Alan Held, who makes his San Francisco Symphony debut this week, was born in Washburn, Illinois, and received his vocal training at Millikin and Wichita State universities. A recipient of numerous honors including the Birgit Nilsson Prize, he has appeared in the world’s top opera houses, from the Metropolitan Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago in the US to the Royal Opera Covent Garden, La Scala, Vienna State Opera, Paris Opera, and Bavarian State Opera in Europe. His many roles include Wotan in Wagner's Ring cycle, the title role in The Flying Dutchman, Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Jochanaan in Salome, Orestes in Elektra, Balstrode in Peter Grimes, and the title role in Wozzeck.
Mr. Held has performed in concert with the Chicago, National, and BBC symphony orchestras, the Pittsburgh and Montreal symphonies, the Los Angeles and Berlin philharmonics, Cleveland Orchestra, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, and Kirov Opera Orchestra. He has also appeared at the Salzburg, Tanglewood, and Saito Kinen festivals, as well as the BBC Proms. He opened the Washington National Opera’s current season as Scarpia in Tosca. This season he also made his debut at the Canadian Opera Company in A Florentine Tragedy and Gianni Schicchi, and returned to Bilbao, Munich, and the Royal Opera House. Next season he opens the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s calendar in a new production of Elektra, sings Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the Tokyo Opera Nomori Festival, and returns to the Canadian Opera in Tristan und Isolde and Salome.
Alan Held recently appeared as the Four Villains in the Metropolitan Opera’s HD broadcast of Les Contes d’Hoffman, and he appears as Donner in that company’s DVD of Das Rheingold. He performs the title role in Cardillac in the DVD of the Paris Opera production, and he recorded the role of Don Pizarro in Fidelio with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic for EMI Classics. Mr. Held also gives regular master classes at Yale University.