Ryan de Ryke, baritone, is an artist whose versatility and unique musical presence have made him increasingly in demand on both sides of the Atlantic. He has performed at many of the leading international music festivals, including the Aldeburgh Festival in the UK and the festival at Aix-en-Provence in France. The Baltimore Sun hailed him as “a talent that seems to defy labels, for without pretense or vocal tricks he delivers a naturally beautiful sound that penetrates to one’s inner core in every conceivable range.” Mr. de Ryke appears regularly as an oratorio soloist and has worked with many early music ensembles, including the Orchestra of the 17th Century, the Baltimore Handel Choir, the Bach Sinfonia, the Ciciliana Quartet, and the American Opera Theater. His operatic roles include the title roles in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and Blow’s Venus and Adonis, and Giove and Mercurio in Cavalli’s La Calisto. He portrayed Nardo in Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera with the Bay Area Summer Opera and Oberon in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He made his Weill Recital Hall debut as a finalist with the New York Oratorio Society and later returned to the Zankel hall as a finalist in the Marilyn Horne master class competition. Mr. de Ryke studied at the Peabody Conservatory with John Shirley-Quirk, the Royal Academy of Music with Ian Partridge, and the National Conservatory of Luxembourg with Georges Backes. He is also an Alumnus of the Britten-Pears Institute in the UK and the Schubert Institute in Austria, where he worked Elly Ameling, Wolfgang Holzmair, Julius Drake, Rudolf Jansen, and Helmut Deutsch. A founding member of the Baltimore Lieder Weekend, he is a frequent performer on WFMT Chicago. He collaborates regularly with Daniel Schlosberg, Eugenia Cheng, Eva Mengelkoch, Michael Shepard, Susan Youens, and Roger Vignoles.
What is the story of how you first came to love music and opera?
When I was about 10 years old, my choir teacher told me that a production of Amahl and the Night Visitors was auditioning, and she thought I should try out. I got the part! When the show was over, I was inconsolable for about a week because I had never been happier in my life than when making music with friends and colleagues. I still feel that way.
What is the biggest challenge you face as an artist?
I think the biggest challenge is the sheer diversity of repertoire. I end up singing everything under the sun. On one hand this is good because it keeps the musical mind flexible and drives home certain universal principles that I think apply to all music, but it can leave one feeling a little stylistically schizophrenic.
Do you have a favorite performer?
Living? Patrick Stewart. I saw him do Prospero in The Tempest on Broadway, and that production has never left my mind. Dead? Judy Garland. The way she structured a song is just miraculous.
Do you have a favorite aria?
The aria where I get to do the funny voices in Telemann’s Pimpinone.
Do you have any favorite books about music?
The Rest Is Noise by Alex Ross, and Music by Philip Glass by Philip Glass.
What else are you reading?
I just finished Sometimes Amazing Things Happen by Elizabeth Ford; it’s her memoirs as the head of the Bellevue Hospital for the Criminally Insane. And anything by Karen Armstrong.
Who are your favorite 17th- and 18th- century composers?
Monteverdi and Bach. I know that’s a boring answer. Having explored some of Telemann’s music with Haymarket, I have come to appreciate his musico-comic timing. It is unparalleled.
If you were stranded on a desert island, is there one piece of music you would like to have with you?
Schubert’s Du bist die Ruh’. Blergh… all of my favorites are songs, and they’re really short... so do I get to pick a few? No? Who’s running this survey?! Ok, I stick by my answer.
What do you love about HOC?
The musical experience is top-notch with EVERYONE involved of course, but I have to say that Sarah is an astonishing director. She makes me feel like I have total freedom to try crazy stuff out because she knows lovingly how to tell me when I am over the line, and she is ALWAYS right! She has impeccable taste and flawless skill in coaxing performances out of her actors. I have a huge amount of trust in her.
Do you have a favorite memory from a past HOC event?
Craig jumping on my back during the curtain call of Pimpinone.
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not making music?
I love to cook. And Netflix binges are a big part of my life.
What is the first thing you think about in the morning?
Oh God… Did I fill out that Haymarket Questionnaire?!! They’re so gonna fire me.
Do you have any heroes/heroines?
Fictional? President Josiah Bartlet. Nonfictional? Mohandas K. Gandhi.
What music do you listen to most often?
Great American Songbook stuff. Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, Rodgers and Hart. Such good songwriting!
If you had not entered into your current career what do you think you would have done instead?
Probably cook. Or be a social worker. Maybe a historian? Something where I wouldn’t make too much money. If you’re wealthy, it’s harder to shake your fist at God. Is that a profession? God Fist Shaker? Philosopher… yeah, that’s what I’d do. I’d be a philosopher.