Hailed for his “polished vocal technique” and “heart-tugging emotional communication” (San Diego Story), Nicholas Newton is garnering due attention as an up-and-coming bass-baritone in the classical music world. Nicholas' 2023-24 season features the Houston Grand Opera world premiere of Intelligence, a new American epic created by a powerhouse trio: composer Jake Heggie, librettist Gene Scheer, and director/choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, founder of Urban Bush Women. Other engagements include Rossini’s comic masterpiece, La cenerentola, as Alidoro at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Gounod's Roméo et Juliette at Lyric Opera Kansas City as Frère Laurent, John Adams’ El Niño at the Metropolitan Opera in a new production directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, resident director at Lincoln Center Theater, led by Marin Alsop, and the world premiere of Gregory Spears and Tracy K. Smith's The Righteous along with the role of Leporello in a fresh interpretation by Stephen Barlow of Don Giovanni at the Santa Fe Opera under the baton of Music Director Harry Bicket.
Concert performances of the season include Handel’s Messiah with the Ann Arbor Symphony under the auspices of the University Musical Society and with the Rhode Island Philharmonic, as well as Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up In My Bones in a new suite of music from the composer’s historic opera, performed with the legendary trumpeter and his E-Collective, the Grammy Award-winning Turtle Island Quartet in Austin, Houston, and Richmond.
During the 2022-23 season Nicholas made a European debut at the Salzburg Festival in Peter Sellar's semi-staged version of Purcell’s The Indian Queen with Teodor Currentzis conducting Utopia choir and orchestra, a Lyric Opera of Chicago debut as Peter in Richard Jones’ acclaimed production of Hänsel und Gretel conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, a Cincinnati May Festival debut as the baritone soloist in R. Nathaniel Dett's The Ordering of Moses conducted by Marin Alsop, and a Detroit Opera debut in Handel’s Xerxes conducted by Dame Jane Glover. Other highlights of the season included Il barbiere di Siviglia at Cincinnati Opera, Salome and Tosca at Houston Grand Opera, and Rigoletto at The Dallas Opera.
Highlights of past seasons include Il barbiere di Siviglia at Santa Fe Opera, Rodelinda at the Metropolitan Opera, the world premiere of Joel Thompson and Andrea Davis Pinkney’s The Snowy Day at Houston Grand Opera, La bohème and Sweeney Todd at Wolf Trap Opera, Rigoletto with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and both Susannah and Giulio Cesare at Rice University.
"Bass-baritone Nicholas Newton’s rich, hearty voice and sympathetic manner lent Billy a dignity of his own."
Texas Classical Review | Marian's Song
An avid concert performer and recitalist, Nicholas Newton is an alumnus of Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute and has toured with renowned pianist, Kevin Murphy, and performed at the Tucson Desert Song Festival. He also has worked with the Cincinnati Song Initiative and performed in their virtual recital series: A World of Song, and appeared in Houston Grand Opera’s Giving Voice: Lawrence Brownlee & Friends concert. Other notable concert performances include Mozart’s Requiem, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Fauré’s Requiem, Stephen Paulus’ To Be Certain of the Dawn, Gershwin’s Catfish Row with San Diego Winds, Duruflé’s Requiem with San Diego Master Chorale, and the world premiere of Michael Capp’s Christmas Revels with Las Colinas Symphony.
In addition to his burgeoning profile on international opera and concert stages, Nicholas is an independent researcher whose main focus is Black composers and their operatic and vocal concert repertoire. He is building a Black Opera Database; an in-progress resource created to archive, celebrate, and preserve the vocal compositional output of Black composers and works that chronicle the Black experience. He conducts most of his in-person research in New York at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and in Chicago at the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago. These two centers have provided him the opportunity to research the music of Black composers in great detail through the access of Special Collections, Microfilms, Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books.
Nicholas is also an affiliate with the Black Opera Research Network where he is mentored by the David G. Frey Distinguished Professor in Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dr. Naomi André. Dr. André is today’s foremost scholar of Black opera, specializing in research on opera and issues surrounding gender, voice, and race. Nicholas has also delivered multiple lectures on Black opera composers while under the tutelage of composer, former Fulbright Scholar and Guggenheim Fellow, and 2023 American Academy of Arts and Letters Walter Hinrichsen Prize in Music winner, Dr. Shih Hui Chen.
A proud alum of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, Nicholas Newton trained as a Studio Artist and Filene Artist with Wolf Trap Opera, a Young Artist with Aspen Music Festival, in the Young Artists Vocal Academy of Houston Grand Opera, and in San Diego Opera’s Opera Exposed program. A 2021 Sullivan Award-winner, he earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from San Diego State University studying with Laurinda Nikkel and his Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Rice University under the tutelage of Dr. Stephen King.