Beyond the Bio: Athlone Artists Welcomes Bass Stephen Clark

Athlone Artists warmly welcomes Stephen Clark to its roster of brilliant artists. The American bass is enjoying an international operatic career and is presently performing with the Theater am Goetheplatz in Bremen, Germany, with whom he has been engaged since 2018. 

Stephen has been cited for his “very appealing and enthusiastic stage presence” (Nordwest Zeitung) in roles such as Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Melisso in Alcina, Graf Ribbing in Un ballo in maschera, and Der Theaterdirektor and Bankier in Lulu. In a recent production of L’italiana in AlgieriDas Opernglas wrote, “Stephen Clark played Mustafà with full conviction and skillfully used his dark, slim bass.”

In Stephen’s return to the Theater Bremen this season, he will be seen in the roles of Sarastro and Der Sprecher in a new production of Die Zauberflöte; Dulcamara in a revival of L’elisir d’amore; and Pistola in Falstaff. He will also perform in two operas by Leoš Janáček, singing the role of Stárek in Jenůfa and Harašta in The Cunning Little Vixen.

Growing up in Tulsa, OK, Stephen had been exposed to great opera from an early age, getting to see Tulsa Opera on school trips. Still, music never played a big part in his life. He was encouraged to sing in the choir in high school by teachers who recognized his strong singing voice. “I sang in the choir for the most part because people said I had a good singing voice, which in turn made me feel good.” Good enough that Stephen decided to go to college to pursue a degree in music education at Northeastern State University in nearby Tahlequah. “I enjoyed it,” he says, “but around my classmates, there wasn’t anyone who wanted to be a performer. I had no idea it was even an option.” 

All of that changed when Stephen was asked to participate in his regional NATS singing competition. “I stayed the whole time,” he recalls. “I was exposed to so many different voices there, and all of these arias, and all of this new repertoire. And I sat there watching these people in their 20s and 30s and I thought, ‘wow, this is incredible. I’d love to give performing a try!’” He adds, “I figured if I’m not having fun and not having the kind of success that I want, then I can always find something else.”

Stephen sought his master’s degree in music at Oklahoma City University, where he found both fun and significant success on the stage. He participated in a number of young artist programs, like Seagle Music Colony, Central City Opera, Chautauqua, Fort Worth Opera Festival, Sarasota Opera and his home company in Tulsa. And then he was approached about an opening for a bass at the Yale Opera Program. “It was summer, and they needed a bass for September. They took me on, so I packed up my life and drove sight unseen to New Haven, CT, the day before class started.” 

Stephen had the time of his life at Yale, where he had opportunities to debut roles like Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte and Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte. He also appeared as a concert soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Hartford Chorale, in Stravinsky’s Renard with Orchestra New England, and in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Waterbury Symphony, the Hartford Symphony, and with the Yale Philharmonia under the baton of Marin Alsop. 

Stephen says, “Not only was the program at Yale very good. But in a lot of ways it revitalized my artistic life. One thing that I’ll always remember is that being around young people – being around intellectually curious people and artists – renewed my passion for life, in general.”

From Yale, he was accepted into the position he still holds today as an ensemble member of the Theater am Goetheplatz in Bremen, Germany. “I’m grateful to have had this opportunity to debut so many roles, and now I feel I’ve reached a point in my career where I’m ready to take the next step.” It was in this spirit that Clark turned to Miguel Rodriguez and Athlone Artists. “I really wanted to find someone who could help guide me on this journey,” says Stephen.  I don’t know what the future holds, in Europe or America, but I’m so happy to be a member of the Athlone roster. I’m hoping Miguel can lead me towards an open door and I will go through it. I’m openminded and looking forward to whatever comes next!”