Bass-baritone Ryan Kuster is gaining national recognition for his recent appearances as Escamillo in Carmen, with Virginia Opera, Opera Colorado, Opera Grand Rapids, Florida Grand Opera, and Knoxville Opera. Colorado’s Daily Camera wrote, “Baritone Ryan Kuster possesses a swaggering virility in the role of Escamillo… The character has the most famous of all the opera’s many great tunes, and Kuster’s delivery does not disappoint,” and the Community Digital News said, “Mr. Kuster plays Escamillo as a self-confident showman who also displays a cool, cynical approach to love… It’s a marvelous performance of this small yet key role.” This season, Kuster returns to Dallas Opera as Dr. Grenvil in La traviata and Old Hebrew in Samson et Dalila.
Last season, Kuster performed the role of Escamillo in Peter Brook’s La tragédie of Carmen with San Diego Opera, Don Basilio in On Site Opera’s production of Le nozze di Figaro, Colline in La bohème with The Charleston Opera, Escamillo in Carmen with Florida Grand Opera, a concert titled “Arias and Ensembles” with Dallas Opera, and a concert with Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra.
Additional recent highlights include Lysiart in von Weber’s Euryanthe with Bard Summerscape where he received rave reviews: “Baritone Ryan Kuster brought a venomous enthusiasm to Lysiart; he was especially good in his potent Act II aria” (Wall Street Journal) and “His lithe bass-baritone never hardened even in the most frenzied outbursts, and the dark, noble timbre of the voice made his deception seem all the more plausible.” (NY Observer) He also received notable mention for his rendition of the title role in Opera Memphis’ Don Giovanni. “Ryan Kuster’s well-voiced Don Giovanni was charming, arrogant and thoroughly disgusting. Kuster presented a psychologically fascinating character, in love only for as long as he needed to be, supremely confident, unafraid, unencumbered by regrets, witty and quick-witted enough to escape a multitude of compromising situations.” (The Commercial Appeal)
In recent seasons, Mr. Kuster has performed the title role in Don Giovanni with Wolf Trap Opera; Angelotti in Tosca with Dallas Opera, Madison Opera, Pacific Symphony, and Orlando Philharmonic; Alidoro in La Cenerentola with Nashville Opera and Opera Saratoga; multiple roles with Arizona Opera including Coline in La bohème and Masetto in Don Giovanni, which he also performed with Cincinnati Opera and in his début with Los Angeles Philharmonic, directed by Christopher Alden; and in Dallas Opera’s production of Turandot. Recent concert engagements include a performance of St. Matthew’s Passion with Boulder Philharmonic; Brutamonte in Fierrabras, Schubert’s hidden gem, with Bard Music Festival; Händel’s Messiah with Milwaukee Symphony; and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in his début with National Symphony.
His strong relationship with San Francisco Opera began when he joined the Merola Program, where he appeared as Garibaldo in Rodelinda, Don Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and Dr. Cajus in Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor in the Schwabacher Scenes Program. Kuster was a member of the prestigious Adler Fellowship Program with San Francisco Opera, where he gained vast attention and accolades on the west coast for his 59 mainstage performances in 2 fall seasons of Masetto (Leporello cover) in Don Giovanni; Escamillo in SFO’s Carmen for Families; Bass Soloist in Mozart’s Requiem; Astolfo in Lucrezia Borgia; the Mandarin in Turandot; Angelotti/Jailor in Tosca; 4th Noble in Lohengrin; and Count Ceprano in Rigoletto. Mr. Kuster is also on the DVD release of SFO’s production of Lucrezia Borgia with Renée Fleming.
Previous engagements also include Rambaldo in La rondine with Oberlin in Italy; Pantalone in Le donne curiose with Wolf Trap Opera Company; Sam in Trouble in Tahiti with Opera Santa Barbara; covering Samuel Ramey in the title role of Bluebeard’s Castle at the Chicago Opera Theater; The Parson, Badger and Woodpecker in The Cunning Little Vixen, Doctor Grenvil in La traviata and Carl Olsen in Street Scene with Chautauqua Opera; Count Ceprano in Rigoletto and Betto in both Gianni Schicchi and Ching’s Buoso’s Ghost with Opera New Jersey; and Ferrando in Il trovatore, Snug in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Frère Laurent in Roméo et Juliette at Opera North.
On the concert stage, Mr. Kuster performed the bass solos in the Fauré Requiem with the Bucks County Symphony, the Mozart Requiem with the Neumann College Choir, the bass solos in the Messiah with the Tindley Temple Choir, the title role of Händel’s oratorio Saul with the Marsh Chapel Choir and Collegium, and Adam in Haydn’s Creation with the Boston University Symphonic Chorus. He also appeared as a featured soloist with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Ocean City Pops, New Jersey Master Chorale, and Concert Operetta Theater of Philadelphia.
Mr. Kuster has been very successful on the competition circuit, recently being awarded 1st place for the Igor Gorin Award. He also sung on the Metropolitan Opera stage as a National Council Semi-Finalist, received a 3rd place prize in the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, received a Grant from the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation Competition, the Harmon Award from Chautauqua Opera, and was given the Encouragement Award in the Philadelphia region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.