August 12, 2021

Spotlight on Joshua Hopkins

Canadian baritone Joshua Hopkins is a man of many voices master of Mozart, bel canto, French repertoire, and exceedingly challenging contemporary works. Effortlessly adapting his velvety instrument to the demands of every style he takes on, he invariably impresses not just with his voice and the terrific technique behind it, but also probing, thoughtful interpretations that mark him as one of today’s truly outstanding artists.

Joshua Hopkins as Mercutio in Lyric's 2015/16 production of Romeo and Juliet. 

Lyric audiences first encountered Hopkins in Weinberg’s The Passenger (2014/15), in which the baritone’s exquisitely sensitive singing and acting were among the greatest strengths of that devastatingly moving production. His next Lyric role could hardly have been more different: the witty Mercutio in Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet (2015/16), which featured Hopkins’s dazzlingly virtuosic performance of the famous “Ballad of Queen Mab.” A particularly outstanding cast for Così fan tutte (2018/19) included Hopkins — a prominent Mozart interpreter throughout North America  as a vibrant Guglielmo, irresistibly seductive in his duet with Marianne Crebassa’s enchanting Dorabella.

At Lyric, where Hopkins has already shown such remarkable versatility, it’s a delightfully comic role that will mark his return to the company in 2021/22. He’ll portray the incorrigibly boastful sergeant Belcore in Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love, a wonderful vehicle for both his elegant bel canto style and his vibrant stage presence.

(From left to right) Amanda Majeski, Daveda Karinas, and Joshua Hopkins all starred in Weinberg's The Passenger during Lyric's 2014/15 Season. 

Nearly all the major lyric-baritone roles in the standard repertoire have figured prominently in Hopkins’s career. He’s particularly closely associated with Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro (Glyndebourne, Verbier, Dallas, Houston, Washington), Papageno in The Magic Flute (Toronto, Washington, Santa Fe, Vancouver, Ottawa, Phoenix), and Figaro in The Barber of Seville (Toronto, Vancouver, Kansas City, Oslo, Ottawa). And he’s also attracted attention as Valentin in Faust in Washington, as Marcello in La bohème in Toronto and Houston, and as both Ping in Turandot (company debut) and Mercutio at the Met. Opposite the Maria of Joyce DiDonato, Hopkins scored a great success as Cecil in the Met premiere of Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, a portrayal seen internationally through the Met's digital streams.

Hopkins is exceptional in his devotion to contemporary-opera roles. Besides Weinberg’s Tadeusz, he’s been heard in the title role of Britten’s Billy Budd (Central City Opera), as Junior in Bernstein’s A Quiet Place (New York City Opera), and in roles for two important world premieres: Harry Bailey in Jake Heggie’s It’s a Wonderful Life (Houston Grand Opera, subsequently San Francisco Opera), and the leading role of Niccolò Machiavelli in Mohammed Fairouz and David Ignatius’s The New Prince (Dutch National Opera). 

Joshua Hopkins (left) and Andrew Stenson (right) delighted audiences in Mozart's Così fan tutte as Guglielmo and Ferrrando during Lyric's 2017/18 Season. 

Joshua Hopkins is widely regarded as one of today’s most prominent concert artists and recitalists. Many major orchestras have welcomed him as a guest artist, among them those of New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington, Cleveland, and Ottawa. His many acclaimed recital appearances include recent performances of an extraordinarily moving new work that he personally conceived and commissioned: Songs for Murdered Sisters—a collaboration between composer Jake Heggie and author Margaret Atwood, personally conceived by Hopkins in memory of his sister, Nathalie Warmerdam. Hopkins has sung it on tour at Stanford Live, Vocal Arts DC, and Toronto’s Koerner Hall in Toronto. He’s also recorded this work for a film produced by Houston Grand Opera. 

Hopkins is proudly Canadian, and audiences in Canada have experienced the full breadth of his artistry. Among his most important successes there came in 2019 with his return to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for concert performances of Massenet’s Thaïs, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis with the late Erin Wall in the title role. Hopkins sang the opera’s male lead, Athanaël, probably his most dramatic role to date. The performance — later released on CD — won the coveted 2021 JUNO Award for Best Classical Album: Vocal or Choral. For anyone who knows Hopkins as a singer of light Mozart roles, the performance will be a revelation, from an artist who never ceases to astonish his audience.

Joshua Hopkins can be heard in The Elixir of Love at Lyric on September 26 and 29 and October 2, 5, and 8. To order tickets: https://www.lyricopera.org/elixir

September 26 – October 8, 2021

The Elixir of Love

The Elixir of Love

No operatic hero is more endearing than Nemorino, who pines for the flirtatious Adina. She’s the owner of the town’s hotel, he’s her delightfully naive waiter. His only hope to win her is the “elixir” sold by the quack, Dr. Dulcamara — little does he know that it’s just Bordeaux wine! From start to finish we root for Nemorino, as Adina toys with him until she finally lets him know how she really feels. Elixir is opera’s most heartwarming comedy, filled with Donizetti’s delectable music that brings nonstop smiles.

Header: Joshua Hopkins in Lyric's 2014/15 Season production of Weinberg's The Passenger; Photo: Michael Brosilow

Other photos: Todd Rosenberg, Robert Kusel, Cory Weaver, Simon Pauly