Mexican-American bass-baritone, Richard Ollarsaba, praised by The Washington Post for his “meltingly smooth bass-baritone” and for “evoking a young Ruggero Raimondi in looks and manner”, represented the USA in the 2019 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, was a member of the prestigious Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago for three seasons, and a grand finalist in the 2013 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He returns to Virginia Opera after his debut as Raimondo in the 2018 production of Lucia di Lammermoor where he “stood out for his plush bass-baritone and abundant dynamic nuance” (Opera News). His previous credits include a debut in the title role of Don Giovanni with Opera Hong Kong, the title role in Le nozze di Figaro with Minnesota Opera, Escamillo in Carmen with Kentucky Opera, Minnesota Opera, Tulsa Opera, Annapolis Opera, and the Barharbor Music Festival. He has been a featured soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in performances of Haydn’s Mass in Time of War and Handel’s Messiah. He will debut with New Zealand Opera in the title role in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro in 2021.
While at the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, his tenure included productions of La Traviata, Capriccio, Anna Bolena, Tosca, The Passenger, Otello, Madama Butterfly, Parsifal and the title role in Don Giovanni, stepping into the iconic part with a few hours’ notice. Other operatic engagements include Asdrubale in Rossini’s La pietra del paragone, Fallito in Gassmann’s L’opera seria, Angelotti in Tosca, and Luciano in Musto’s Bastianello with Wolf Trap Opera; the title role in Don Giovanni with Intermountain Opera; Timur in Turandot and Rochefort in Anna Bolena with Minnesota Opera; Ferrando in Il trovatore with North Carolina Opera, Colline in La bohème and Reverend John Hale in Ward’s The Crucible with Piedmont Opera, Pistola in Falstaff with Opera Omaha, and Antonio in Le nozze di Figaro with Opera Cleveland.
In addition to performances on the operatic stage, Mr. Ollarsaba appears regularly in concert and recital. He has been the bass soloist with the Mainly Mozart Festival in a rare performance of Mozart’s Thamos, König in Ägypten, Handel’s Messiah with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony, and Kansas City Symphony as well as in Bach’s St. John’s Passion with the Madison Bach Musicians, Dvorak’s Te Deum with Apollo Chorus of Chicago, Bernstein’s Songfest at the Ravinia Festival, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Macon Symphony Orchestra, Verdi’s Requiem with the Salisbury Symphony and Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy in his debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood. That concert was a gala celebration of the venerable festival’s 75th birthday and was telecast nationally on PBS.
A native of Tempe, Arizona, Richard Ollarsaba received his Bachelor of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music and his Master of Music and post-graduate certificate from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. In addition to the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, he trained at Minnesota Opera, Music Academy of the West, Chautauqua Opera, Aspen Music Festival, Tanglewood and Wolf Trap Opera.