Mayes recently stunned London audiences as Joseph de Rocher in the UK premiere of Jake Heggie’s opera Dead Man Walking alongside Joyce DiDonato at London’s Barbican Hall. His “searing performance” was hailed by critics as “sensational”, “a revelation”, and “of such stunning strength and complete identification”. Mayes recently made his European debut at the Teatro Real, Madrid, in staged performances of Dead Man Walking and has performed the role with multiple opera houses, including Washington National Opera.
Heggie himself describes Mayes as:
"The definitive Joseph De Rocher …Vocally and physically, he embodies and lives this character as nobody else has. I have learned more about my own opera because of his performance and the extraordinary drama and humanity he brings to it."
He is renowned for his outstanding performances in contemporary operas, including the world premiere of Great Scott with Dallas Opera and San Diego Opera; Margaret Garner opposite Denyce Graves with the Opera Company of Philadelphia and Opera Carolina; Out of Darkness; Three Decembers; Glory Denied; The Wreckers, The Canticle of the Black Madonna, Mark Adamo’s Lysistrata, Baden-Baden 1927 and Everest.
Future engagements include Conte di Luna in Il trovatore for Seattle Opera, Starbuck in Moby Dick in Pittsburgh, Dead Man Walking and the title role of Sweeney Todd for Atlanta Opera as well as his first Wozzeck.
Mayes also excels in roles such as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Scarpia in Tosca and the title role of Don Giovanni.
The strongest impact is made by the forceful baritone and hulking figure as the condemned man.
By far the best singer and most convincing actor in the cast…
- Wall Street Journal
The vocal standouts were Joyce DiDonato, and especially Michael Mayes, a sensational prisoner.
As Joseph De Rocher, baritone Michael Mayes sang and acted with animalistic ferocity.
- Opera News