Praised by Opera News as a "vocally charismatic" performer with a "golden tenor", Martin Bakari continues to distinguish himself as a dynamic artist in a wide array of musical and theatrical genres. A 2018 George London Competition award winner, Mr. Bakari’s 2018-19 season brings debuts with Atlanta Opera and Arizona Opera as Charlie Parker in Daniel Schnyder's Charlie Parker's Yardbird, Seattle Opera and Fort Worth Opera as Peter the Honeyman in Porgy & Bess, PROTOTYPE Festival and Trinity Wall Street in Ellen Reid’s dreams of the new world, Symphoria as the tenor soloist in Messiah, Brooklyn Art Song Society for a concert of music by George Gershwin, and returns to Portland Opera as the Visitor in Philip Glass' In the Penal Colony, Cincinnati Opera as Don Curzio in Le nozze di Figaro, and On Site Opera as Genji in the world premiere of Michi Wiancko’s Murasaki’s Moon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His 2019-20 season includes reprisals of the role of Ferrando in Cosí fan tutte with Syracuse Opera and Wynton Marsalis’ Abyssinian Mass with Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, returns to Seattle Opera as Triquet in Eugene Onegin and Fort Worth Opera as Dr. Blind in Die Fledermaus, and his Carnegie Hall debut as the tenor soloist in Carmina Burana with the Cecilia Chorus of New York.
Mr. Bakari's 2017-18 season included debuts with Opéra Louisiane as Tamino in The Magic Flute, On Site Opera as Prince in the NY premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon's Morning Star, Cincinnati Opera as Gastone in La traviata, Michigan Opera Theatre as Scribe/Trash-Talker in Daniel Sonenberg's The Summer King, and a return to Pittsburgh Opera as Castleman in Jeremy Howard Beck's The Long Walk. In the 2016-17 season, Mr. Bakari debuted with Utah Opera as Ricky in The Long Walk and Pittsburgh Opera as Scribe/Trash-Talker in the premiere of The Summer King, covered the leading tenor roles in Charlie Parker's Yardbird with Madison Opera and Ted Hearne's The Source with LA Opera/Beth Morrison Projects, and returned to Portland Opera to sing the leading tenor roles in David Lang's The Little Match Girl Passion and The Difficulty of Crossing a Field. Mr. Bakari also premiered and recorded Grigory Smirnov's song cycle Dowson Songs (Naxos Records) which was featured by Opera News as a "Critic's Choice" recording.
Since 2016, Mr. Bakari has joined NY Harlem Productions for tours of Porgy & Bess as both Sportin' Life and Mingo which have marked his German debuts at Semperoper Dresden, Staatsoper Hamburg, Deutsches Theater München, Alte Oper Frankfurt, and the Kölner Philharmonie, his Israeli debuts in Haifa and Tel Aviv, and his Italian debut at Bari's Teatro Petruzzelli.
As an Emerging Artist with Virginia Opera from 2014 to 2016, Mr. Bakari sang in productions of HMS Pinafore, Salome, Orpheus in the Underworld, La bohème, Roméo et Juliette, and Der fliegende Holländer. Additional 2016 performances included his debuts with Opera Carolina as Benvolio in Roméo et Juliette, the New Hampshire Philharmonic as the tenor soloist in Carmina Burana, Opera Noire of NY as Mingo in Porgy & Bess, and Opera Saratoga as Don Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro, Father in Daniel Catán's Il postino, and the King cover in Philip Glass' The Witches of Venice.
Other notable new music credits include the leading tenor roles of Wissam in Tobin Stokes' Fallujah at the Kennedy Center, Hazel Motes in the premiere of Anthony Gatto's Wise Blood with Walker Art Center, and Lorenzo in the staged premiere of William Bolcom's Lucrezia, Grivet in Tobias Picker's Thérèse Raquin, Katz in Stephen Paulus' The Postman Always Rings Twice, and a national tour of Wynton Marsalis' Abyssinian Mass with Mr. Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and Chorale Le Chateau which was recorded and released on Blue Engine Records (Sony).
Chosen by James Levine to sing in a Tanglewood production of Ariadne auf Naxos, Mr. Bakari spent two summers as a Tanglewood Fellow during which he also performed the leading tenor roles in John Harbison's Full Moon in March under Stefan Asbury and Milhaud's L'enlèvement d'Europe and L'abandon d'Ariane directed by Mark Morris while appearing in several recitals. Of his performance in Full Moon in March, The New York Times wrote, "Bakari mastered completely the high-tension and occasionally melodic vocal writing".
In addition to the George London Competition, Mr. Bakari has received major awards from the Orpheus Vocal Competition, Tanglewood, the Juilliard School, Boston University, and the Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition. He has since been engaged by Palm Beach Opera and has also appeared with Opera North, Opera Ebony, Little Opera Theatre of NY, Pine Mountain Music Festival, and American Opera Projects.
Mr. Bakari is an alumnus of the master's degree program at Juilliard, the B.M. and Opera Institute programs at Boston University, and the study-abroad program at London's Royal College of Music. In addition to the numerous opera and musical theatre roles he performed while in Boston, he was an active concert soloist with performances including Mendelssohn's Elijah at Symphony Hall and a solo concert of Italian songs and arias with the Salem Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Bakari is a native of Yellow Springs, Ohio.