In the summer of 2014, baritone Jonathan Hays returned to Central City Opera to perform the role of Reverend Gruffydd in the world premiere production of How Green Was My Valley by Roger Ames. He will reprise the role in November with El Paso Opera, where he will also perform the role of Angelotti in Giocomo Puccini’s Tosca later in the season. This past spring, Hays joined tenor William Ferguson and pianist Craig Ketter on Dickinson College’s Stellfox Literary Award Concert for the world premiere of Robert Pound’s musical setting of poems by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon and Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney.
In 2013, Hays essayed the role of the Narrator in the world premiere of Martin Bresnick and J.D. McClatchy's My Friend's Story at Yale University for the International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, CT. He sang Carl Nielssen's Symphony No.3: Sinfonia Espansiva with the Harrisburg Symphony, Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the University of Memphis in Memphis, TN, and Mohammed Fairouz’s Anything Can Happen with the Dickinson College Choir and Orchestra in Carlisle, PA. Other recent orchestral engagements include Monteverdi’s Vespro della beata Vergine (1610) with the Dayton Symphony Orchestra and a return to Avery Fisher Hall in Henry Cowell’s Atlantis with the American Symphony Orchestra.
Hays’s performance of Cowell’s Atlantis was released on recording by the American Symphony Orchestra in October of 2011. His recording of Jeremy Gill’s German song cycle, Helian, ranked fourth on Philadelphia City Paper’s list of Top 10 Classical Albums of 2011. The Big Easy Foundation honored him with their 2011 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.
Renowned as an interpreter of contemporary music, Mr. Hays essayed the role of Shadow Grendel in the world premier of Grendel by Eliot Goldenthal and Julie Taymor with the Los Angeles Opera and Lincoln Center Festival, collaborated with Ned Rorem and New Music New Haven on Mr. Rorem’s Songs of Sadness, originated the role of Isiah Berlin in The Guest from the Future by Mel Marvin and Jonathan Levi at the Summerscape Festival, and performed multiple roles in the OK Mozart Festival’s world premiere production of Jean Michel Damase’s Ochelata’s Wedding. He performed with the American Symphony Orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall in two operas by Hindemith, Das Nush-Nushi and Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen, and bowed as Friedrich Bhaer in Mark Adamo’s Little Women with Dayton Opera.
Also acclaimed for his portrayal of roles in the standard repertory, Mr. Hays’ has sung principle roles in Don Giovanni (Don Giovanni), Le Nozze di Figaro (Count, Figaro), Die Zauberflöte (Papageno), Cosi Fan Tutte (Guglielmo), Das Rheingold (Donner), La Boheme (Marcello, Schaunard), L’Elisir d’Amore (Belcore), Giulio Cesare (Achilla), Deidamia (Fenice), L’Italiana in Algeri (Taddeo), La Cenerentola (Dandani), La Gazza Ladra (Fernando), I Pagliacci (Silvio), Fidelio (Fernando), Albert Herring (Sid, Vicar), Béatrice et Bénédict (Somarone), and others, with companies that include The Washington Opera, Central City Opera, The Lyric Opera of Kansas City, The Caramoor Festival, Connecticut Opera, Connecticut Grand Opera and Orchestra, Opera de la Colombia, Cape Town Opera, Syracuse Opera, Greensboro Opera Company, The Oklahoma Mozart Festival, The Utah Festival Opera Company, Eugene Opera, and Yale Opera.
After an acclaimed performance of Rossini’s La Gazza Ladra with the Caramoor Festival and the Orchestra of St. Lukes, Paul Griffiths of The New York Times wrote of his work, ‘…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 is on the voice faculties of Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA, and Brooklyn College and Conservatory of Music in Brooklyn, NY. He owns a production company that produces The Days of ’98 Show with Soapy Smith in Skagway, AK, a vaudeville style musical that has been running since 1923.