With a “powerful” voice and an “arresting stage presence”, baritone Michael Mayes enjoys a busy operatic career in both traditional and contemporary operatic roles with theaters throughout the United States and Europe. He is well known for his critically acclaimed portrayal of Joseph De Rocher in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking with multiple US theaters including Washington National Opera and made his debut in that same role with Teatro Real and the Barbican. Of his De Rocher, Opera News hailed “Michael Mayes, in his sixth production of the opera, embodied the conflicted character of Joseph De Rocher with an almost eerie intensity. . . this was a consummate performance, powerfully sung and acted”. Other Jake Heggie operas Mayes has performed include Manfred in Out of the Darkness with Music of Remembrance, Charlie in Three Decembers with UrbanArias, and the world premiere of Great Scott with Dallas Opera and San Diego Opera.
Mayes is known for his portrayals in other contemporary operas including Older Thompson in Glory Denied with Nashville Opera, Opera Memphis, and Fort Worth Opera, Lawrence in The Wreckers with Bard SummerScape, Adam in The Canticle of the Black Madonna with Anima Mundi Productions, Kinesias in Mark Adamo’s Lysistrata with Fort Worth Opera, Adam in Baden-Baden 1927 with Gotham Chamber Opera, and Edward Gaines in Margaret Garner opposite mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves with the Opera Company of Philadelphia and Opera Carolina.
Mr. Mayes moved into more dramatic repertoire in the 2017-2018 season, including Conte di Luna in Il trovatore with Central City Opera. Additionally, he joined Teatro Real in Madrid and the Barbican in London for Dead Man Walking, Beth Morrison Projects for REV23, Lyric Opera of Kansas City as Doug in Everest, Pittsburgh Opera as Starbuck in Moby Dick, and Atlanta Opera as Sweeney Todd. The 2018-2019 season includes Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Pittsburgh Opera, Alfio/Tonio in Cavalleria rusticana/Pagliacci with Madison Opera, Older Thomson in Glory Denied and Wozzeck with Des Moines Metro Opera, Conte di Luna in Il trovatore in his Seattle Opera debut, a reprise of his Dead Man Walking with Atlanta Opera, and the title role in Nixon in China in his debut with Oper Stuttgart.
Sam A Quiet Place
Escamillo La Tragédie de Carmen
Older Thompson Glory Denied
Edward Gaines Margaret Garner
Adam Canticle of the Black Madonna
Joseph De Rocher Dead Man Walking
Starbuck Moby Dick
Manfred Out of Darkeness
Wendell Swann Great Scott
Charlie Three Decembers
Father Hänsel und Gretel
Soldier Soldier Songs
Title role Don Giovanni
Papageno Die Zauberflöte
Count Almaviva Le nozze di Figaro
Guglielmo Così fan tutte
Marcello La bohème
Sharpless Madama Butterfly
Jack Rance La fanciulla del West
Marco Gianni Schicchi
Figaro Il barbiere di Siviglia
Dandini La Cenerentola
Lawrence The Wreckers
Beck Weathers/Doug Everest
Title role Rigoletto
Conte di Luna Il trovatore
Padre Guardiano La Forza del Destino
Michael Mayes was a revelation.
Michael Mayes’ Joseph de Rocher, whose craggy physicality and cringing bravura has all the sharp nooks and rough dramatic fissures of his namesake. Mayes’ baritone, by contrast, is molasses-smooth, and thickly poured through his Act Two aria.
But the strongest impact is made by the forceful baritone and hulking figure of Michael Mayes as the condemned man and Maria Zifchak as the pathetically dignified figure of his helpless hopeless mother. Even this sceptical critic was moved by the awkward poignancy of their farewell meeting.