Alan Held

“Alan Held was a sensational Jochanaan. His dark baritone, his enunciation, his muscularity and his acting were perfection.”...The Opera Critic

Washington National Opera Gala with Christine Goerke

“I had just seen Alan Held as the villainous Scarpia in Tosca.  Whatever sound the man makes, loud or soft, ferociously attacking or velvety melodious, he makes sound both authoritative and delivered with seeming effortlessness. How can a guy like Alan Held, who hails from Wichita, Kansas, become one the world’s most sought after baritone-basses and, singing in German, an expert of the Wagnerian canon?...Against a great starry night, he sang as the greatest king of the gods, “when night shrouds the earth” as if he were caressing every part of his creation (as he used to full effect those German vowels.) Nobody conveys text better in the opera world.”

DC Theater Scene

“Bass-Baritone Alan Held was at his best in Wolfran’s “O du mein holder Abendstern,” also from Tannhäuser. He combined a gloomy darkness of tone in the introduction and a honeyed legato in the main section, compressed in dynamic by radiant.”

Washington Classical Review


Washington National Opera: “Tosca”

“At the top of the list is Mr. Held, a WNO favorite and longtime Metropolitan Opera star bass-baritone, as Scarpia. Tall and imposing, Mr. Held clearly relishes his role as Puccini’s supervillain. An established Wagnerian, his crystal clear instruments burst through the massive orchestral and choral close of Act 1, dominating as well throughout Act 2.”

Washington Times

“Here, we have the ultimate Scarpia in baritone Alan Held, who performed the role in Washington National Opera’s 2011 production and elsewhere. Held brings a certain Wagnerian force to the part — which should be no surprise, since he was in “The Flying Dutchman” here and portrayed Wotan in WNO’s Ring Cycle.  There is nothing like a full-voiced and self-aware villain, especially in opera.”


“The greatest moment in this production appears at the end of Act I, a scene dominated by the evil but grandiose Scarpia, portrayed by Alan Held. With commanding presence and a rich baritone, Held  is both compelling and haunted as he sings of his lust for power and of Tosca’s ability to “turn my thoughts away from God.” As Scarpia sings this “Te Deum,” the church, through the magic of stagecraft, disappears and the entire backdrop behind him becomes a sinister black.”

Fairfax News

“Alan Held’s (Scarpia) rich and powerful baritone gifted the audience with a masterful Te deum.”---MD Theater Guide “This production was last seen on the Potomac in 2011 when Placido Domingo was still (arguably) affiliated with the Washington National Opera and conducted the work. It was very strong then and even had the brilliant Alan Held as the most evil of villains Scarpia. Held returns in the role and is even more chilling as he incarnates the phenomenon of the reptilian-brained leader to whom society has succumbed.”

DC Theater Scene


Washington National Opera: “Der Ring des Nibelungen”

“Nothing less than stunning.”

“Alan Held broke my heart as Wotan in Act III. The staging of Wotan’s monologue, in which he voices his intense frustration that he can’t find a hero who is able to do things that the gods can’t, while Brünnhilde stands in front of him so obviously about to say, “But what about me? I’m right here!” seemed so right that it’s permanently colored my understanding of the opera. Wotan’s Act II monologue is widely supposed to be very boring. But as sung by Held and enacted by Held and Goerke, with Auguin explaining everything musically in the pit, it was, quite simply, compelling theater. ...Alan Held’s Wotan is a complete performance: a fusion of singing and acting into a whole, rounded character portrayal that stays lodged in the mind and heart.”

Washington Post

“Alan Held returns in the role, giving much presence to this troubled Wotan, suggesting an irascible homeless man, but quickly shedding the persona when it suits, such as when he toys with Alberich as he guards the sleeping monster, Fafner. Held is, as always, a charismatic presence. Indeed, when he finally runs into Siegfried at the end of the opera, whether intended or not, he looks ten times the man in the way he moves and carries himself. He sings with assurance, surfing the dark and unsettled score in deftly sonorous tones.”

“The staging of the final scene of this Walküre came together with outstanding dramatic and musical commitment from all involved to present what is certainly the most emotionally intense Act III I have personally seen live— Followed up the unique sense of vocal drama he brought to Saturday’s Rheingold with a devastating portrait of Wotan in crisis. At the risk of stating the obvious, Wotan is not a good dad. He is fundamentally unable to conceive of his children as people separate from his own desires, yet they represent his only chance at redemptive human connection. Even when Wotan is cradling Siegmund’s lifeless body, a poignant gesture here, it is an act of self-pity as much as anything else. Where many singers play this as simple variations on “Wotan is gloomy,” Held takes it to the logical conclusion and gives us a truly appalling, viscerally unlikeable character. He matched this with a vocal performance of impressive stamina, delivering menacing authority in Wotan’s big scenes and as well as a constantly searching intelligence in quieter moments. Listening to his engaging, masterful reading of Wotan’s Act II monologue it’s hard to remember why this section has gained such notoriety as a slog. And after all the ruckus of Act II and the Act III opening, for the finale with Brunnhilde he seamlessly switched gears to give us exquisite piano singing in a “Der Augen leuchtendes Paar” that wrecked the audience.”


