Two-time Grammy Award winning bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green makes his Chicago Philharmonic debut on October 14, 2023.
“From his first moment onward, Ryan Speedo Green’s booming bass was simply a revelation…it grabs you and holds your attention with its richness and size.” —Opera Wire
Chicago Philharmonic and Artistic Director & Principal Conductor Scott Speck are thrilled to welcome two-time Grammy Award winning bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. In an epoch-spanning concert performance, Green sings selections from opera and musical masterworks with Chicago’s most dynamic orchestra.
Green has established himself as one of the great bass-baritones in a generation, praised for his rich tone and commanding stage presence. He makes his leading role debut at the Metropolitan Opera this April in Terence Blanchard’s critically acclaimed Champion, and has made solo appearances with the New York Philharmonic, the Opéra national de Paris, and the LA Philharmonic. Green won his second Grammy Award for the role of Uncle Paul in Terence Blanchard’s groundbreaking Fire Shut Up in My Bones at the Met Opera in a performance Opera Wire praised as “simply a revelation”.
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About Ryan Speedo Green
Green is a quickly rising international opera star, esteemed for his rich bass-baritone voice and commanding stage presence. His recent accomplishments include:
- His second Grammy Award for his role as Uncle Paul in Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones, which opened the Metropolitan Opera’s 21-22 Season
- A house debut at Opéra national de Paris singing Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel
- His debut with the New York Philharmonic in the world premiere of Gathering Song by Courtney Bryan, a piece written for him
Another major accomplishment will be Green’s first-ever leading role at the Metropolitan Opera in April 2023, starring as young boxer Emille Griffith in Terence Blanchard’s 2019 opera Champion. The true story of Emile Griffith (1938–2013) is the inspiration for Terence Blanchard’s Champion, his first foray into opera after a wildly successful career as a jazz artist and composer of film scores. It’s his second opera at the Met after last season’s landmark presentation of Fire Shut Up in My Bones, which was the first opera by a Black composer in Met history. In the opera, his tale is told in flashback, opening on the elderly Griffith, portrayed bass-baritone Eric Owens, suffering from dementia in a nursing home on Long Island on the eve of a planned meeting with Benny Paret’s son. The story then moves back to the 1950s, when young Emile, sung by bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green, arrives in New York from his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands, hoping to establish a career in boxing, music, or, improbably, hat-making. The role was originally written for a baritone with a higher tessitura, but Blanchard re-wrote the music for Green’s deeper voice.
“With Speedo, it’s not just that he can produce big sound,” Blanchard says. “He has a way of expressing himself that’s compassionate, while still being powerful. I think the complexity in this role, what makes it hard, is that you have to be strong and powerful and still very vulnerable at the same time. That’s a hard thing for some people to pull off, but I know Speedo has the chops to do it.”
A native of Suffolk, Virginia, Green’s first experience with opera was at the age of 15, when his school took a field trip to New York City and the Metropolitan Opera. The opera he heard was Carmen, starring Denyce Graves in the title role. (The image to the right shows Green performing in Carmen at the Kennedy Center in 2022.)
“At that point in my life I thought opera was, like you know, for white people. And the lead character, the title role was a person who looked like me, was a person of color. It completely just shattered all my preconceptions of what I thought opera was…I fell in love with opera that day.” —Ryan Speedo Green
Since then, Green has graduated from Florida State University and the Hartt School of Music. At the age of 24, he entered a Metropolitan Opera competition for young singers and won against over one thousand other contestants. Now 37, Green’s career has come full circle, headlining concerts and operas around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera.
Ryan Speedo Green makes his debut with Chicago Philharmonic on October 14, 2023 at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. Tickets are now on sale and ready for purchase here.