Meet J. Warren Mitchell!
Filstrup Resident Artist J. Warren Mitchell debuts the role of the Messenger in Verdi’s Aïda in Concert with Tulsa Opera this February! We had the opportunity to learn about J. Warren’s musical journey as an emerging artist in the opera industry. Read more about him below!
“No one has the right to rob a person of their dreams, regardless of their circumstances. Future success takes root in our wildest dreams.
Early on, I dreamt of being a choral music director and an opera singer. In my hometown of Montgomery, AL, I was heavily involved in my school choruses and was exposed to music and concerts featuring classical music. I can vividly remember every December making the two-hour drive to Atlanta, GA where we would attend the annual joint Christmas Concert of the Spelman College Women’s chorus and the Morehouse College Men’s Glee club. It would be the first time I would hear live operatic sounds being made by singers of color, and it would spark my interest to pursue vocal studies in college.
However, the wings of that dream were clipped when I was warned by college professors about the added difficultly I would experience as a tenor of color in opera. Determined to disprove my naysayers, I researched the topic and found there was great underrepresentation of tenors of color who had made careers singing opera. Being raised in the deep south, I determined my race would make a pursuit of an operatic career an exercise in futility. As a result, I decided a degree in music education was a prudent path for me.
What the Universe has in store for you, no one can stop or block. You can run from it, but it will eventually find you again!
For me, this happened in graduate school. I happened to find a voice teacher who helped to unlock my hidden potential to sing opera and made me a believer that I could succeed at opera with hard work and a determination to succeed. After all, ‘why would the good Lord gift you with such a voice?’ So, my journey started in opera. Today, I am tremendously blessed to have enjoyed international success and notoriety making a career singing opera. I have seen the power of dreams manifesting into future success and I look forward to the many others that await me.
Our dreams eventually become our hopes and aspirations for the future.
I’m glad I was able to see other African Americans on stage singing opera in Atlanta, GA. Otherwise, I would not have begun to dream and see my future in opera! For that reason, I encourage you to attend Tulsa Opera’s production of Aida and be inspired by seeing successful singers of color being featured on stage. You never know what next generation opera singer will be in the audience and be inspired by what they see and hear… Just like me all those years ago!”
Hailed by the Ruppiner Anzeiger as “The New, Young Pavarotti,” American tenor J. Warren Mitchell is an emerging star in the opera world with a voice that “can trumpet notes and make extraordinary throbbing sounds hearkening back to a golden age when gods like (Giuseppe) di Stefano still roamed.”(OperaWire.com)
In addition to being a featured performer in concert with orchestras all over the US and abroad in Germany, J. Warren is a 2012 Midwest Regional winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, a 2013 voice fellow at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, CA, a recipient of the Agnes Varis Career Encouragement Grant, a nominee for the Sara Tucker Award (Richard Tucker Music Foundation in New York City), a two-time winner of the Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg International Opera Competition (Rheinsberg, Germany), and 2019 Grand Finalist and Award winner in the Loren L.Zachary National Vocal Competition (Los Angeles, CA).
J. Warren received the Bachelor of Vocal Music Education degree from Auburn University (Auburn, AL), and the Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Oklahoma City University (Oklahoma City, OK).