“Another star of the evening for me was Alan Held as Wotan. From a ruthless god in Das Rheingold he transitioned into a father torn between love and duty. His torment after killing his out-of-wedlock son is so genuine that I felt a lump swelling in my throat and I am far from sentimental. He was equally poignant in his farewell to Brünhilde. He displayed a profound understanding of Wotan's character and his dilemmas.”

“As Wotan, Bass-Baritone Alan Held was beyond perfection as he sang with an utter command of every note. Mr. Held’s sense of timing when singing long operatic passages was masterful –one moment he would sing in defiance and, then, very fluidly collapse in frustration and despair at the consequences of some of his decisions. Mr. Held’s stage time was extensive in this opera and he made the most of every moment onstage.”

Alan Held…led one of the best second acts, another place that the cycle can bog down dramatically, in recent memory.”


“We had already been introduced to Held as god Wotan and Bishop as his wife Fricka in Part I but with Goerke as Wotan’s favorite daughter, Brünnhilde, these three make a distinct and believable mogul family. You can’t take your eyes off them, and sometimes, they are giving off so much dramatic “information” it is hard to breathe. They move effortlessly not only between musical interchanges but moments of comedy as well as satisfying kick-ass drama--accomplished acting.”

“As Wotan, it is a delight once again to enjoy the considerable talent of bass-baritone Alan Held. A much younger Mr. Held told this reviewer many years ago that he would be taking a long road in his singing career, hoping to develop into a “helden baritone” (“heroic baritone”) who could master the almost superhuman difficulty of singing Wagnerian roles, particularly those of the Ring Cycle. It’s clear he reached that pinnacle, having held onto his dream for many years now. He appeared as Wotan in WNO’s original “Rheingold,” and has lost none of his edge. Better yet, his acting talents are considerable. He blends into Ms. Zambello’s revised concept of Wotan perfectly, interpreting the character as dominant, yes—as befits the king of the gods—yet mercurial and indecisive as well and, at times, not really very smart. We’ll see this Wotan again in “Walküre,” but we’re already off to a good start here.”

Communities Digital News—Terry Ponick

“That’s a lot of emotion for Wotan and Brünnhilde to carry. But in Monday’s performance of the opera, both Mr. Held and Ms. Goerke seemed to bring out the most from one another in both the depth and passion of their characterizations as well as in their singing, which, in that fiery finale, soared above the impossibly high peaks of Valhalla itself. Mr. Held—mercurial, highly emotional singing in the final act achieved the pinnacle of musical art during Monday’s performance.”

Communities Digital News—Terry Ponick

“Alan Held’s intimidating baritone is an ideal vehicle for his maniacally confident Wotan, easily cutting through the orchestra with vivid attention to the text…this is a profoundly satisfying marriage of voice and character. Wotan’s great moment of disillusionment after he relinquishes the ring is shattering in Held’s portrayal—an agonizing first brush with self-doubt for the cocky deity.”


“Alan Held’s (Wotan) bass baritone voice was a powerful instrument only growing in size and strength with each scene.”

MD Theater Guide

“As Wotan, the god who must obtain the gold from Alberich if he is to free Freia,
Alan Held is utterly in his element, mixing godlike certainty with a more recognizable fallibility. A commanding presence, he sings with handsomely expressive tone.”

