Sean Panikkar

Guest Artist

Sean Panikkar

Sean Panikkar continues “to position himself as one of the stars of his generation… His voice is unassailable—firm, sturdy and clear, and he employs it with maximum dramatic versatility” [Opera News]. The tenor is lauded by the public and press alike for his impressive vocal agility, impeccable musicianship, and a keen dramatic sense throughout a broad range of principal roles on leading international operatic stages.

Highlights of the 2023-24 season include a debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in a new production of Das Rheingold directed by Barrie Kosky and led by Music Director Sir Antonio Pappano, a new production of Die Fledermaus directed by Barrie Kosky at the Bayerische Staatsoper under the baton of Music Director Vladimir Jurowski, a new production by Peter Sellars of The Gambler at the Salzburger Festspiele, a new production of Œdipus Rex staged by Wayne McGregor at Dutch National Opera, and a revival at the Metropolitan Opera of Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Kevin Puts’ hit new opera, The Hours.

Last season, Sean Panikkar bowed in the Metropolitan Opera premiere of The Hours in a new production by Phelim McDermott led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, made his Bayerische Staatsoper debut as Laertes in Brett Dean’s Hamlet in the company’s new production by Neil Armfield conducted by Vladimir Jurowski, and joined the Komische Oper Berlin for a new production by Marco Štorman of Luigi Nono’s Intolleranza 1960 conducted by Gabriel Feltz. Additionally, he returned to both the Wiener Staatsoper for a revival of the Simon Stone production of Wozzeck led by Philippe Jordan and to English National Opera for a revival of Calixto Bieito’s production of Carmen conducted by Kerem Hasan. Symphonic performances included Stravinsky’s Œdipus Rex with Juraj Valčuha leading the Houston Symphony and Bruckner’s Te Deum with both Xian Zhang and the New Jersey Symphony as well as with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Highly prized as an interpreter of contemporary music on leading international stages, the American tenor of Sri Lankan heritage achieved a break-out success in his 2018 Salzburger Festspiele debut as Dionysus in a new production of Henze’s The Bassarids directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski under the baton of Kent Nagano. He was no less critically acclaimed for the role of Gandhi in Philip Glass’ Satyagraha directed by Phelim McDermott at Los Angeles Opera and English National Opera.

Sean Panikkar created the role of Adam in the world premiere of Giorgio Battistelli’s CO2 for a debut at Teatro alla Scala conducted by Cornelius Meister and directed by Robert Carsen, bowed at the Komische Oper Berlin in a new production of Henze’s The Bassarids directed by Barrie Kosky under the baton of Vladimir Jurowski, and returned to the Salzburger Festspiele for a new production by Jan Lauwers of Intolleranza 1960 conducted by Ingo Metzmacher.

Additional highlights include the title role of Œdipus Rex at the San Francisco Symphony in a production by Peter Sellars conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen; the title role of Jack Perla’s Shalimar the Clown for a world premiere at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis; and the role creations of Wendell Smith in Daniel Sonenberg’s The Summer King in a co-production of Pittsburgh Opera and Michigan Opera Theatre and Agent Henry Rathbone in a co-production of David T. Little’s JFK at Fort Worth Opera and Opéra de Montréal.

He has bowed at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence in Weill’s Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny directed by Ivo van Hove and conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen and additionally appeared in Jake Heggie’s Moby Dick at Pittsburgh Opera, Kevin Puts’ Silent Night at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, in a new production of Menotti’s rarely produced The Last Savage at the Santa Fe Opera, and, in what has become one of his signature roles, Nadir in Les Pêcheurs de Perles, for Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Fort Worth Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, and Opera Colorado.

Symphonic performances include Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Juraj Valčuha and the Minnesota Orchestra and with Christopher Warren-Green and the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette with Leonard Slatkin and the Saint Louis Symphony, The Tristan Project with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Michael Christie and the Phoenix Symphony, and Handel’s Messiah with Ragnar Bohlin and the San Francisco Symphony.

Sean Panikkar is a member of Forte, the operatic tenor group combining voices from different cultures into one incredible sound. The trio was created and debuted on America’s Got Talent having never met until only days before their first audition. During the 2013 season of the popular variety show, Forte was seen and heard by tens of millions of television viewers in national broadcasts on NBC. Their self-titled debut recording on Columbia Records was released in November 2013 and a follow-up recording, The Future Classics, was released in 2015.

An alumnus of San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellowship, Sean Panikkar holds his Bachelor and Master degrees in Voice Performance from the University of Michigan.