Michael Kelly

Michael Kelly

With nearly two decades of experience as a performer, educator, and LGBTQ+ activist, American baritone Michael Kelly has led a versatile and multifaceted artistic career. In his performances, Michael has been praised as “expressive and dynamic” and “vocally splendid,” appearing with major international opera and orchestral companies in a wide-ranging repertoire of many styles and periods. He has performed at such illustrious venues as Carnegie Hall, Geffen Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, Wigmore Hall, with New York City Opera, Opernhaus Zürich, Opera Columbus, Santa Fe Opera, Theatre du Châtelet and with symphony orchestras across the US. He appears on two commercially released recordings of world premiere works by David del Tredici and Mohammed Fairouz, and will be heard on multiple recordings set to be released later this year.

Artist Bio

Praised as “expressive and dynamic” and “vocally splendid”, American baritone Michael Kelly is sought-after for his riveting interpretations of recital, concert and operatic repertoire.

Mr. Kelly has recently performed at Santa Fe Opera, Carnegie Hall, with New York City Opera, the New World Symphony, Seattle Symphony and the Cincinnati May Festival. He performed Bernstein’s Mass with the Mostly Mozart Festival under the baton of Louis Langrée, and gave the world premier of a new chamber work by David Del Treidici at NYC’s Symphony Space. In recent seasons he has been heard in Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin with celebrated guitarist David Leisner, The role of Hannah Before in Kaminsky’s As One, the role of Figaro in The Barber of Seville, Papageno in Mozart’s Magic Flute, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, and the title role in the NY premier of Carlyle Floyd’s newest opera Prince of Players

An avid interpreter and supporter of new music, he has given world premieres by Matthew Aucoin, David Del Tredici, Mohammed Fairouz, John Gover, Laura Kaminsky, Ben Moore, Tobias Picker among others.  Kelly is a passionate recital and chamber music interpreter, and was a founder and artistic director of NY’s SongFusion and the Room to Breathe concert series. He can be heard on multiple recordings as well as a documentary called Secret Music, celebrating the life and compositions of David Del Tredici.

Captivating audiences with his “exquisitely self-effacing” artistry, Mr. Kelly is a versatile and innovative vocalist, having performed with many of America’s leading orchestras and opera companies, including: The Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Houston Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, The Mostly Mozart Festival, Opernhaus Zurich, Chicago Opera Theater, Gotham Chamber Opera, Mark Morris Dance Group, Boston Early Music Festival and Ars Lyrica. His repertoire ranges from baroque to modern, leading him to collaborate with some of today’s most celebrated composers, including Matthew Aucoin, David Del Tredici, Mohammed Fairouz, John Glover, Ricky Ian Gordon, Martin Hennessy, Laura Kaminsky, Libby Larsen, David T. Little, Lowell Liebermann, Ben Moore, John Musto, David Sisco and David Wolfson. He made his European debut with Opernhaus Zürich in Handel’s Rinaldo with William Christie and his French debut with Opéra du Châtelet. He has performed in opera, chamber and symphonic works under the batons of such conductors as Herbert Blomstedt, Michael Christie, Andreas Delfs, Jane Glover, Benton Hess, Louis Langrée, James Levine, Anne Manson, Nicholas McGegan, Steven Osgood, Leonard Slatkin, and Stephen Stubbs. Michael has also collaborated in recital with celebrated pianists David Fung, Kathleen Kelly, Malcolm Martineau, Shannon McGinnis, Spencer Myer, Jonathan Ware, Howard Watkins and Brian Zeger.

As writer, librettist and poet, Michael has collaborated on songs with John Glover and Ben Moore.  Upcoming projects include opera and song collaborations with Laura Kaminsky, Tobias Picker and Kamala Sankaram.

Mr. Kelly has won first prizes in 2013’s Poulenc Competition and 2011’s Joy in Singing. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and Juilliard, and was a member of the Opernstudio at Opernhaus Zürich. In 2018, NewMusicShelf released Michael’s curated baritone volume of their New Music Anthology; a collection of art songs by living composers. 


After Him – John Glover


Die schöne Müllerin with Michael Kelly & David Leisner – Schubert

“Is This What You Call Love” from Sondheim’s Passion

“My Funny Valentine”


"full command of the material" – Front Row Center

"The Pleasing Recollection" – "Kelly has full command of the material, from every wink of a shoulder to a dramatic high note, revealing a tenor-like sweetness at the top of this range, bolstered by the strength of his baritone center. With a simple turning of his back, a stroll around a chair to sit down again, or leaning on the piano, Kelly utilizes the whole space, refreshing the page with each intentional gesture."

"as mesmerizing as it was emotionally devastating" – Seen and Heard International

"Testaments", Brooklyn Art Song Society – "Baritone Michael Kelly’s performance of the Songs and Proverbs of William Blake was as mesmerizing as it was emotionally devastating. His voice dripped with irony as he sang Proverb II [...] and the combination of lightness and horror that he instilled into ‘The Chimney-Sweeper’ made the plight of the young lad heart-wrenching."

"his singing is sensational" – Talkin' Broadway

Kiss Me Kate, St. Petersburg Opera Company – "Michael Kelly plays Fred Graham and his singing is sensational ... His diction is superb, and he rattles off the Shakespearean dialogue ... with aplomb."

“a versatile baritone” – New York Classical Review

Prince of Players, Little Opera Theatre of New York – “As the title character, Michael Kelly showed a versatile baritone, first in scenes requiring him to portray a woman singing and later, a man … Kelly’s sensitive acting chops were impressive.”

“captures the fear and wonder of the character’s younger self” – Orlando Sentinel

As One, Opera Orlando – “Though the English libretto is projected, the singers’ diction is understandable without reading. Michael Kelly as “Hannah (Before)” captures the fear and wonder of the character’s younger self, while Elise Quagliata, as “Hannah (After),” has a more mature sensibility. Both find the moments of pain — and the moments of radiance.”