From: Calgary, Alberta, Canada. LA Opera: Sergeant in The Barber of Seville (2023, debut).
Praised as a "mature artist with a voluminous sound," baritone Joel Balzun is establishing himself as a mature new voice in the future of music. His multi-faceted career as both singer and composer has already led him to work with some of the world’s most respected musicians and ensembles. Highlights of his 2023/24 season include works of Mozart with San Luis Obispo Master Chorale and a recital with Cincinnati Song Initiative. Other recent performance highlights include Marcello in La Bohème with Pacific Opera Project, Giorgio Germont in La Traviata with Opera Santa Barbara, works of Ralph Vaughan Williams with San Luis Obispo Master Chorale and numerous recitals featuring Black Dog by Tom Cipullo throughout Southern California.
From Carnegie Hall to the Kennedy Center, Mr. Balzun has appeared successfully on both the operatic and concert stages. As a Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, Mr. Balzun sang alongside Stephanie Blythe in a concert of American song, and Dawn Upshaw and Sanford Sylvan in Shostakovich's brooding Symphony No. 14. Other past appearances include the title roles in Don Giovanni and Gianni Schicchi, the Four Villains in The Tales of Hoffmann, both Prince Yeletskiy and Count Tomsky in The Queen of Spades, Albert in Werther, Belcore in L'Elisir d'Amore, Dr. Malatesta in Don Pasquale, Valentin in Faust, Sid in Albert Herring and John Brooke in Mark Adamo’s Little Women, among others. On the concert stage, Mr. Balzun has been a featured soloist in Copland's Old American Songs, Dvořák’s Te Deum, Fauré's Requiem, Haydn's The Creation, Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, and numerous cantatas of Bach. His acclaimed performance of Bach's Johannes-Passion with the Rochester Bach Festival was recently broadcast multiple times across the United States.
An avid proponent of the music of living and contemporary composers, Mr. Balzun won critical acclaim for his portrayal of the titular Joseph de Rocher in the South Florida premiere of Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking with Miami Music Festival. He worked with the composer on this work, as well as the role of Charlie in excerpts from Three Decembers. He recently created the role of Ivan Brisilov in the world premiere of Stephanie Fleischmann and Peter Knell’s Arkhipov with Jacaranda, conducted by Daniela Candillari. On the concert stage, he has championed rarely-performed works such as George Rochberg's String Quartet No. 7, as well as Peter Maxwell Davies's virtuosic Eight Songs for a Mad King, and numerous performances of Robert Denham's Sutter Creek, among others. In 2021, Mr. Balzun launched Black Dog Commission, a new commissioning series for art song repertoire which openly discusses life with mental illness. Through this, Mr. Balzun has premiered a new work by Tom Cipullo and looks forward to premiering a new work by Dale Trumbore.
Learn more at JoelBalzun.com.