Samuel Ramey

Wichita Grand Opera Samuel Ramey Headshot

Roles

  • Prince Yamadori - “Madama Butterfly”

Samuel Ramey holds the distinction of being the most recorded bass in history. His more than eighty recordings include complete operas, recordings of arias, symphonic works, solo recital programs, and popular crossover albums on every major label. His recordings have garnered nearly every major award including three Grammy Awards, Gran Prix du Disc Awards, and “Best of the Year” citations from journals including Stereo Review and Opera News. For more than three decades, Samuel Ramey has reigned as one of the music world’s foremost interpreters of bass and bass-baritone operatic and concert repertoire, with the Los Angeles Times going so far as to declare him “a national treasure.”

The unique expressiveness of the bass voice has inspired many composers to assign the portrayal of devils and villains to basses, and it is in this repertoire that Mr. Ramey has established a reputation unequaled in the musical world. Méphistophélès in Gounod’s “Faust” has become his most-performed role with over 200 performances in more than twenty productions. In 1992 Mr. Ramey sang all of Offenbach’s villains for the Metropolitan Opera’s opening night, prompting one critic to write, “[It was] the best interpretation of the four villains I can remember in the last 25 years. This is the stuff of which operatic legends are made.”

The combination of Samuel Ramey’s commanding vocalism, exceptional musicianship, elegant stage presence, and uncommon theatrical abilities has taken him to the stages of the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, Vienna Staatsoper, Opéra de Paris, Arena di Verona, Deutsche Oper Berlin, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Teatro la Fenice, Teatro Colon, and the operas of Munich, Hamburg, Geneva, Florence, Zürich and Amsterdam, among others. In concert, he has performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, La Scala Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, and the symphonies of Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and San Francisco.

Throughout his career, Mr. Ramey has worked with every major conductor including Claudio Abbado, the late Leonard Bernstein, James Conlon, Sir Colin Davis, Valery Gergiev, Bernard Haitink, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Muti, Kent Nagano, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Simon Rattle, Julius Rudel, the late Sir Georg Solti, and the late Herbert von Karajan.

A native of Colby, Kansas, Samuel Ramey was active in music throughout high school and college. In 1995 he was named “Kansan of the Year,” and in 1998 the French Ministry of Culture awarded him the rank of Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters.