Joel Sorensen

Joel Sorensen

Joel Sorensen is recognized as one of the finest tenors to specialize in character repertoire, regularly praised for the clarion quality of his voice and a superlative vocal technique that supports his consummate musicality and impeccable diction. He excels in German repertoire, performing internationally as Andres in Wozzeck and Mime in Der Ring des Nibelungen. The Independent (London) said, “Joel Sorensen, well known to both New York City and Metropolitan Opera audiences, is a beautifully expressive tenor, gifted at characterization, who made Mime rise above caricature to emerge as a surprisingly lyrical, put-upon creature.”

Artist Bio

Joel Sorensen is recognized as one of the finest tenors to specialize in character repertoire, regularly praised for the clarion quality of his voice and a superlative vocal technique that supports his consummate musicality and impeccable diction. He excels in German repertoire, performing internationally as Andres in Wozzeck and Mime in Der Ring des Nibelungen. The Independent (London) said, “Joel Sorensen, well known to both New York City and Metropolitan Opera audiences, is a beautifully expressive tenor, gifted at characterization, who made Mime rise above caricature to emerge as a surprisingly lyrical, put-upon creature.”

Most recently, Mr. Sorensen performed the role of Spoletta in Tosca with Opera San Antonio, Goro in Madama Butterfly with Nashville Opera and Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, Beppe in Pagliacci with Greensboro Opera, the Witch in Hansel and Gretel with San Diego Opera, and performed as a soloist in Greensboro Opera and Eastern Music Festival’s Send in the Clowns concert.  Engagements in 2020 and 2021 were to include returns to the Lyric Opera of Chicago for the Ring Cycle and Tosca as well as Herod in Salome for Opera San Jose and Mo. Trabuco in La forza del Destino with the Canadian Opera Company.  He will return to the Canadian Opera Company in 2023 for Tosca.

Also recently, he débuted with the Bard Music Festival as Bomeliy in The Tsar’s Bride; performed the role of Spoletta in Tosca with San Francisco Opera; performed as Pong in Turandot with San Diego Opera and San Francisco Opera; and joined the highly-anticipated San Francisco Opera production of Der Ring des Nibelungen. Other recent engagements include Dr. Caius in Falstaff with San Diego Opera, Spoletta in Tosca with Canadian Opera Company, and performances with San Francisco Opera of Incredible in Andrea Chénier and Vítek in Věc Makropulos.

A seasoned artist at The Metropolitan Opera, he has performed Goro in Madama Butterfly and Spoletta in a new production of Tosca. He first débuted at The Met in Samson et Dalila, followed by performances in several productions including Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte, Monsieur de Beausset in Prokofiev’s epic War and Peace, Valzacchi in Der Rosenkavalier, Goro in Madama Butterfly, Erster Jude in Salome, and Loge in Das Rheingold. From his performance as Andres/Cochenille/Pittichinaccio/Frantz in Les contes d’Hoffmann Opera News wrote “Joel Sorensen showed brilliant versatility in the four comic parts.”

With a formidable reputation on the West Coast, Joel is a house favorite at San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, and Los Angeles Opera. At San Francisco, he performed Pasquale Sciortino in La Ciociara, Balthasar Zorn in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Le médecin in Debussy’s La chute de la maison Usher, Elder Hayes in Susannah, Mr. Pease in the world première of Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne, Dr. Caius in Falstaff, Beppe in Pagliacci, Spoletta in Tosca, and two productions of Der Ring des Nibelungen. For San Diego Opera, he appeared as First Tempter/First Knight in Pizzetti’s Assassinio nella cattedrale, a contemporary operatic adaptation of T.S. Eliot’s play Murder in the Cathedral; Pong and Pang in Turandot; Tybalt in Roméo et Juliette; Valzacchi in Der Rosenkavalier; Andres in Wozzeck; Beppe in Pagliacci; and Rodriguez in Don Quichotte. With Los Angeles Opera, performances include Guidobald in Die Gezeichneten, Spoletta in Tosca, and Der Ring des Nibelungen.

Highlights from past seasons include Zorn in Die Meistersinger in his début with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, his début with Salzburg Landestheater as Andres in Wozzeck, Goro in Madama Butterfly with the Atlanta Opera, Herod in Salome at the Florentine Opera, Pedrillo in Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Atlanta Opera and Portland Opera, Mime in Das Rheingold in his U.K. début with the Longborough Festival Opera, and his Wagnerian début with the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh in performances of Jonathan Dove’s English-language reduction of The Ring Cycle.

Following his 1994 début as Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte with New York City Opera, Mr. Sorensen returned to the company for more than 200 performances in over two dozen productions including Madama Butterfly, Falstaff (Caius and Bardolfo), Attila, the Emmy Award-winning La traviata, La rondine, Turandot, Mefistofele, Il trittico, Salome, and Of Mice and Men. He was prominently featured in several new productions including Les contes d’Hoffmann, Borodin’s Prince Igor, Mayuzumi’s Kinkaku-ji, Jost Meier’s The Dreyfus Affair, Gottfried von Einem’s The Visit of the Old Lady, Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins, Charles Wuorinen’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories (world première), Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler, and Richard Danielpour’s Margaret Garner.

In concert, he appeared with the Utah Symphony in Stravinsky’s Renard; at Alice Tully Hall in a surrealist opéra bouffe by Francis Poulenc Les mamelles de Tirésias with Opéra Français de New York; with the National Symphony in Der Rosenkavalier at the Kennedy Center; at Avery Fisher Hall with the American Symphony Orchestra in Hindemith’s expressionist opera Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen and Kurt Weill’s Der Protagonist; and Carnegie Hall with Eve Queler’s Opera Orchestra of New York as Melot in Tristan und Isolde and Uldino in Attila. Mr. Sorensen can be heard on the EMI world-première release of Die Bürgschaft conducted by Julius Rudel, the Grammy Award-winning recording of The Ghosts of Versailles conducted by James Conlon, and the DVD release of Tosca from The Met.

Updated 4.29.21

Audio Samples

Audio Sample Goro in Puccini's Madama Butterfly

Press

"...sharp tongue and a ringing tenor range…” – CBC News

Of Mice and Men – “Joel Sorenson presents a wiry and twitchy Curly equipped with swishing riding crop, sharp tongue and a ringing tenor range…”

"...a voice bright as a diamond..." – Toledo Blade

Madama Butterfly – “Tenor Joel Sorensen portrayed Goro, the meddling, ambitious marriage broker, conveying a hyperactive energy with a voice bright as a diamond. His frantic machinations flash through the drama without blinding.”

"...a beautifully expressive tenor, gifted at characterization..." – The Independent (London)

Das Rheingold – “A splendid find amid this string case was Longborough’s new Mime…Joel Sorensen, well known to both New York City and Metropolitan Opera audiences, is a beautifully expressive tenor, gifted at characterization, who made Mime rise above caricature to emerge as a surprisingly lyrical, put-upon creature.”

"...brilliant versatility..." – Opera News

Les contes d’Hoffmann – “Tenor Joel Sorensen showed brilliant versatility in the four comic parts.”

"...exceptional vocal agility and physical athleticism..." – Willamette Week

Die Entführung aus dem Serail – “More fitting was Joel Sorensen in the role of Pedrillo, Belmonte’s servant. Sorensen also combined exceptional vocal agility and physical athleticism, especially when he executed a standing jump over the back of a couch and delivered Frisch zum Kampfe.”