Mexican-American bass-baritone, Richard Ollarsaba, praised by The Washington Post for his “meltingly smooth bass-baritone” and for “evoking a young Ruggero Raimondi in looks and manner”, represented the USA in the 2019 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, was a member of the prestigious Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago for three seasons and a grand finalist in the 2013 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Upcoming engagements include New Zealand Opera’s national touring production of Le nozze di Figaro in the title role.
The 2019/20 season he debuted in the title of role of Don Giovanni with Opera Hong Kong (香港歌劇院), debuted with Kentucky Opera as Escamillo in their performances of Carmen, returned to perform Handel’s Messiah with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, made his home-state debut with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra in performances of Messiah, and was slated to debut at Dallas Opera in their performances of Stravinsky’s Pulcinella – those performances were cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.
While at the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, his tenure included productions of La Traviata, Capriccio, Anna Bolena, Tosca, The Passenger, Otello, Madama Butterfly, Parsifal and the title role in Don Giovanni, stepping into the iconic part with a few hours’ notice. Other operatic engagements include Escamillo in Carmen with Minnesota Opera, Tulsa Opera, North Carolina Opera, Annapolis Opera, Barharbor Music Festival, and Lyric Opera of Chicago (cover); Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor with Virginia Opera; Asdrubale in Rossini’s La pietra del paragone in addition to performances as Angelotti in Tosca, Luciano in Musto’s Bastianello, and Fallito in Gassmann’s L’opera seria with Wolf Trap Opera; Timur in Turandot and Rochefort in Anna Bolena with Minnesota Opera; Antonio in Le nozze di Figaro with Opera Cleveland; Pistola in Falstaff both in his debut with Opera Omaha and Intermountain Opera Bozeman. Ferrando in Il Trovatore with North Carolina Opera; Reverend John Hale in Ward’s The Crucible and Colline in La bohème with Piedmont Opera.
In addition to performances on the operatic stage, Mr. Ollarsaba appears regularly in concert and recital. He has been the bass soloist with the Mainly Mozart Festival in a rare performance of Mozart’s Thamos, König in Ägypten, Haydn’s Mass in Time of War with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Handel’s Messiah with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Kansas City Symphony, Bach’s St. John’s Passion with the Madison Bach Musicians, Dvorak’s Te Deum and Bach’s Mass in B-Minor with Apollo Chorus of Chicago, Bernstein’s Songfest at the Ravinia Festival, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Macon Symphony Orchestra and Master Chorale of South Florida, Verdi’s Requiem with the Salisbury Symphony, and Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy in his debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood. That concert was a gala celebration of the venerable festival’s 75th birthday and was telecast nationally on PBS.
A native of Tempe, Arizona, Richard Ollarsaba received his Bachelor of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music and his Master of Music and post-graduate certificate from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. In addition to the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, he trained at Minnesota Opera, Music Academy of the West, Chautauqua Opera, Aspen Music Festival, Tanglewood and Wolf Trap Opera.