June 28, 2021
Spotlight on Lucas Meachem
In the special streamed performance of Pagliacci, the role of Silvio is sung by American baritone Lucas Meachem, who’s been a great favorite at Lyric from the very beginning of his career.
Meachem thrives on the diversity of his repertoire. He’s sung at least 50 roles, running the gamut from Gluck and Mozart to contemporary opera, by way of Rossini, Wagner, Gounod, Massenet, Tchaikovsky, and Puccini. He lavishes on every role one of the finest baritone voices of his generation, along with the kind of charisma that lights up the stage.
The North Carolina native started out in the young-artist program at San Francisco Opera, and had only just finished in the program when he got his big break. And what a daunting challenge it was: singing opposite Susan Graham in one of the toughest lyric-baritone roles in the repertoire, the crazed Oreste in Gluck’s powerful drama Iphigénie en Tauride. The occasion was the 2006 Lyric premiere of this opera, and the company had lost its originally scheduled artist for the role at the eleventh hour. On Graham’s enthusiastic recommendation, Meachem got the role and scored an extraordinary, career-making triumph. His effortless singing, the authenticity of his French, and his stupendous theatrical flair brought an authority to his performance that astonished the audience.
There has been a lot of glory for Meachem on Lyric’s stage since then. He first returned to the company to sing and act a definitive portrayal of Valentin in Gounod's Faust (2009/10), wowing the audience at every performance with the character’s famous aria. Next were his ideally impetuous Demetrius in Britten's A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2010/11) and his warm-voiced, warm-hearted Marcello in Puccini's La bohème (2012/13). Meachem was one of the greatest strengths of the Lyric-premiere production of Berlioz's Les Troyens (2016/17); he played the noble Chorèbe opposite Christine Goerke’s scalding Cassandre — their chemistry in the big duet was thrilling.
Meachem’s versatility was never more evident than in the 2019/20 Season, and proved all the more remarkable because his first role of the season happened, once again, at the last moment: when the company’s leading man from the first series of Don Giovanni performances had to withdraw, Meachem assumed the role. He galvanized Robert Falls’s production with the dark charm and, in the opera’s finale, the hair-raising intensity of his Giovanni. Later in the season, he returned to Lyric to break all hearts as Prince Yeletsky in Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades, in which his soulful Act-Two aria stopped the show.
Meachem is in great demand with major opera companies internationally. He’s a star of London’s Royal Opera, Glyndebourne, Dresden’s Semperoper, the Opéra National de Paris. He’ll be back at LA Opera this fall to sing Wolfram in Tannhäuser, and his celebrated portrayal of Puccini’s Marcello will be heard at the Met and in Madrid. Next summer he’s due to return to London as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly. His signature role (eight companies internationally) has long been Rossini’s Figaro in The Barber of Seville, which brings him to The Dallas Opera next season. A contemporary-opera Figaro, in Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, was a major success for Meachem at LA Opera, and he won a Grammy Award for that production’s release on CD. He’s now easily able to alternate between lyric roles and heavier ones — witness his recent successes as Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet (his twelfth role in San Francisco), Germont in La traviata (Washington), and his most dramatic role yet, Athanaël in Thaïs (Minnesota Opera).
A singer who has everything an internationally celebrated opera star needs — an exceptional voice, top-flight musicality, impeccable style, and electrifying presence. Not for nothing has Lucas Meachem been called “the rock star of opera”!
You can see and hear Lucas Meachem as Silvio in Lyric’s streamed performance of Pagliacci. For more information, go to lyricopera.org/pagliacci.