The American bass-baritone, David Pittsinger, holds a Master’s degree in vocal performance from the Yale School of Music and was a recipient of the “Outstanding Alumnus Award” at his undergraduate alma mater, the University of Connecticut. Upon graduation, he became a member of the Merola Program at the San Francisco Opera.
David Pittsinger is renowned as a stage performer of the greatest distinction for his dramatic portrayals in the world’s major opera houses. Of his Helen Hayes Award-nominated performance as Emile de Becque in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific at the Kennedy Center, the Washington Times wrote: “His brilliant, knife-clean bass-baritone voice, impeccable enunciation - even with a French accent - and his authoritative, passionate delivery provide the perfect mix of romance, passion, and traditional masculine bravado. And his vocal delivery of ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ as well as the sorrowing ‘This Nearly Was Mine’ registers extraordinarily high on the three-hanky scale. His Emile is perhaps the definitive interpretation of this role in our time.”
David Pittsinger’s wide-ranging repertoire includes a special affinity for the virtuosic music of the Baroque. He has been lauded for his performances of Zoroastro in George Frideric Handel’s Orlando (Glimmerglass Opera under Bernard Labadie and at New York City Opera); as Cadmus and Somnus in David McVicar’s production of Semele at the Theatre des Champs-Elysées in Paris and opposite Cecilia Bartoli in Robert Carson’s production of Semele at Theater an der Wien under the baton of William Christie; as Atamante in Piero Cesti’s L’Argia at the Champs-Elysées and Lausanne conducted by René Jacobs; as Harapha in Samson with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra under Nicholas McGegan; as Seneca in Robert Carson’s production of L’incoronazione di Poppea at Theater an der Wien; and as Melisso in G.F. Handel’s Alcina at San Francisco Opera.
His elegant musicianship also puts him in high demand for challenging 20th and 21st century scores including the title role of Massenet’s Don Quichotte at the Klangbogen Festival in Vienna and the Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires; his Nick Shadow in Igor Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress has been seen in Paris (Champs-Elysées), Hamburg (a new production by Jürgen Flimm conducted by Ingo Metzmacher), Bordeaux, Lausanne, Cologne, Brussels and at the Wiener Festspiele; his Creon in I. Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex has been seen at the Teatro San Carlo di Napoli and on tour in Athens. He has also sung the Count in Schreker’s Der Ferne Klang at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie; Rev. Olin Blitch in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah at the Opera Company of Philadelphia and in Vancouver, and the Nemeses in Benjamin Britten's Death in Venice at Glimmerglass Opera. Also at Glimmerglass Opera, Pittsinger and his wife, soprano Patricia Schuman, sang the world premiere of A Blizzard at Marblehead Neck, an opera by Jeanine Tesori and Tony Kushner based on the marriage of Eugene O’Neill and Carlotta Monterey.
Of the repertoire of the 18th and 19th centuries, David Pittsinger has performed W.A. Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Opera Company of Philadelphia, New York City Opera, Florida Grand Opera and Opera Colorado; Don Alfonso in W.A. Mozart's Così fan tutte at the Opera Company of Philadelphia; Rodolfo in La Sonnambula for his debut at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo and a staged production of the Verdi's Requiem at English National Opera. Other roles include Selim in Il Turco in Italia (Paris, Brussels and the Teatro Colon), the four Villains in Les Contes d’Hoffmann (Opera Company of Philadelphia), the Comte des Grieux in Manon, the Speaker in W.A. Mozart's The Magic Flute (San Francisco Opera and the Metropolitan Opera), Count Almaviva in W.A. Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro (Portland Opera and Florida Grand Opera), Angelotti and Scarpia in Tosca (Metropolitan Opera and Florida Grand Opera, respectively), Cappellio in I Capuleti ed i Montecchi (Pittsburgh Opera), Colline in La Bohème (Metropolitan Opera), Publio in W.A. Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito, Mephistopheles in Charles Gounod’s Faust at Seattle Opera, l’Opéra de Montréal, Madison Opera, Calgary Opera, and the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. His dual portrayals of Mephistopheles earned him the “Artist of the Year” from the Pittsburgh public for both the Charles Gounod and Arrigo Boito operas.
