Athlone Artists is delighted to welcome to its roster “the clarion-voiced, impressive” (The New York Times) Lyric Spinto tenor Bruce Sledge. A regular member of the Metropolitan Opera roster, Sledge made his role debut as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly in a Metropolitan Opera “Live in HD” broadcast in the fall of 2019. He made his debut at the Met in 2003 as Almaviva in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and has performed as Ferrando in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Tamino in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and King of Naples in Thomas Adès’s The Tempest. Upcoming engagements there include covering the role of Walther in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos.
In recent seasons, Sledge returned to the Deutsche Oper Berlin for performances of Jean in Le Prophète andto the Welsh National Opera as Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice and Macduff in Macbeth. He was praised by Opera Wire for his “dramatic versatility” for his portrayal of Bacchus in the Santa Fe Opera’s Ariadne auf Naxos, and Opera Canada raved that his “radiant, voluminous tenor and ease with language” as Lord Riccardo Percy in Anna Bolena with the Canadian Opera Company was “spot-on.”
Sledge’s childhood in Orange, California was inundated with eclectic musical offerings – some of his first remembered experiences were performing as a part of his father’s one-man band. “When I was seven,” recounts Sledge, “he got me singing a couple of songs at the Orange County street fair and we realized that I had a voice. That was how I got started.” His father also fostered his love of guitars, which Sledge had the opportunity to play often at the pawn shop owned by his family. To this day, Sledge maintains an impressive guitar collection, and one of his true enjoyments is writing and recording new music. “It can be really aggressive heavy metal to acoustic songs – Metallica all the way to John Denver – if the music and the melody are real, I’m captivated.”
Sledge’s first real exposure to classical music came in high school, when his teachers also recognized his talent and encouraged him to participate in competitions with other local singers. This led Sledge to pursue voice in college, and further receive a master’s degree in vocal arts from the University of Southern California, who recognized him as that year’s most outstanding graduate in his field. His early competition experience led to accolades as a Western Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, a finalist in the 2002 World Voice Masters Competition in Monte Carlo, a finalist in Placido Domingo’s Operalia 2000 World Opera Contest, a national finalist in the 2000 Loren L. Zachary Vocal Competition and a first-place prize in the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Competition.
Sledge counts among his career highlights nearly a decade of performing the role of the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto with companies including Vancouver Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Tulsa Opera and in Avenches, Switzerland; and a plethora of experience singing bel canto roles like Leicester in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda(sung with the Welsh National Opera, Swedish National Opera and the Minnesota Opera); Ernesto in Don Pasquale (Deutsche Oper in Berlin, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Teatro Regio di Torino and New York City Opera); and Leicester in Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra with the Rossini Opera Festival. And though the tenor continues to enjoy performing these roles, Sledge “could always tell [his] voice wanted to do bigger things.” He is looking forward to the next chapter as his voice has grown into the “repertoire home” that he’s been searching for his whole career, comfortably singing spinto tenor and lyrical Wagnerian roles. “I’m happy to have the voice now to be able to sing the big stuff,” says Sledge. “It’s fun to go on stage and really go for it.” In the meantime, Sledge is spending his quarantine in Orange, California, the place of his youth, in the company of his wife, stage manager Kathryn Davies, and 19-year-old son. Though thankful for all of the interesting and beautiful places his fruitful career has taken him and eagerly awaiting the chance to get on stage again, Sledge has welcomed the time for self-care and a respite from nearly twenty years on the road that the imposed hiatus has forced. The tenor is also finding joy perfecting Nessun Dorma to his own guitar accompaniment.