Curtis Bannister, tenor
Described by TimeOut Chicago Magazine as “radiating with slowly simmering energy”, tenor Curtis Bannister has been praised for his vocal artistry and dramatic portrayals in both the operatic and musical theatre repertoire. Mr. Bannister made his professional debut with the Utah Festival Opera Company; stepping in for all performances as the title role in Verdi’s Otello. Of his portrayal as Otello, the Salt Lake City Tribune and The Herald Journal, respectfully, praised his “dramatic inflection and compelling energy” as well as his “thrilling tenor voice and a towering stage presence.”
The 2018/19 season begins with Mr. Bannister returning to the cast of NBC’s CHICAGO FIRE in his role as Reimers, his debut with Jedlicka Performing Arts Center as Jamie in Jason Robert Brown’s THE LAST 5 YEARS in Chicago, his role debut as the Celebrant in Leonard Bernstein’s MASS under the baton of Marin Alsop, and a pair of concerts with the Musica Lumina Orchestra as the title role of WERTHER. 2019 performances include his debut with St. Petersburg Opera as Paul in Porter’s KISS ME KATE, a gala concert performance with Court Theatre, his debut with Chicago Opera Theatre in a workshop reading of the new opera, FREEDOM RIDE, as Rev. Jerome Mitchell, his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra as Ragotski in Bernstein’s CANDIDE, his debut with Theatre at the Center as Sid Sorokin in THE PAJAMA GAME, Curtis’ debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival as the Street Singer and Celebrant cover in Bernstein MASS with Marin Alsop, and his joining the roster at The Metropolitan Opera’s for the Company’s first production of PORGY & BESS. Future engagements yet to be announced include an additional assignment with The Metropolitan Opera and performances in Chicago, Washington DC, Houston, and Los Angeles.
2017/2018 appearances included Curtis’ TV debut as Reimers on NBC’s CHICAGO FIRE, a benefit concert with the Chicago cast of “Hamilton” for AKVAVIT THEATRE featuring selections from the musical, “Chess”, and concerts as a soloist in Porchlight Music Theatre’s NEW FACES SING BROADWAY (1959) concert series, debuted with Kokandy Productions as John Paul in Michael LaChiusa's LITTLE FISH, and debuted a new musical, THE CIVILITY OF ALBERT CASHIER, with Permoveo Productions. He returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago to perform the role of Set in THE SCORPION'S STING, debuted with BoHo Theatre as Jean in MARIE CHRISTINE, debuted with the Marriott Theatre as Matthew Henson (u/s) in RAGTIME!: THE MUSICAL, and performed recitals of German lieder and French melodies with the CHERRY HILL CONCERT SERIES and CLAYTON PIANO FESTIVAL in North Carolina.
In the previous season, Mr. Bannister performed as tenor soloist in Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass for the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, debuted with Writers Theatre as Lieutenant Barri/Mother in a reading of Stephen Sondheim's Passion, debuted with Porchlight Music Theatre as Edward Moncrief in On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, and returned to Writers Theatre in Jason Robert Brown's Parade; a production in which he understudied and ultimately performed the roles of Jim Conley, Newt Lee, and Riley. In April 2017, Curtis was a Special Award recipient in the finals of The Kurt Weill Foundation's Lotte Lenya Competition.
Highlights from previous seasons include Mr. Bannister’s debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Peter, (Sportin’ Life cover) in the Francesca Zambello directed production of Porgy and Bess, a concert for the Metropolitan Opera National Council, 1st Heavenly Friend in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s acclaimed production of Carousel (directed by Rob Ashford), his debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as Ragotski/Cacambo/The Baron in Candide (conducted by Marin Alsop), Monty in the new world premiere production of Saturday Night Fever for Merry Go Round Playhouse/Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival, his international recital debut of German lieder and Negro Spirituals with the Musiques de Chambre au Musee du Louvre, Man 1 in Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World at Chicago’s Stage 773, Uriel in Haydn’s The Creation for the Waukesha Choral Union, Rodolfo in La Boheme for the Repertory Opera Theater of Washington, his debut in a Shakespearian role as Aaron in Titus Andronicus with Stillpointe Theatre, soloist in the Baltimore Symphony Pop Orchestra’s Home for the Holidays Concert starring Shirley Jones and Robert Goulet, and his debut with the Paris Opera Ballet as an ensemble dancer in the Maurice Béjart interpretation of Ravel’s Bolero for the Ballet’s 2012 North American tour.
Mr. Bannister has also performed as Pirelli in the off-Broadway production of Sweeney Todd, Thomas in the pre-Broadway production of the musical Amazing Grace for Broadway in Chicago, and portrayed the role of Andre DeSheilds for the 2009 National Players Tour of Ain’t Misbehavin’ with Olney Theatre Center. A graduate of the Peabody Conservatory of Music and an award recipient of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Mid-west region encouragement and audience choice award winner), Curtis is a proud native of Green Bay, Wisconsin.