David Pittsinger’s Helen Hayes Award-nominated performance as Emile de Becque in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific has been seen at the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center Theater, and on national tour with performances in Toronto, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Providence, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Spokane, and Costa Mesa, among other cities.
Orchestral engagements have included the Verdi's Requiem with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta; L.v. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 under Leonard Slatkin with the National Symphony Orchestra (including performances at Carnegie Hall) and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jiří Bělohlávek; Missa Solemnis with the Houston Symphony Orchestra under Hans Graf and with I Solisti Veneti; Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle with the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon, under the direction of Claudio Scimone; Messiah with the Houston Symphony Orchestra under Nicholas McGegan, the Baltimore Symphony and the National Symphony Orchestra; the Wiener Philharmoniker in performances of Frank Martin’s Golgotha; Berlioz’ Roméo et Juliette with l’Orchestre de Lille under Mark Elder, The Rake’s Progress with the West Deutsche Rundfunk, Maria Stuarda conducted by Richard Bonynge and L’Enfance du Christ with John Nelson - both with the National Orchestra Radio France; J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) with the Amsterdamse Bach Solisten, C. Gounod’s Mors et Vita under the baton of Michael Plasson, and the role of Alfonso in Lucrezia Borgia with VARA Radio at the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam (also recorded for Naxos). He has performed at major American summer festivals including Grant Park (Verdi’s Requiem) and Tanglewood (I. Stravinsky’s Pulcinella conducted by Robert Spano) and has sung Haydn’s Creation, J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) and Cantata BWV 82 (Ich habe genug) and Johannes Brahms Liebeslieder Walzer at the Bellingham Festival.
Operatic highlights of David Pittsinger’s recent seasons include appearances at the Metropolitan Opera in Bartlett Sher’s production Les Contes d’Hoffmann as Luther and Crespel under the batons of James Levine and Yves Abel, as well as Francis Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites as the Marquis de la Force conducted by Louis Langrée; his return to Portland Opera as Jochanaan in Salome in a production by Stephen Lawless and conducted by George Manahan; Francesca Zambello’s production of Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas at Los Angeles Opera and Washington National Opera, where he also sang Roy Disney in the American premiere of Philip Glass’ The Perfect American and the Speaker in a new production of The Magic Flute conducted by Philippe Auguin; his summer performances at the Glimmerglass Festival as King Arthur in Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot also directed by Francesca Zambello; and a reprise of his Helen Hayes Award-nominated performance as Emile de Becque in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific at the Riverside Theater in Vero Beach. His performance as Roy Disney in the world premiere of Philip Glass’ The Perfect American at the Teatro Real directed by Phelim McDermott was released on DVD by Opus Arte in 2013.
David Pittsinger’s recent orchestral engagements include: a concert staging of B. Britten's Peter Grimes with David Robertson and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, both in Saint Louis and at Carnegie Hall; Sergei Rachmaninov’s The Bells with the Houston Symphony Orchestra; I. Stravinsky’s Pulcinella and Haydn’s Missa in tempore belli with Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos and the Boston Symphony Orchestra; and the world premiere of Scott Eyerly’s Arlington Sons - composed for David Pittsinger and his son Richard, a boy soprano - with Leonard Slatkin and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, which was released on CD in 2014.
Following highly successful performances of the challenging role of Zoroastro in G.F. Handel's Orlando at Glimmerglass Opera conducted by Bernard Labadie, David Pittsinger began the 2003-2004 season as Olin Blitch in Carlisle Floyd's Susannah at the Opera Company of Philadelphia. He also made his debut with the Wiener Philharmoniker in performances of Frank Martin's Golgotha as well as singing his acclaimed Figaro there. He made returns to the Teatro Colón as Massenet's Don Quichotte and to Glimmerglass for a new production of B. Britten's Death in Venice. He also debuted with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra under Nicholas McGegan in G.F. Handel's Samson.
In the 2005-2006 season, David Pittsinger made his role debut as Escamillo in Georges Bizet's Carmen with the Opéra de Montpellier and repeated the role opposite Denyce Graves at Opera Colorado under Stephen Lord. He returned to the Opéra de Montreal in I. Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex and to Los Angeles Opera as Count Almaviva in W.A. Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. He sung his much-acclaimed Don Giovanni for his debut at Portland Opera and in a return to the Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires. He also toured Europe and recorded G.F. Handel's Messiah under René Jacobs.
