Bass-baritone Ryan Kuster is gaining national recognition for his recent appearances in Carmen, with Virginia Opera, Opera Colorado, Opera Grand Rapids, 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. Setting his cap for Carmen in Act II, he actually tries to give the displaced José a bit of friendly advice in Act III, realizing that even he, the great hero of the bull ring, will likewise be eventually discarded by the predatory Carmen. It’s a marvelous performance of this small yet key role.” This season’s engagements include Angelotti in Tosca with Dallas Opera, Masetto in Don Giovanni at Arizona Opera, Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro with On Site Opera, and Escamillo in Carmen with Arizona Opera.
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 “They were all fine, in particular Ryan Kuster, smoothly malevolent as the vicious Lysiart. 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 made his symphonic début with the Los Angeles Philharmonic singing the role of Masetto in their highly acclaimed production of Don Giovanni, directed by Christopher Alden, with costumes by Rodarte, and led by Mo. Dudamel. Additionally, Ryan sang Alidoro in La Cenerentola for Nashville Opera and Opera Saratoga; Masetto in Don Giovanni with Cincinnati Opera; appeared in Dallas Opera’s production of Turandot; performed Angelotti in Tosca with Orlando Philharmonic, Madison Opera and Pacific Symphony; Colline in La bohème with Arizona Opera; was Bass Soloist in Händel’s Messiah with the Milwaukee Symphony; and Brutamonte in Schubert’s hidden gem Fierrabras for the Bard Music Festival. He also returned to Wolf Trap Opera to début the title role of Don Giovanni and made his National Symphony début performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
In 2011 and 2012 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 The 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 recently was awarded the 1st place for the Igor Gorin Award. He has sung on the Metropolitan Opera stage as a National Council Semi-Finalist. He received a 3rd place prize in the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition and received a Grant from the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation Competition. He also was given the Encouragement Award in the Philadelphia region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the Harmon Award from Chautauqua Opera.
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. Mr. Kuster earned an Artist Diploma at the Academy of Vocal Arts where he performed the roles of the Governor in the world première of Margaret Garwood’s The Scarlet Letter, Schaunard in La bohème, Enrico in Anna Bolena, Oroveso in Norma, the title role in Don Pasquale, Doctor Grenvil in La traviata, Dikoj in Kát’a Kabanová, and Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte.
Mr. Kuster also holds a Master of Music degree from Boston University where he performed the roles of A Man with a Cornet Case in Argento’s Postcard from Morocco, Benoit in La bohème, Garrido in Massenet’s La Navarraise, and Amantio DiNicolao in Gianni Schicchi. Mr. Kuster earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Westminster Choir College.