Skip to page content

Sanford Sylvan

About this Artist

From Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin and the Passions of J. S. Bach to the operas of John Adams, American baritone SANFORD SYLVAN displays a remarkable range of vocal expression and communicative power. Deeply committed to the art of the vocal recital, Sylvan and his long-time collaborator, pianist David Breitman, have performed extensively throughout the United States and Europe.

In the realm of opera, Sylvan's portrayals of Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro and Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte have been seen internationally, including PBS Great Performances telecasts. He has been much acclaimed for the role of Leporello in Don Giovanni, which he sang for his Glyndebourne Festival debut (1994) and with New York City Opera, where he has since become a regular performer. Sanford Sylvan has become closely associated with the productions of renowned directors: Peter Sellars in works of John Adams, Mozart, and Stravinsky; Robert Wilson in Virgil Thomson's Four Saints in Three Acts; and Sir Peter Hall and Andrei Serban. He has developed longstanding relationships with major composers who have written for him: John Adams' Nixon In China (Chou En-Lai), the title role of The Death of Klinghoffer, and the song cycle, The Wound Dresser; and numerous works of John Harbison. In March 2004 he will sing his first Wotan in Wagner's Die Walküre in a condensed Christopher Alden production with the Eos Orchestra.

Sanford Sylvan has performed with many of the leading orchestras of the world, collaborating with such conductors as Simon Rattle, Christoph von Dohnányi, Herbert Blomstedt, Christopher Hogwood, Kent Nagano, Bruno Weil, Roger Norrington, and Edo De Waart, among many others. In 1999 the Los Angeles Philharmonic commissioned Steven Stucky's American Muse for him and the premiere was conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. More recent performances include debuts with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Herbert Blomstedt, the Minnesota Orchestra under Yakov Kreizberg, and the Kansas City Symphony and Civic Orchestra of Chicago, both under Anne Manson.

Sylvan's festival appearances have included Edinburgh, Tanglewood, Vienna, Holland, Schleswig-Holstein, and Ojai. He has longstanding relationships with the Carmel Bach Festival and the New England Bach Festival, where he performs annually. In 2003, he made his debut with the Oregon Bach Festival under Helmuth Rilling, who has invited him to return next summer.

A Grammy and Emmy Award winner for his role in John Adams' Nixon In China, Sanford Sylvan has received Grammy nominations for L'Horizon Chimérique (which features chansons of Gabriel Fauré), Beloved That Pilgrimage (a program of American songs with music), and John Adams' The Wound Dresser.