The New York Times hailed Ashraf Sewailam’s début at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall as a “stand out performance” and Opera News described his voice as “purring and velvety with an easily produced Ramfis-like top range with a majestic tone,” and his stage presence as “strong, mysterious and with mesmerizing intensity.” Recently, Mr. Sewailam performed the role of Osmin in Abduction from the Seraglio and Queequeg in Moby Dick with Opera San Jose, Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro with San Diego Opera, Colline in La Boheme with Austin Opera, and Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia with New Zealand Opera. Upcoming performances include the title role in Ali Baba with Opera Southwest, Ramphis in Aida with Virginia Opera, and Colline in La boheme with Seattle Opera.
In recent seasons, Mr. Sewailam performed the role of Capitán in Florencia en el Amazonas with Madison Opera, performed Monterone in Rigoletto with Opera Grand Rapids, Toledo Opera, and Opera Carolina, where he also performed Lignieres in Cyrano, and sang a concert entitled Eternal Spirit with Boulder Bach Festival. Additionally, he performed a recital with pianist Kenneth Osowski at York College and sang on a recording of The 13th Child, a new opera by Danish composer Poul Ruders. This past summer he performed Ramfis in Aida with Opera Rockies in Colorado Springs, and returned to Central City Opera as Die Sprecher in Die Zauberflöte and the pivotal role of Ferrando in Il trovatore, critics exclaiming, “ When you add bass Ashraf Sewailam to the mix, this becomes even more special…And it needs someone of Sewailam’s caliber.”
In addition to last season’s singing engagements, Mr. Sewailam made his New York City directorial debut directing a production of The Cunning Little Vixen with dell’Arte Opera Ensemble. Critics revered Mr. Sewailam’s direction as “thoughtful” (Voce di Meche), yet “straightforward” (New York Classical Review) and praised the production as being “intriguing” and “well-sung.” (Opera News).
In his début with New Zealand Opera as the assassin Sparafucile in Rigoletto, he was described as “hard to better, both vocally and dramatically.” He subsequently returned to sing Alidoro in La Cenerentola, which he later performed for Queensland Opera. Ashraf made his United States début in 2004 with Opera Colorado performing the role of Leporello in Don Giovanni. Quickly becoming a house favorite, he subsequently performed there as Count Ceprano in Rigoletto, Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro, Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and The King of Egypt in Aïda.
Other recent engagements include appearances with The Boston Symphony as Leoporello in Don Giovanni; Colline in La bohème, Pistola in Falstaff, Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, and The Narrator in Peter and the Wolf ; returns to San Diego Opera for Ramfis in Aïda, Leporello in Don Giovanni, and Pizzetti’s Assassinio nella cattedrale; the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance with Lyric Opera of San Diego; and an exciting co-production between Opera Carolina, Virginia Opera, Toledo Opera, Opera Grand Rapids, and Lyric Opera Baltimore of Roméo et Juliette as Capulet. He also sang Brahm’s Requiem with Dubuque Symphony, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Colorado Springs Philharmonic, and Händel’s Messiah with Cheyenne Symphony
Additional roles include Balthazar in Amahl and the Night Visitors at Central City Opera; Angelotti in Tosca with Lyric Opera Baltimore; Pooh-Bah in The Mikado with Opera Memphis; Escamillo in Carmen and Queeqweg in Moby Dick with Fargo-Moorhead Opera; Secret Police Agent in The Consul with Chautauqua Opera; Sparafucile in Rigoletto with Fresno Grand Opera; Ferrando in Il trovatore with Chautauqua Opera and Virginia Opera; Colline in La bohème with The Chattanooga Symphony and Opera; Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore with Baton Rouge Opera; and a rousing performance as Beethoven/Commendatore in Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Steven Stucky’s opera The Classical Style at Carnegie Hall, a role he originally created at Ojai Music Festival.
Mr. Sewailam’s recent concert appearances include Orso Faledro in La nave, Uin-Sci in Leoni’s L’oracolo, and Salomone in Montemezzi’s L’incantesimo at Avery Fisher Hall; his Carnegie Hall début as the Bass soloist in Rutter’s Mass of the Children; Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with The Colorado Mahlerfest; and the bass solo in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Phoenix Symphony. He also appeared numerous times with The Colorado Symphony, Boulder Bach Festival, and the Colorado Music Festival. His concert repertoire includes Bach’s Saint John’s Passion, Magnificat, Christmas Oratorio, and Lutheran Masses in F and A; Händel’s Messiah; Haydn’s The Creation and Lord Nelson’s Mass; Mozart’s Requiem and Vespers; and the Verdi Requiem. Mr. Sewailam also has a commercial recording on the Bridge label in which he performs Songs from the Hebrew by Stefan Wolpe.