Jonathan Hays

copyright Jill Steinberg

Biography

In the 2016-2017 season, baritone Jonathan Hays will be heard on the stage of National Sawdust in Brooklyn, NY in the production An die fernen Geliebten: Monodramas by Beethoven and Jeremy Gill, he will join the Harrisburg Symphony for performances of Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem in D minor, and perform in recital with pianist Rachelle Jonck at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, where he is a member of the voice faculty. Recently, Mr. Hays has been heard as Reverend Gruffydd in the world premiere production of How Green Was My Valley by Roger Ames and Elizabeth Bassine at the Central City Opera, as the Narrator in the world premiere of Martin Bresnick’s and J.D. McClatchy's My Friend's Story at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas at Yale University, and in a performance of excerpts from World Enough and Time by Robert Pound and Carol Ann Johnston at the Phillips Museum of Art in Lancaster, PA.

Renowned as an interpreter of contemporary music, Hays has been involved in the creation and performance of many new operas and song cycles. He essayed the role of Shadow Grendel in Julie Taymor and Eliot Goldenthal’s Grendel for a co-production with the Los Angeles Opera and Lincoln Center Festival, he originated the role of Isaiah Berlin in Mel Marvin and Jonathan Levi’s Guest from the Future for Bard’s Summerscape Festival, and he was a Texas Ranger in the world premiere production of Jean-Michel Damase’s Ochelata’s Wedding for the OK Mozart Festival. In recital, he has performed The Wound Dresser by John Adams with pianist Jennifer Blyth at Dickinson College, Helian by Jeremy Gill with the composer at the piano for Music with a View (NYC), Delaware County Community College, and Susquehanna University, and the world premiere of Robert Pound’s Muldoon and Heaney songs for the Stellfox Foundation. In 2011, Hays was presented with the Big Easy Foundation’s award for Best Performance of New Classical Music for his duet recital with soprano JeAnne Moniz Swinley, An Unquiet Spirit: Madams, Madmen, and Other Unsavory Characters.

An artist with a growing discography, Hays recorded Robert Pound’s Stellfox songs in August of 2016 for release on compact disc. His recording of Jeremy Gill’s Helian for Albany Records ranked fourth on Philadelphia City Paper’s list of Top 10 Classical Albums of 2011. In a review of the recording for Fanfare Magazine, Peter Burwasser said, “Jonathan Hays conveys the words, not just the music, with intelligence and careful diction, not to mention a splendidly lush baritone.” Hays’s Avery Fisher Hall performance of Henry Cowell’s Atlantis with the American Symphony Orchestra is available on iTunes and emusic.com.

No stranger to the standard repertory, Hays has been hailed by Opera Magazine for his “commanding authority” and “sheer vocal excellence” in the Mozart repertoire. He has sung Don Giovanni with Cape Town Opera, Bel Canto at Caramoor, Syracuse Opera, and Chattanooga Opera; Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro with Greensboro Opera, Cape Town Opera, Bel Canto at Caramoor, Opera Roanoke, and the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra; Papageno in Die Zauberflöte with Portland Opera, Central City Opera, and Connecticut Opera; and Guglielmo in Così fan tutte with Bel Canto at Caramoor, Eugene Opera, Yale Opera, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Other notable performances include Achilla in Giulio Cesare with Washington National Opera, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore with Opera de la Colombia, Taddeo in L’italiana in Algeri with Central City Opera, Don Fernando in Fidelio and Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette with the Connecticut Grand Opera and Orchestra, Donner in Das Rheingold with the Eos Orchestra, and Fenice in Deidamia and Fernando in La gazza ladra for Bel Canto at Caramoor. Of this Caramoor performance, Paul Griffiths of The New York Times wrote, ‘In all his contributions, the nobility of his voice matched the nobility of his bearing and his singing was consistently strong, lucid, direct and bang on the note. His was a magnificent performance’.

