Baritone Michael Mayes (source:

A conversation with baritone Michael Mayes

Mark Gresham | 19 OCT 2020

Baritone Michael Mayes has become a familiar presence at The Atlanta Opera over the last few seasons. He made is Atlanta debut in a production of Sweeny Todd, in the gruesome title role, returned to powerfully portray Joseph DeRocher in Dead Man Walking, and was scheduled to co-direct and portray Vietnam veteran Colonel Jim Thompson in Glory Denied, originally planned for Spring 2021 but which has been postponed.

Beginning later this week, Mayes portrays the title role of Kaiser Uberall in The Kaiser of Atlantis, part of The Atlanta Opera’s outdoor Big Tent Series. Opening night is Friday, October 23, one day after the company opens the season with Pagliacci — the two productions alternate performance dates. In addition to being an Artistic Advisor for the company since 2018, Mayes is one of the 12 singers in the new Atlanta Opera Company Players.

↓ scroll down to listen to audio ↓

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That Mayes’ presence in productions by The Atlanta Opera is not entirely surprising. He and TAO artistic and general director Tomer Zvulun have worked together professionally since 2014, when they were involved in a production of Rigoletto presented by Boston Lyric Opera. Since then they have become good friends beyond their professional collaborations.

Zvulun writes the following about Mayes:

Michael Mayes, in his natural state.

Michael Mayes, in his natural state.

“Mike Mayes is in my mind one of the greatest singing actors of our time. We first collaborated on a new production of Rigoletto in Boston in 2014 and established a close friendship/partnership since then. We created a new Dead Man Walkling in New Orleans Opera in 2016 that traveled to Atlanta and Israel, He came to Atlanta in 2018 to make his role debut in Sweeney Todd, made his Houston debut in my production of Rigoletto in Houston in 2019 and was to co-direct Glory Denied with me in Atlanta (a show we had to postpone due to covid19), I invited him to be on our Artistic Advisory board in 2018 and he is obviously a critical member of our company of players.”

In addition to his career as an baritone in operas and musicals, the Texas-born South Carolinian is an accomplished performer of roots genres such as bluegrass and country. (A brief snippet of example can be heard in the interview.)

We connected for conversation with Mayes on October 5, a day off from his rehearsals for The Kaiser from Atlantis, so we were able to talk with him at length via Skype. Within the almost 32-minute audio stream below is much of what he had to say:

 Listen to Mark Gresham’s interview with Michael Mayes

The Atlanta Opera is presenting Pagliacci and The Kaiser of Atlantis in alternating performance dates beginning this week and running through mid-November.

  • Pagliacci will be performed October 22, 24, 28, 30 and November 1, 5, 7, 11 & 13
  • The Kaiser of Atlantis will be performed October 23, 25, 29, 31 and November 4, 6, 8, 12, & 14.

In addition, three special one-night concert performances are being offered by the Company:

  • Mack the Knife: An Evening of Kurt Weill on October 27
  • Mezzo Extravaganza on November 10
  • Crossroads: A Variety Show on November 15

All dates are within calendar year 2020. For more information visit The Atlanta Opera’s “Performances” webpage or click on the Atlanta Opera graphic display ad on this webpage.  ■

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