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Special Reports

Where Are They Now?
Baritone Quinn Kelsey

June 5, 2018 | By Janelle Gelfand

New Artist of the Month: May 2010

As early as 2014, Quinn Kelsey had “fully graduated into the leading Verdi baritone roles he was clearly born to sing,” according The Chicago Tribune’s Mark Thomas Ketterson. His comments were prompted by Kelsey’s portrayal of the Count di Luna in Il trovatore at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Today, the gifted young Hawaiian native has arrived and then some. At the Met Opera this past season, he sang Di Luna as well as Peter in Hansel and Gretel and Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor. Next season, he’ll put his burnished baritone to work in two other great Verdi roles at the Met: Amonasro in Aida and Germont in a new production of La traviata.

In a recent interview with the Met’s Jay Goodwin, Kelsey noted the similarity of those two roles: “Neither is the longest role, but Verdi writes so much for me in that short amount of time. In both cases, without my character, the story might go in a totally different direction. I definitely enjoy being that one important puzzle piece that has to fit in perfectly,” he said.

Described in his first MA profile as a man of “imposing girth and a winning smile,” the baritone has since added more honors than the 2007 Richard Tucker career grant; in 2015, he was bestowed with the Beverly Sills Award, a $50,000 prize for young singers who have appeared in featured roles at the Met. By then, he had made his debut as Schaunard in La bohème, appeared as Marcello in the same opera, and stepped in on short notice to sing Germont in La traviata.

He’s sure to receive a hero’s welcome when he returns to Hawaii in May 2019 to star as—who else—Germont in La traviata for Hawaii Opera Theater. The company where he got his start as a member of the chorus is touting the new season as “opera’s greatest hits and the return home of Hawaiian baritone Quinn Kelsey.”

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