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 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 2015-16 at Michigan Opera Theatre as Rodolfo in La bohème and continues the season in a return engagement with the Washington National Opera as The Leader in Lost in the Stars, Kurt Weill’s gripping musical tragedy based on Alan Paton’s classic 1948 novel Cry, the Beloved Country, directed by Tazewell Thompson and conducted by John DeMain.  Frequently showcased in contemporary music, the tenor creates the role of Agent Henry Rathbone in David T. Little’s JFK at the Fort Worth Opera and assays the title role of Jack Perla’s Shalimar the Clown when Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents the world premiere conducted by Jayce Ogren and directed by the company’s Artistic Director James Robinson.  Symphonic highlights of the season include Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette with David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.


    Sean Panikkar bowed at the Metropolitan Opera last season as Molqi in John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer conducted by David Robertson in a powerful new production by director Tom Morris (War Horse) and made his debut at Teatro alla Scala in the world premiere of Giorgio Battistelli’s CO2 in a new production directed by Robert Carsen and conducted by Cornelius Meister.  Mr. Panikkar gave a role debut as Nikolaus Sprink in Silent Night at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and returned to the Glimmerglass Festival as Tamino in a new production of The Magic Flute.


    Sean Panikkar is a member of Forte, the operatic tenor group combining voices from different cultures into one incredible sound.  The trio was created and debuted for the first time ever on America’s 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, La bohème staged by Francesca Zambello at the Royal Albert Hall in London, the title role of Béatrice et Bénèdict with Opera Boston, The Magic Flute at 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, Pittsburgh Opera, and Opera Colorado.  Additional operatic credits feature 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, and Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Grapes of Wrath with the American Symphony Orchestra for the tenor’s Carnegie Hall debut.


    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, Händel’s Messiah with Ragnar Bohlin and the San Francisco 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 was 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. 


© Sean Panikkar 2016

Biography