“The act comes alive in the Wager Scene where a “Wanderer,” (Alan Held as a disguised Wotan,) enters and challenges Mime. These two singers build the momentum nicely where each gets to ask the other three questions but, if unanswered, risk forfeiting his head. David Cangelosi as Mime was in great voice Wednesday night and, working with Held, together they created some moments that crackled delightfully. The fussy stage business these two were given moved the acting style into questionable naturalism, but mostly they succeeded with effecting and comic ease. Held’s Wanderer, with long stringy hair, a head bandana, and an assemblage of rags, reminded me of a homeless Vietnam Vet. (Sadly, an all too familiar picture in our nation’s capital.) Held makes himself at home in Mime’s junkyard, throwing himself into a folding plastic lawn-chair, popping a tab, and swilling down a PBR. (He later goes into the trailer and finds Siegfried’s stash of better beer and trades up.) Little details like this remind me again what consummate acting we are watching in this production. Also, what time has been given to creating “texture” by Zambello’s directing! When the Wanderer enters via the catwalk to descend into the bowels of this godless place, we suspect we are in for some high-voltage drama, and Held and Hawkins do not disappoint. One moment they have us believe they are schoolboy pranksters, trying to scare each other, as Held cracks open the huge warehouse doors at the back of the stage and calls out for Fafner, and they both run and stick their heads in the opening. In another moment, their power struggle explodes, and Alberich holds a Molotov cocktail to the Wanderer and lights a match. I believe these two are dangerous performers. Zambello doesn’t back off from grounding the work in what is one of the most beautiful and emotional scenes we’ve been treated to thus far in three operas, the meeting between Wotan and Erda. Zambello insists dramatically that theirs is a serious relationship and central to our understanding the great arc of the tetralogy. Wotan and Erda rarely touch in most productions, but Amman and Held hold each other tenderly, weep together for the mistakes that have been made, and ache for the nearing finale. At the end, their bodies are sensually entwined like two great branches of a mighty tree. Wotan finally releases her, and Erda sinks back into the earth. Then, to wring out our hearts further, Wotan and Siegfried finally meet on the hero’s way to the mountaintop where he will learn fear and claim his love. Zambello has not left any relationship unexcavated, and in this meeting father and grandson interact with such truth about human emotions it leaves the audience breathless. Held pushes beyond the usual omniscience of Wotan’s character to struggle moment to moment with his expectations, his anger, and his hopes. He clasps the arrogant, disrespectful boy, and the sudden love he feels for the child he’s never before touched knocks him off balance. How to turn back and change everything that has ever happened?  When Siegfried finally breaks the old man’s spear, we watch the elemental archetypal battle between father and son played out. Wotan leaves, heartbroken and bowing to the inevitable.”

“Alan Held’s Bass-Baritone shone effectively as he portrayed the God Wotan as a Wandering character who appears at important intervals throughout the opera. Held’s singing as he played a game of wit by posing and answering riddles was intriguingly conveyed. Held’s rich vocal tones were also effectively employed as he engaged in mutual taunting with Alberich (Gordon Hawkins) in Act Two.”

“Alan Held brought his masterful portrayal of Wotan to an end with a volatile vision of the Wanderer, one moment the old tramp cracking a beer and disarming the other characters with drop-out mellowness, the next bitterly lashing out. The Act I encounter with Mime and especially the Act II encounter with Alberich, both of which can drag in the wrong hands, benefited substantially from Held’s continued commitment to finding the dramatic through line in Wotan’s dialogue.”—Parterre “Alan Held, the bass-baritone playing Wotan, says that he has had a 37-year relationship with Wagner. This personal familiarity shows in the depth of emotion he brings to the role, which help to illuminate the hopeless ennui lying underneath the gods' immortality. Bound by the rules and laws of his own creation, the god himself becomes a puppet to forces and desires that he can no longer control”

The Weekly Standard


Canadian opera Company: “Siegfried”

“When I heard Alan Held as Kurwenal a couple of years ago, I thought that I’d like to hear his Wotan and he did not disappoint, pouring out reams of bronzed, ringing tone as Der Wanderer. imposing performance, both vocally and physically.”

“As the Wanderer, Alan Held was an imposing sight, matching well with his clear, booming sound. He was a calm, collected foil to the agitated dwarves or the ...Wagner's music sits in the sweetest spot of Held's voice.”

“Musically, it was one of the finest evenings at the COC in recent memory...American bass-baritone Alan Held, a frequent COC guest artist, gave us a beautifully sung Wanderer, with plenty of gravitas but also vulnerability and eventual resignation in his Act 3 encounters with Erda and Siegfried.”

“It’s great to see Alan Held back, this time giving a definitive performance as The Wanderer.”


Miami Music Festival Wagner Concert, “Die Walküre”, Act 2

“Appropriately enough for his role as ruler of the gods, Held gave a performance that towered over the rest, his mastery of the role apparent in every word and gesture. Even in soft passages, his cavernous, intimidating voice exuded power, and in his threats to Brünnhilde or fury at himself, he achieved a level of force and authority rarely heard on South Florida’s stages. Even at moments when he was speaking more than singing, his articulation of the German words exuded meaning. Just hearing him snarl the name of the evil dwarf, Alberich, coming down hard on the first syllable, was worth it.”

