Jonathan Hays

copyright Jill Steinberg


American baritone Jonathan Hays performs modern and standard operatic and concert repertoire both in the US and internationally. His singing has been called “strong, lucid, direct and bang on the note” (The New York Times).

In the 2019-2020 season, Mr. Hays will debut with the Piedmont Opera as Giorgio Talbot in Maria Stuarda, return to Syracuse Opera as Dr. Pangloss in Candide, and perform the monodrama Truth and Reconciliation (Mel Marvin/Jonathan Levi) with American Opera Projects at Opera America. In recital at Dickinson College, he will sing Robert Pound’s song cycle Orbit of the Soul about the imprisonment of Oscar Wilde, the recording of which was released by Roven Records and Naxos USA in October of 2018. Colin Clarke of Fanfare Magazine wrote of the recording: “The present performance with baritone seems to hold a particular pathos. Perhaps that is due to Jonathan Hays’s superb interpretation: Technical aspects such as diction and pitching are so superbly managed that one’s attention is fully focused on Pound’s narrative. This is a positively revelatory release” (Mar/Apr 2019). In concert, Mr. Hays will be heard in the Brahms Liebesliederwaltzer with Market Square Concerts in Harrisburg, PA as part of Stuart Malina’s 20th Anniversary celebration at the Harrisburg Symphony.

Recently, Mr. Hays has been heard as Donald in Billy Budd with Central City Opera, Sir Joseph Porter in HMS Pinafore and Maximilian in Candide with Anchorage Opera, Denis Krude in Crude Capital with Beth Morrison Projects, Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum in Threepenny Opera at Syracuse Opera, the Narrator in the world premiere of My Friend's Story at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, and as the protagonist in the monodrama An die fernen Geliebten at National Sawdust. He performed with pianist Jeremy Gill at the Museo Chiossione in Genoa, Italy with the Bogliasco Foundation and Associazione Culturale Pasquale Anfossi, as the baritone soloist in Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem in D minor with the Harrisburg Symphony, and with pianist David Friend at the Hartt School on the James Sellars Memorial Concert.

Highlights of previous seasons include the role of Shadow Grendel in the world premiere of Grendel in a co-production with Los Angeles Opera and the Lincoln Center Festival, and the title role of Isaiah Berlin in Guest from the Future at the Summerscape Festival. 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.

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, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, among many others. 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. Peter Burwasser of Fanfare Magazine wrote of the disc: “Jonathan Hays conveys the words, not just the music, with intelligence and careful diction, not to mention a splendidly lush baritone.” Also in 2011, Hays was presented with the Big Easy Foundation’s award for Best Performance of New Classical Music for his recital An Unquiet Spirit. His performance of Henry Cowell’s Atlantis with the American Symphony Orchestra is available on iTunes and He holds opera degrees from the Yale School of Music (M.M.) and the Hartt School of Music (B.M.). He is on the Voice Faculty of the Hartt School, and has served on the voice faculties of Dickinson College, Susquehanna University and Brooklyn College and Conservatory of Music.


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