Mr. Hays has performed in concert with the Orchestra of St. Luke's, American Symphony Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Boston Musica Viva, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Alabama Symphony, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Harrisburg Symphony, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, among many others. He holds opera degrees from the Yale School of Music (M.M.) and the Hartt School of Music (B.M.), and he serves on the voice faculty of Dickinson College as Visiting Instructor in Voice for 2015-2017. He has previously taught on the faculties of Susquehanna University and Brooklyn College and Conservatory of Music.


Reviews

Helian - Albany Records

Jonathan Hays conveys the words, not just the music, with intelligence and careful diction, not to mention a splendidly lush baritone.

Peter Burwasser, Fanfare Magazine


Glass Hammer - Long Leaf Opera Festival

The singer is crucial here, not merely for beauty of voice and clarity of text, but for the individualization of the characters. Here, the experienced opera singer Jonathan Hays confidently supplied everything that was necessary for success. His full, mellow baritone ranged from the softest half voice to the grandest thundering outburst, while his acting of the bellowing father, the admonishing mother, the elderly grandmother, and the innocent kid brother was detailed and nuanced.

Roy C. Dicks, Classical Voice of North Carolina

From Broadway to Gorky Street - Bard Music Festival

Baritone Jonathan Hays showed the very best of the classically trained singer with an intuitive grasp of Broadway style.

Michael Miller, Berkshire Review for the Arts

Die Zauberflöte - Portland Opera

"Our favorite was Papageno the bird catcher in a coat that appeared to be molting. Jonathan Hays performed the part like a fumbling Hugh Grant --- endearing and adorable -- so that when he turned his spy glass on the audience in search of girl friend material, women were actually primping.

Vivian McInerny, The Oregonian

 

La Gazza Ladra - The Caramoor Festival

"The nobility of his voice matched the nobility of his bearing and his singing was consistently strong, lucid, direct and bang on the note.  His was a magnificent performance"

Paul Griffiths, The New York Times

 

Le Nozze di Figaro - Cape Town Opera

"The two male leads, Robert Gierlach (Figaro) from Warsaw and Jonathan Hays (Count Almaviva) from America, were the undoubted stars of the evening.  Commanding authority, sheer vocal excellence and good looks sum up both their contributions nicely.

Opera Magazine

“Jonathan Hays was a suitably self-absorbed creature, a youngish aristocrat not yet outgrown a pampered background. He has a lovely baritone, nicely placed and warmly resonant but capable of taut edginess, as in the declamatory third act Vedro Mentr'io sospiro.” 

Cape Times

“American Jonathan Hays as Count Almaviva gave a strong and many-faceted performance. His singing and acting grew more imposing as the opera progressed. His beautiful voice is well-honed and his singing reflects intelligence and musicality.”

Die Burger

Don Giovanni - Cape Town Opera

"A young cast for Don Giovanni, headed by the dashing 28-year-old American baritone Jonathan Hays as the lecherous Don … brought a fresh vitality to a revival of the 10-year old production…Hays, with his steely jaw and glinting eye was a real ladies' man, a charmer who could also be brutally callous."

Opera Now

Carmina Burana - Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra  

“Baritone Jonathan Hays sang of the revitalized earth in a gentle, warm voice that echoed the text about a warming sun. In the 'Tavern' section, he executed with calm assurance passages that challenged his full range… Singing unaccompanied as 'I am the abbot,' his voice was full and confident.”

The Times-Picayune 

Béatrice et Bénédict - Yale Opera

"Energetically played by Jonathan Hays, Somarone was the hightlight of Wednesday's performance, barging thorugh the orchestra and harrassing the conductor."

Alex Ross, The New York Times 

Albert Herring - Yale Opera
“Commendable diction from a fine voice also distinguished baritone Jonathan Hays’ strong performance as the reticent but complaisant vicar, another well-studied and complete realization of a difficult role and in marked contrast to Hays’ previous bravura performances at Yale.”

New Haven Register