South Florida Classical Review


Vienna State Opera: “Salome”

“Alan Held was a splendid opponent of Salome in the central third scene as Jochanaan. Furiously, his accusations, in a sort of wild trance, increased almost in a song of drunkenness and play drunkenness. The bass baritone, toughened by many of Wagner's battles, came with power above the orchestra, but could take back his instrument at the right moment in a mild Mezzavoce (“...Er ist in einem Nachen auf dem See von Galiläa...”). Then the curse came all the more shattering.---a complex representation of a complex personality!.”


Philadelphia Orchestra/Opera Philadelphia: “Salome”

“Never have I heard a voice resonate Verizon Hall like Mr. Held’s...the bass-baritone’s vocal passages gorgeously depict his character’s own inner-struggles with fate while his gorgeous tone cuts through to the back of the house.”

Philadelphia Magazine


“Alan Held was a sensational Jochanaan. His dark baritone, his enunciation, his muscularity and his acting were perfection.”

The Opera Critic

“A rock-solid bass-baritone of exceptional presence, and his every utterance conveyed grandeur and importance”

Philadelphia City Paper

“Alan Held's bass-baritone was plenty imposing for John the Baptist, with tone that's unusually pure and devoid of bluster.”

Philadelphia Inquirer

“Alan Held provided sonorous tones and wide-eyed mania as Jochanaan; a worthy and implacable figure in the midst of Herod's depraved court. The bass-baritone dominated the action from his first utterance, helped by the fact that the cistern in this stage design makes the prophet visible through most of the show. His long dialogue with Salome was the thrilling highlight of the opera's first half, crackling with tension as the confrontation grew in intensity. He did the opera in manacles, fighting against his captors the entire way.”


Canadian Opera Company: “Salome”

“As Jochanaan, baritone Alan Held, performs with commanding presence, booming, bassy and full of scorn. Exceptional.”

Opera Going Toronto

Washigton Concert Opera: “Leonore”

Held’s typical intelligence and textual precision made for an unusually engaging Pizarro.

Cleveland Orchestra: “The Cunning Litle Vixen”

“Bass-baritone, Alan Held sang the Forester to perfection. His final scene was filled with the kind of humanity Janáček must have envisioned.”

Opera News

“The sound of the powerful bass-baritone of Alan Held, who is among the most sought-after contemporary singers for the role of ‘Wotan’, was pure pleasure”


“Bass-baritone, Alan Held, was an exemplary personification of this ambivalent interplay between mental rigidity and the tender qualities of the aging man to whom the young fox was revealed as the Little Vixen late in life, acting as a hymn of celebrating life.”

Luxemburger Wort

“Alan Held...flawless as The Forrester”

Wiener Zeitung

“The impeccable Alan Held”

Der Standard


Kronen Zeitung

“The ever-impressive bass-baritone Alan Held”

Cleveland Plain Dealer

“The bass-baritone Alan Held sang with rich tone and acute emotion as the Forester, who traps the Vixen and years later mourns her.”

New York Times

“Alan Held held sway as the Forester, fleshing out this human character using a range of emotions from mischievous to ultimately resigned to nature’s unstoppable cycles. Toward the end, as the Forester accepts his place in those cycles, Held’s vocal shadings were breathtaking.”

Seen and Heard

Bavarian State Opera: “Tristan und Isolde”

“Bass-baritone Alan Held also impressed as Kurwenal with his surprisingly large sound during his mocking first-act song. In the third act, he showed that he was capable of achingly sung quiet moments as well. “ “Alan Held was a thoughtful, dramatic, even at a times impetuous Kurwenal: all in character, impressive indeed.”


“A heroic Kurwenal”

Opera News


Cleveland Orchestra: “Tristan und Isolde”

“Alan Held was compelling as Tristan’s faithful aide, Kurwenal, making each phase he sang feel lively and spontaneous.”

Seen and Heard International

“American baritone, Alan Held, a famous Kurwenal...was as commanding and authoritative as ever.”


Canadian Opera Company: “Tristan und Isolde”

“Powerful and menacing as Tristan’s comrade, Kurwenal, with an immense stage presence.”

Globe and Mail

“A towering stage presence. His bass-baritone voice resonates magnificently and seemingly with little effort. He also has the natural charisma that projects beautifully on a stage.”

No Rules-No Lights

A commanding performer.”

