Sean Panikkar is recognized for his “surpassing musicality and passion, commanding self-confidence and gorgeous expression.”  The American tenor of Sri Lankan heritage made his Metropolitan Opera debut in the 2007-08 season under the baton of James Levine in Manon Lescaut (commercially available on DVD on EMI), and his European operatic debut in Mozart’s Zaïde at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in a production directed by Peter Sellars and conducted by Louis Langrée (commercially available on DVD on Opus Arte).

        Sean Panikkar opens the 2014-2015 operatic season at the Metropolitan Opera performing the role of Molqi in John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer conducted by David Robertson in a powerful new production by director Tom Morris (War Horse) and makes a debut at Teatro alla Scala in the world premiere of Giorgio Battistelli's CO₂ in a production by Robert Carsen, playing the roles of Adam and Indian Temple Singer. Mr. Panikkar continues his season at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City in a role debut as Nikolaus Sprink in Silent Night, and returns to the Glimmerglass Festival singing Tamino in a new production of The Magic Flute. 

        Mr. Panikkar’s 2013-14 season operatic engagements included the roles of Rodolfo in a new production of La bohème staged by Francesca Zambello at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Macduff in Macbeth at Palm Beach Opera, Tamino in The Magic Flute in a return to Pittsburgh Opera, as well as what has come to be one of his signature parts, Nadir in Les pêcheurs de perles, for Fort Worth Opera.  The artist’s busy concert schedule included performances of Schubert’s Mass No. 6 in E-flat Major with Hans Graf and the Milwaukee Symphony, Stravinsky’s Perséphone with Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Ken-David Masur and the San Diego Symphony, and Händel’s Messiah with Ragnar Bohlin and the San Francisco Symphony.

Sean Panikkar is a member of Forte, a new operatic tenor group combining voices from different cultures into one incredible sound.  The trio was created and debuted for the first time ever on Americas Got Talent and had never met until only days before their first audition. During the summer 2013 broadcasts of America’s Got Talent, Forte was seen and heard by tens of millions of television viewers in national broadcasts on NBC.  Their self-titled debut recording on Columbia Records was released in November 2013.

        Highlights of recent seasons include a new production of Nabucco at Washington National Opera, the title role of Béatrice et Bénédict with Opera Boston, Weill’s Lost in the Stars at the Glimmerglass Festival, Salome both at Washington National Opera in the company’s new Francesca Zambello production and at the Saito Kinen Festival in performances conducted by Omer Meir Wellber, a debut at Santa Fe Opera as Kodanda in a new production of Menotti’s rarely produced The Last Savage directed by Ned Canty and conducted by George Manahan, Cassio in a new production of Otello, conducted by Graeme Jenkins and directed by Tim Albery, to open the Winspear Opera House at the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts, Don Giovanni and Les pêcheurs de perles at Pittsburgh Opera, Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Grapes of Wrath with the American Symphony Orchestra in his Carnegie Hall debut, and both Lensky in Eugene Onegin and Count Almaviva in The Ghosts of Versailles with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

        Mr. Panikkar’s numerous engagements with the Metropolitan Opera feature the roles of Tybalt in Roméo et Juliette sharing the stage with Hei-Kyung Hong and Piotr Beczala under the baton of Plácido Domingo, Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor conducted by Marco Armiliato, Brighella in Ariadne auf Naxos led by Kirill Petrenko, Prunier in La rondine, and Cassio in Otello.  A graduate of the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship Program, Mr. Panikkar’s many performances with that Company include roles in The Queen of Spades, Le Pauvre Matelot, The Maid of Orleans, Manon Lescaut, Tristan und Isolde, Fidelio, Norma, and Die Zauberflöte.

        Symphonic performances include Tristan und Isolde with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Michael Christie and the Phoenix Symphony, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Raymond Leppard and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and with Alasdair Neale at the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (in the chamber arrangement by Arnold Schoenberg) with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra at the Ojai Festival,  and Tchaikovsky’s Duet from Romeo and Juliet with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.  He also has joined Esa-Pekka Salonen, Peter Sellars, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic for The Tristan Project in Los Angeles and at Lincoln Center.

        Sean Panikkar has been honored by the George London Foundation with the 2007 Robert Jacobson Memorial Award and a 2009 George London Award; he also is a First Prize winner of the 2010 Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, and second place winner in the 2009 International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition.  He is a former member of the Pittsburgh Opera Center, Central City Opera Studio Artist program, and Seagle Music Colony.   He holds Master’s and Bachelor degrees in Voice Performance from the University of Michigan. 


Bill Palant


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© Sean Panikkar 2015