singing with sonorous depth and surprising agility for such a big voice" (Chicago Classical Review).

Christian Van Horn as Publio in Lyric's 2013/14 production of Mozart's La clemenza di Tito.

Between 2015 and 2018, Lyric audiences enjoyed a wide array of performances from Van Horn. The multi-talented artist appeared as Alidoro in Rossini's bel canto comedy La Cenerentola, Friar Laurence in Gounod's heartbreaking Roméo et Juliette, Escamillo in Bizet's hit-filled Carmen, Narbal in Berlioz's sweeping epic Les Troyens, and the devilish Méphistophélès in Gounod's Faust.

"Perhaps the true star of the show was Christian Van Horn as Méphistophélès. Dressed as a-19th century dandy, he deftly navigates somewhere between the role of buffo and villain to create a snappily sinister character. His rich, resonant bass riles the entire crowd in the Golden Calf aria and strikes fear into the hearts of men when intimidating Marguerite in church. His Satan is so devilishly likeable the audience is almost rooting for him to win Faust's eternal soul by the end of the show" (Chicagoland Musical Theatre).

Christian Van Horn as Méphistophélès in Lyric's 2017/18 production of Gounod's Faust.

In 2018, Van Horn joined an elite group as the third ever bass-baritone to win the coveted Richard Tucker Award. He has sung on many of the world's greatest stages and is a regular at San Francisco Opera as well as the Metropolitan Opera. He has appeared in 17 roles at San Francisco Opera since 2010, most recently as John Claggart in Britten's Billy Budd and Zoroastro in Handel's Orlando. At the Met, he recently made his role debut as Boito's Mefistofele, appeared as Colline/La bohème and Publio/La clemenza di Tito, and created the role of Julio in the American premiere of The Exterminating Angel by Thomas Adés.

Christian Van Horn sings the title role of Verdi's Attila in Lyric's virtual presentation of Attila Highlights in Concert: Explore More with Enrique Mazzola.

In the 2019/20 Season, Christian Van Horn returned to Lyric in Verdi’s Luisa Miller. “As Walter, bass-baritone Christian Van Horn’s voice, presence and sense of character was a model of the total package that today’s working operatic artist must achieve for continuing success” (NewCity). He returns to Verdi’s early work in the virtual concert Attila Highlights in Concert: Explore More with Enrique Mazzola in April 2021, performing the title role alongside Tamara Wilson/Odabella and fellow Ryan Opera Center alumni Matthew Polenzani/Foresto and Quinn Kelsey/Ezio. 

Follow Van Horn’s musical adventures on his Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram channels as well as through his podcast, The CVH Podcast, streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and on his website.

Header photo: Christian Van Horn performs Escamillio's iconic "Toreador Song" in Lyric's 2016/17 production of Bizet's Carmen. Credit: Lyric Opera of Chicago

All other photos: Kyle Flubacker, Robert Kusel, Todd Rosenberg, Cory Weaver