The American bass-baritone, Eric Owens, began studying the piano at the age of 6 at the Settlement Music School. In junior high school his interest shifted to the oboe and at the age of 11 he began studying the oboe under Lloyd Shorter of the Delaware Symphony and at the Settlement Music School with English-horn player Louis Rosenblatt of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He later continued his oboe studies with Laura Ahlbeck, a second oboe in the Metropolitan Opera orchestra, while attending Central High School in Philadelphia. During his senior year at Central High, he entered the pre-college program at Temple University's Boyer College of Music where he began studying singing seriously with George Massey. He matriculated to Temple as a Freshman in 1989 and earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the school in 1993. He then entered the graduate voice program at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he became a pupil of voice teacher Armen Boyajian. Owens has been recognized with multiple honors, including the 2003 Marian Anderson Award, a 1999 ARIA award, and 2nd prize in the Plácido Domingo Operalia Competition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition.
After graduating with a Master's degree from Curtis, Eric Owens joined the young artist program at the Houston Grand Opera Studio where he made his debut as Ramfis in Aida. He sang with this opera company the roles of Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Mephistopheles in Faust, Frère Laurent in Charles Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, Angelotti in Tosca, and Aristotle Onassis in the world premiere of Jackie O. Since then his career has taken him to many of the most important opera houses in the world. He has a unique reputation as an esteemed interpreter of classic works and a champion of new music. Equally at home in orchestral, recital and opera performances, Owens brings his powerful poise, expansive voice and instinctive acting faculties to stages around the world.
Eric Owens’s career operatic highlights include his San Francisco Opera debut as Lodovico in Otello conducted by Donald Runnicles; his Royal Opera Covent Garden debut as Oroveso in Norma; Aida at Houston Grand Opera; Rigoletto, Los Angeles Opera debut as Ferrando in Il Trovatore and also La Bohème; the Metropolitan Opera debut as General Leslie Groves in Doctor Atomic; Die Zauberflöte for his Paris Opera (Bastille) debut; and Ariodante and L’Incoronazione di Poppea at the English National Opera. He sang Collatinus in a highly acclaimed Christopher Alden production of Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia at Glimmerglass Opera. In September 2010 he played Alberich in the Met's new production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen.
Eric Owens has created an uncommon niche for himself in the ever-growing body of contemporary opera works through his determined tackling of new and challenging roles. He received great critical acclaim for portraying the title role in the world premiere of Elliot Goldenthal’s Grendel with the Los Angeles Opera in 2006, and again at the Lincoln Center Festival, in a production directed and designed by Julie Taymor. Owens also enjoys a close association with John Adams, for whom he performed the role of General Leslie Groves in the world premiere of Doctor Atomic at the San Francisco Opera in 2005, and of the Storyteller in the world premiere of A Flowering Tree at Peter Sellars’s New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna and later with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. Owens made his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut under the baton of David Robertson in Adams’s Nativity oratorio El Niño.
Owens begins his 2013-2014 season in Berlin, performing J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle. After mentoring the next generation of opera stars at the American Singers' Opera Project at the Kennedy Center with friend and collaborator Renée Fleming, Owens will appear as Sarastro in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte at the Metropolitan Opera. He makes another role debut as Vodnik in Rusalka at Lyric Opera Chicago at the start of 2014. In the spring, he joins what director Peter Sellars calls his "dream cast" in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of George Frideric Handel’s Hercules as the title role alongside Alice Coote, David Daniels, and Richard Croft. 2013-2014 also sees a duo recital with soprano Susanna Phillips presented by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Throughout the season, Owens will bow as Alberich in the Deutsche Opera Berlin Der Ring des Nibelungen. The summer, Owens performs in the Wiener Staatsoper Der Ring des Nibelungen.
Eric Owens’ Aristotle Onassis in Jackie O with Houston Grand Opera Studio is available on the Argo label. He is featured on two Telarc recordings with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra: Mozart’s Requiem and scenes from Strauss’ Elektra and Die Frau ohne Schatten, both conducted by Donald Runnicles. Doctor Atomic was recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra on the Nonesuch label and received the 2012 Grammy for Best Opera Recording. He is also featured on the Nonesuch Records release of A Flowering Tree and in the CD "Great Strauss Scenes," (released: July 2010).
Eric Owens serves on the Board of Trustees of both the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and Astral Artistic Services.