“For the mountains shall depart,” Mendelssohn’s Elijah
“Lost in the Stars,” Weill’s Lost in the Stars
“On the Beach at Night, Alone,” Vaughan Williams’s Sea Symphony
Kenneth Overton is lauded for blending his opulent baritone with magnetic and varied portrayals that seemingly “emanate from deep within body and soul.” Heralded by the BBC for his “exceptional voice,” Kenneth made his New York City Opera mainstage début in 2012 as Doctor Grenvil in Verdi’s La traviata. That season, Kenneth also made an acclaimed début in the world-première of David Ott’s The Widow’s Lantern at Pensacola Opera, whereby he was immediately re-engaged to star as Joe in Showboat and later Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd the very next season. This season, Overton performs the role of Jake Wallace in La fanciulla del West with New York City Opera, reprises the title role of Porgy and Bess with Margaret Island Open-Air Theatre in Budapest, sings Angela Rice’s Thy Will Be Done with National Chorale, joins San Francisco Opera for the world-première of Girls of the Golden West, a new opera by John Adams and Peter Sellars and performs the role of Ralph Abernathy in I Dream with Opera Grand Rapids, Toledo Opera and Opera Carolina.
Recent engagements include Mozart’s Requiem and a Gershwin celebration with National Chorale at David Geffen Hall, his début with the New York Philharmonic for Dvořák’s Symphony for a New World, Faure’s Requiem and the New York première of The Seven Last Words by Michael Jon Trotta with Mid America Productions at Carnegie Hall, Michele in Il tabarro with Utah Festival Opera, Dvořák’s Te Deum with Hunter College Symphony Orchestra, and Jake in Porgy and Bess with Toledo Opera. Kenneth’s interpretation of the title role in Porgy and Bess has been acclaimed as “breathtaking.” In 2014, he débuted with Opéra de Montréal, Palacio Bellas Artes and the Royal Danish Opera as Porgy. He made his international début at Deutsche Oper Berlin in the critically-acclaimed production from South Africa’s Cape Town Opera. Kenneth has also portrayed Porgy with Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, Opera Memphis, Opera Carolina, Lexington Opera Society, Utah Festival Opera, and in concert with The WDR Orchestra of Cologne at the Klangvokal Music Festival in Dortmund, The Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra, The Richmond Symphony, the Sopot Classical Festival with the Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, Springfield Symphony, Traverse City Symphony, The Paducha Symphony, and on tour throughout the British Isles.
Career highlights include Kenneth’s San Francisco Opera début as Lawyer Frazier in Porgy and Bess and Sid in La fanciulla del West, Germont in La traviata with Sacramento Opera, and Bruckner’s Te Deum in his début with New Jersey Symphony. As a leading baritone, Kenneth has sung with Opera Memphis, Nashville Opera, Connecticut Opera, Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, Boheme Opera of NJ, Houston Ebony Opera Guild, Tacoma Orchestra, Opera Delaware, Sacramento Opera, and Opera Carolina. His roles with these companies include Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Schaunard in La bohème, Ping in Turandot, Angelotti in Tosca, and Bello and Sid in La fancuilla del West.
Kenneth is widely recognized for his concert work, having performed with Phoenix Symphony, Norwalk Symphony, Montclair State University, New Jersey’s Cathedral Basilica, Duluth Superior Symphony, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Yonkers Philharmonic, Oratorio Society of New Jersey, Summit Chorale Festival (NJ), New York City Opera’s Schomberg Series, Sarasota Symphony, San Antonio Symphony and Richmond Symphony. His concert and oratorio repertoire includes Händel’s Messiah, Verdi’s Requiem, Vaughn Williams’ A Sea Symphony, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Schubert’s Mass in A-flat, Haydn’s Creation, and Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs. Kenneth is also regularly featured with the American Spiritual Ensemble as a soloist for annual performances in the USA and international tours of Spain, Ecuador and France.
Kenneth has a passion for both musical theater and new works and he made his Broadway début in Baz Luhrman’s La bohème. He was featured in City Center Encores’ production and recording of Romberg’s The New Moon and sang the role of Stephen Kumalo in Lost in the Stars with Skylark Opera. His Carnegie Hall début was as the baritone soloist in Come Follow Me by Jackson Berkey with the Westfield Symphony Orchestra (Mid-America Productions). Kenneth has also excelled in diverse contemporary works including performances of Corps of Discovery by Michael Ching at Opera Festival of New Jersey, Six Characters in Search of An Author by Hugo Weisgall, and The Gilded Cage by Kioulaphides with Nexus Arts (NY).
In collaboration with pianist Kevin Miller, Kenneth released his first solo CD in the fall of 2013. Been In De Storm So Long: Songs My Fathers Taught Me is his homage to the spiritual tradition that has been formative in his artistic life. In step with this legacy, Kenneth is also co-founder and artistic director of Opera Noire of New York, a performing arts organization created to empower African-American artists to reach their full creative potential in a creative, supportive environment.
Kenneth is a winner of the Liederkranz Competition, Connecticut Opera Guild Competition, Rosa Ponselle Competition (Meriden, CT), and a national winner of the Leontyne Price Vocal Competition.