NOW Magazine

Canadian Opera Company: “Peter Grimes”

“Alan Held was powerful and persuasive as Captain Balstrode”

Globe and Mail

“Alan Held has enormous power as the old salt Balstrode”---Toronto Star

Sydney Symphony Orchestra: “Peter Grimes”

“Held’s voice gave variegated grain and inner strength to the redoubtable decency and loyalty of Balstrode

Sydney Morning Herald


Metropolitan Opera: “Wozzeck”

“Starring in the title role was the American, Alan Held, who owns one of the most beautiful bass-baritones in the world. That voice is big, too, and exceptionally smooth. Fortunately, Mr. Held is also a skilled singing actor...”

NY Sun

Lyric Opera of Chicago: “Elektra”

“Alan Held has sung Orest all over the world, and the burly beauty of his high-testosterone bass-baritone demonstrated why from his initial phrases. His conspiratorial chemistry with Goerke was palpable, as was a disturbing suggestion of latent sexuality between the two.”

Opera News

“Baritone, Alan Held, makes an unusually haunted figure as Orest.”

Associated Press


Wall Street Journal


Vienna State Opera: “Elektra”

“For the first time we saw the American bass-baritone Alan Held in the role of Orest and, like Jochanaan in Salome, could look forward to his clear, technically perfect, beautiful sounding voice. He also impressed by the clarity that can be observed in many English-speaking singers. The compliment for the comprehensible pronunciation is fortunately for the entire ensemble - in this series the reading was superfluous.”

Online Merkur


Teatro di Liecu: “Elektra”

“Bass-baritone, Alan Held, as Orest left a great impression: sonorous, moving, and convincing.”

Seen and Heard International

“The Orest of the magnificent Alan Held, the presence and authority required for the role and its glorious minutes in captivating the lyrical recognition scene.”

In Fernem Land

“Magnificent, Alan Held”

El Pais


L’Opéra de Montréal: “Elektra”

“Bass-baritone, Alan Held, was extraordinary as Elektra’s believed-dead brother, Orest. I couldn’t get enough of his rich sound, and I loved what he did with the music between his lines.”


San Francisco Symphony Orchestra: “Bluebeard’s Castle”

“Bass-baritone Alan Held was a stentorian Bluebeard, singing with demonic power and precision.”

San Francisco Chronicle


Canadian Opera Company “Florentine Tragedy”/“Gianni Schicchi”

“The amazing American bass-baritone, Alan Held, who on his own is worth the price of admission…animal magnetism to burn and the kind of darkly ringing tones that sound like giant redwoods toppling during a forest fire.”

Toronto Star

“Held proves as nimble a comic actor as he is frightening in the earlier dramatic role, commanding the stage with his booming baritone and sending audiences off happy.”

Now Toronto

“Bass-baritone Alan Held’s Simone had an iron fist in his velvet glove, and was a commanding figure both vocally and dramatically…Returning for the second half of the COC’s double bill was Held, as Schicchi - making the transition from enraged cuckold to clever trickster with ease.”

Globe and Mail

“The star of both was the charismatic American bass- baritone Alan Held, singing Simone in “Florentine” and the title role in “Schicchi.” In the former, he’s a Bruce Willis- style cock-of-the-walk; in the latter, a Crocodile Dundee-style rogue. In both, his acting is as virile as his singing.”



Cleveland Orchestra Blossom Festival Wagner Concert

“Readily conveying the music’s sheer majesty and huge emotional impact…Through his voice, the God’s sentencing of his daughter to a flaming prison once again had its potent stirring effect…Held’s instrument was doubly convincing, notable for its breadth and definition. His reminiscences were heartbreaking. His summons of flames? Terrifying.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer

“A high-octane performance of Wotan’s music filled the vast outdoor spaces of The Blossom pavilion with streams of dramatic sound.”


Miami Music Festival: “Wagner Gala”

“Held did not disappoint as Wotan. He brought tremendous authority to the god’s every utterance and tamed his powerful instrument for an eloquently phrased “Wotan’s Farewell”. From the risers, Held summoned Loge to create fire around the sleeping Brünhilde with Ron Burns’ lighting basking the stage in red - an appropriately eye filling finale to a rewarding Wagner evening.”

Cincinnati May Festival : “Die Walküre” Act 3 final scene in concert and “Die Meistersinger” Final Scene

“Held’s majestic voice was a match for the trombones. He enthralled as he confronted his daughter with her transgressions, angrily spitting out the text. His emotion was palpable as he bid farewell to her, rushing to her side and delivering an embrace that brought her (soprano, Christine Goerke) and some in the audience to tears. Raising his arm dramatically, he boomed to Loge, the god of fire, to encircle her in a ring of fire. Held returned to sing Hans Sachs in the finale of “Die Meistersinger”, a gripping performance that gave weight to each word.”

Cincinnati Post