In the 2007-2008 season, David Pittsinger made a return appearance with the Washington Concert Opera in Bellini’s I Puritani. He then reprised his celebrated Nick Shadow for the Theatre Champs-Elysées. His operatic season continued with his role debut as Scarpia in a return to Florida Grand Opera. This production was conducted by Stewart Robertson and directed by Catherine Malfitano. He also sang Cappellio in I Capuleti ed i Montecchi with the Pittsburgh Opera. He finished his season at Los Angeles Opera as Rambaldo in La Rondine under the direction of Marta Domingo. In concert, he sang G.F. Handel's Messiah in Milan under Sir Neville Marriner and made his Dallas Symphony Orchestra debut under Jiří Bělohlávek in L.v. Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 and Arnold Schoenberg's Survivor from Warsaw.
David Pittsinger began the 2008-2009 season as Emile de Becque in South Pacific at Lincoln Center Theater. He also appeared as Enobarbus in a Carnegie Hall concert performance of Antony and Cleopatra with New York City Opera, sang Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro with Florida Grand Opera, and made his Madison Opera debut as Mephistopheles in Faust.
David Pittsinger opened the 2009-2010 season of the Metropolitan Opera as Angelotti in a new Luc Bondy production of Tosca, conducted by James Levine, also broadcast live in high definition to movie theaters across the country. Other engagements at the Metropolitan Opera included the Speaker in Julie Taymor’s beloved production of Die Zauberflöte and the murdered king of Denmark in Hamlet (also part of the Met’s HD cinemacast series), conducted by Louis Langrée.At Theater an der Wien, he sang Seneca in Robert Carsen’s production of L’incoronazione di Poppea. After reprising his acclaimed portrayal of Emile de Becque in the national tour of South Pacific, he returned to the cast of the Tony Award®-winning Broadway revival at Lincoln Center Theater, directed by Bartlett Sher.
After spending the summer as Emile de Becque in the national tour of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific, David Pittsinger began the 2010-2011 season singing both Cadmus and Somnus opposite Cecilia Bartoli in Robert Carsen’s production of Semele, conducted by William Christie at Theater an der Wien. He also portrayed the title role of Don Giovanni at Florida Grand Opera, and returns to the national tour of South Pacific with performances at the Kennedy Center, as well as in Philadelphia, St. Louis, Providence, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Spokane, and Costa Mesa, among other cities.
The 2015-2016 season saw David Pittsinger in his role debut as Robert E. Lee and Edgar Ray Killen in a new production of Philip Glass’ Appomattox at Washington National Opera directed by Tazewell Thompson and conducted by Dante Santiago Anzolini. He also made role debuts this season as Fred Graham in Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, the title role in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd with Portland Opera, and Reverend Hale in Robert Ward’s Pulitzer Prize-winning operatic adaptation of The Crucible at the Glimmerglass Festival. He also returned to The Dallas Opera as the Comte des Grieux in Manon under the baton of Graeme Jenkins and to Pittsburgh Opera as Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress.
In the 2016-2017 season, David Pittsinger returns to The Metropolitan Opera to sing Le Bret in Francesca Zambello’s production of Franco Alfano’s Cyrano de Bergerac. He also reprises his celebrated assumption of Fred Graham in Kiss Me, Kate, directed by Lee Blakely at the Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, which he debuted at the Théâtre du Châtelet last season. Additional engagements include his role debut as Cervantes/Don Quixote in Mitch Leigh’s Man of La Mancha at the Ivoryton Playhouse. Concert work for the 2016-2017 season incla semi-staged production and recording of Leonard Bernstein’s A Quiet Place with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kent Nagano, L.v. Beethoven's Missa Solemnis with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra led by Juanjo Mena, G.F. Handel’s Messiah with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and a concert of American songs with the Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach, Florida.
David Pittsinger can be heard on the Grammy Award-winning Virgin Classics recording of Carlysle Floyd’s Susannah and in La Calisto by Cavalli on the Harmonia Mundi label. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and two children.