The New York Times hailed Ashraf Sewailam’s début at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall as a “stand out performance” and Opera News described his voice as “purring and velvety with an easily produced Ramfis-like top range with a majestic tone,” and his stage presence as “strong, mysterious and with mesmerizing intensity.” This season, Mr. Sewailam performs the roles of Mustafa in L’italiana in Algeri with Portland Opera, Alidoro in La Cenerentola with San Diego Opera, and Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Opera San Antonio. He will also perform the bass solo in both Händel’s Messiah with American University in Beirut and Beethoven’s Mass in C with Cairo Symphony.
Recently, in his début with New Zealand Opera as the assassin Sparafucile in Rigoletto, he was described as “hard to better, both vocally and dramatically.” He subsequently returned to sing Alidoro in La Cenerentola, which he later performed for Queensland Opera. Ashraf made his United States début in 2004 with Opera Colorado performing the role of Leporello in Don Giovanni. Quickly becoming a house favorite, he subsequently performed there as Count Ceprano in Rigoletto, Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro, Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and King in Aïda.
Other recent engagements include appearances with The Boston Symphony as Leoporello in Don Giovanni; Colline in La bohème, Pistola in Falstaff, Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, and The Narrator in Peter and the Wolf ; returns to San Diego Opera for Ramfis in Aïda, Leporello in Don Giovanni, and Pizzetti’s Assassinio nella cattedrale; the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance with Lyric Opera of San Diego; and an exciting co-production at Opera Carolina, Virginia Opera, Toledo Opera, Opera Grand Rapids, Lyric Opera Baltimore of Roméo et Juliette as Capulet. He also sang Brahm’s Requiem with Dubuque Symphony, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Colorado Springs Philharmonic, and Händel’s Messiah with Cheyenne Symphony
Additional roles include Balthazar in Amahl and the Night Visitors at Central City Opera; Angelotti in Tosca with Lyric Opera Baltimore; Pooh-Bah in The Mikado with Opera Memphis; Escamillo in Carmen and Queeqweg in scenes from Moby Dick with Fargo-Moorhead Opera; Secret Police Agent in The Consul with Chautauqua Opera; Sparafucile in Rigoletto with Fresno Grand Opera; Ferrando in Il trovatore with Chautauqua Opera and Virginia Opera; Colline in La bohème with The Chattanooga Symphony and Opera; Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore with Baton Rouge Opera; and a rousing performance as Beethoven/Commendatore in Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Steven Stucky’s opera The Classical Style at Carnegie Hall, a role he recently created at Ojai Music Festival.
Mr. Sewailam’s recent concert appearances include Orso Faledro in La nave, Uin-Sci in Leoni’s L’oracolo, and Salomone in Montemezzi’s L’incantesimo at Avery Fisher Hall; his Carnegie Hall début as the Bass soloist in Rutter’s Mass of the Children; Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with The Colorado Mahlerfest; and the bass soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Phoenix Symphony. He also appeared numerous times with The Colorado Symphony, Boulder Bach Festival, and the Colorado Music Festival. His concert repertoire includes Bach’s Saint John’s Passion, Magnificat, Christmas Oratorio, and Lutheran Masses in F and A; Händel’s Messiah, Haydn’s The Creation and Lord Nelson’s Mass; Mozart’s Requiem and Vespers, and the Verdi Requiem. Mr. Sewailam also has a commercial recording on the Bridge label in which he performs Songs from the Hebrew by Stefan Wolpe.
Mr. Sewailam began his career as a Cairo Opera Company house soloist, where he performed many roles including Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore, Gaudenzio in Il signor Bruschino, Ramfis in Aïda, Palémon in Thaïs, and Sparafucile in Rigoletto. Mr. Sewailam was named a prize winner at the New Voices (Neue Stimmen) international competition in Gütersloh, Germany and was featured in the opening concert of the New Alexandria Library in 2002 singing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in Arabic. In addition to his singing engagements, Mr. Sewailam taught at the American University in Cairo, and served as music director for Disney Character Voice International (DCVI) dubbing Disney productions into Arabic, and performed several of the characters. He earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Colorado at Boulder.