Tenor Bryan Hymel's Heroic Voice
Heroic, indeed. So much so, that his first CD is called, Héroïque. Sure, the title refers to the music on tenor Bryan Hymel's freshman solo recording, a portrayal of the heroic figures of French grand opera. But to accurately portray those characters, it doesn't hurt to have an heroic voice.
In October 2012, The Philadelphia Inquirer and WRTI's David Patrick Stearns wrote, "Academy of Vocal Arts grad Bryan Hymel sang the leading tenor role of Rodolfo showing his high notes are easily among the best in the business. The rest of his voice is so attractive, and his presence so winning…"
More recently, NPR has been noted as saying Hymel is, "...the new king of the high C's." He's worked hard to get there though.
After high school, the New Orleans native came to the attention of opera houses at age 19, when he won the Verdi Aria Competition at the Aspen Music Festival in Aspen, Colorado. A year later, he was a grand finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions — where he was the youngest participant — and he received an "encouragement grant" from the George London Foundation for Singers.
After graduating from Loyola University New Orleans with a Bachelor's degree in Vocal Performance, he participated in the Merola Opera Program at the San Francisco Opera. Following his time there he attended Philly's own, the prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts, where he was further able to hone his craft.
Bryan Hymel started in music by playing trumpet, which he says later helped his vocal abilities greatly.
On the show, he tells Jill Pasternak a story about how he, with then-AVA classmate and former trumpeter Stephen Costello, and with other former brass-playing classmates, entertained the attendees of an AVA holiday party with seasonal favorites on brass.
Hymel made his professional opera debut in 1998 as the Philistine messenger in Samson et Dalila with the New Orleans Opera, a company where he has performed many roles, including Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Luigi in Il tabarro, and Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi. After his hometown debut, Hymel sang Tamino in Die Zauberflöte and the Duke in Rigoletto with Opera Grand Rapids. He made his European debut in 2007 at the Wexford Festival Opera, performing the role of the Prince in Dvorak’s Rusalka. Later that year he made his New York recital debut with Michelle DeYoung under the sponsorship of the George London Foundation. He has also sung at Carnegie Hall with Opera Orchestra of New York in a gala concert honoring the 100th performance there of conductor Eve Queler that also featured Renée Fleming, Marcello Giordani, and Dolora Zajick.
Hymel is the winner of the 2013 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera for his trio of performances in Les Troyens, Robert le diable, and Rusalka at London's Royal Opera House. The New York Times praised his "unflagging stamina and impetuous abandon" during his 2012 Metropolitan Opera debut as Énée in Les Troyens, for which he was presented with the Metropolitan Opera's Beverly Sills Artist Award. In 2014 Hymel became an exclusive recording artist for Warner Classics, the label under which this debut CD was produced.
Bryan next spends the remainder of March performing in La Boheme at Dallas Opera. Then it's Les Troyens in June at San Francisco Opera (a performance we're hoping to bring you sometime this summer after the Met broadcast season is over), and Rigoletto at Santa Fe Opera in July and August. Next season, he returns to the Met for La Boheme in January, April and May.
Tenor Bryan Hymel is this week's guest on Crossover with Jill Pasternak, Saturday morning at 11:30 on WRTI-FM, with an encore the following Friday evening at 7:00 on WRTI-HD2. Both airings can be heard on the All-Classical web stream at wrti.org.