Praised by The Washington Post for his “meltingly smooth bass-baritone” and for “evoking a young Ruggero Raimondi in looks and manner”, bass-baritone Richard Ollarsaba 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 Minnesota Opera in his role debut as Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro in the 2017-2018 season. He also debuts with Virginia Opera as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor and returns to Intermountain Opera as Pistola in Falstaff. Last season included a return to Wolf Trap Opera where he scored a triumph as Asdrubale in Rossini’s La Pietra del Paragone in addition to performances as Angelotti in Tosca and as Luciano in Musto’s Bastianello. Last season he returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago for Carmen, Les Troyens, Lucia di Lammermoor, covered Timur in Tuandot with Opera Philadelphia and sang in concert with the Apollo Chorus of Chicago and the Madison Bach Musicians.
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, La Cenerentola, La Clemenza di Tito, Tannhäuser, Parsifal and the title role in Don Giovanni, stepping into the iconic part with a few hours’ notice. Other operatic engagements include Escamillo in Carmen with Minnesota Opera, Tulsa Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago (cover) ; Fallito in Gassmann’s L’Opera Seria with Wolf Trap Opera; the title role in Don Giovanni with Intermountain Opera; Timur in Turandot and Rochefort in Anna Bolena with Minnesota Opera; Antonio in Le Nozze di Figaro with Opera Cleveland; Ferrando in Il Trovaotre with North Carolina Opera and Reverend John Hale in Ward’s The Crucible with Piedmont Opera.
In addition to performances on the operatic stage, Mr. Ollarsaba appears regularly in concert and recital. He has been the bass soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Kansas City Symphony as well as in Bach’s St. John’s Passion with the Madison Bach Musicians, 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 Fantsasy 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 the Music Academy of the West, Chautauqua Opera, Aspen Music Festival, Tanglewood and Wolf Trap Opera.