“an elegant baritone who sings with lustre and acts with conviction”
“Michael Todd Simpson, the magnetic Gaylord Ravenal, strode on-stage and immediately captivated his audience as well as the impressionable Magnolia Hawks. With movie-star good looks, and a resonantly full baritone that maintained legato along its whole range, Simpson put an operatic voice to powerful use in a non-opera role.”
“…even before he began to sing, the baritone established himself as a charismatic presence: tall, fair of complexion, with expressive eyes and handsome cheekbones, Mr. Simpson put me in mind of the Royal Ballet’s Edward Watson – and believe me, I can’t pay a higher compliment than that. Yet all that would have been for nought had Mr. Simpson not had the vocal goods to back up his physical appeal. But …he does! This is a warm, clear, easily-produced voice – a voice wonderfully present in the big House. Mr. Simpson seemed utterly at home, both in the persona and in the music; one would have thought he’d sung this piece dozens of times since every word and note in his nuanced performance radiated assurance and grace. All afternoon, the Simpson voice was a veritable font of baritonal beauty, and while comparisons are not always meaningful, I can only say that listening to Mr. Simpson gave me the same deep pleasure I have often drawn from the singing of Sanford Sylvan and Thomas Hampson. Deservedly hailed with bravos at his solo bow, Mr. Simpson proved so much more than a stand-in: he’s a distinctive artist, and one I hope to hear again – soon and often.”
This season, baritone Michael Todd Simpson returns to Pittsburgh Opera as Escamillo in Carmen. He recently appeared at the Metropolitan Opera as Sonora in La Facuilla del West, Escamillo in Carmen, and Donner in Das Rheingold and San Francisco Symphony as Le fauteuil and L’arbre in L’Enfant et les Sortileges.
His many roles include the title role in Eugene Onegin, Count in Le nozze di Figaro, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, Silvio in Pagliacci, Escamillo in both Carmen and Le Tragedie de Carmen, Zurga in The Pearl Fishers, Hermann and Schlemil in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Lescaut in Manon, Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Jaufré Rudel in Sariaaho’s L’Amour de Loin, Ravenal in Show Boat, Billy Bigelow in Carousel, and the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance. He has appeared all over the U.S. in opera houses such as the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, New York City Opera, Washington National Opera, Dallas Opera, Seattle Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Cleveland Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Portland Opera, and the Ft. Worth Opera, and internationally at Opera North (U.K), Opera Australia (in Australia and Taiwan), and the NCPA in Beijing. He most recently made his European debut at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence as Escamillo in a new production of Carmen directed by Dmitri Tcherniakov.
Mr. Simpson stars as Ravenal in the DVD of the San Francisco Opera’s production of Show Boat. He also sang the role of Tooley in the American premiere of Sir Richard Rodney Bennett’s The Mines of Sulphur at the Glimmerglass Festival, which was recorded and released by Chandos Records in 2005.
A native of Gastonia, NC, Mr. Simpson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in vocal performance from Erskine College in Due West, SC, and earned his Masters of Music degree at the College Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati. He is also a graduate of the Seattle Opera Young Artists Program and the Glimmerglass Opera Young American Artists Program. His many awards include regional winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the Spanish Prize in the 2007 José Iturbi International Music Competition, first prize in the first annual Marguerite McCammon Voice Competition, the Sara Tucker Study Grant awarded by the Richard Tucker Foundation and the Richard F. Gold Career Grant, and first place winner of the 1996 and 1999 South Carolina National Association of Teachers of Singing vocal competition.