Daniel Okulitch (born January 30, 1976) is a Canadian bass-baritone. He first came to attention on Broadway as Schaunard in Baz Luhrmann's production of La bohème in 2002/03 – a role he repeated when the production traveled to Los Angeles the following year, for which he received the Ovation Award for Best Ensemble Performance from the Los Angeles Stage Alliance. He has since begun an international career with opera companies and orchestras throughout Europe and North America, and is admired for both his singing and powerful stage presence. He is sought after for many contemporary operas and world premieres, as well as the roles of Mozart, including Figaro and Don Giovanni.
Education and early career
Okulitch was born in Ottawa, Ontario and was raised in Calgary, Alberta, where he had his operatic debut at the age of 12 while still a boy soprano in the role of Amahl in Amahl and the Night Visitors with Calgary Opera, followed by one of the 3 spirits in The Magic Flute. He continued to perform throughout his teens, and at age 19 transferred to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music to study with acclaimed pedagogue Richard Miller, where he gained a Bachelor of Music and a Masters in Opera Theater. He then continued his education at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, under the tutelage of William McGraw. During these years he apprenticed with the Des Moines Metro Opera, the Cincinnati Opera, and in the San Francisco Opera Merola Program.
In 2002, Okulitch was cast as Schaunard in the Baz Luhrmann production of Puccini's La bohème, which premiered at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco, and performed on Broadway for 228 performances. He made his debut in 2003 at the San Francisco Opera in the role of Donald Gallup in The Mother of Us All, and in 2004 he performed again in Los Angeles as Schaunard in La bohème.
In 2004 Okulitch performed a season opening gala for the Connecticut Grand Opera alongside international opera diva Verónica Villarroel. For his Carnegie Hall début in April 2004, he performed Ralph Vaughan Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem, and was lauded for his performance of Lev Nikolaevich in the world premiere of Guest from the Future by Mel Marvin at the Bard Music Festival.
Okulitch's 2004/05 season began with his return to San Francisco Opera as The Bosun in Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd, followed by a recording of Chausson's Le roi Arthus with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London, and by the roles of Friedrich Baeher in Little Women at Fort Worth Opera, Demetrius in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream with Utah Opera, Masetto in Don Giovanni with Opéra de Marseille, and Laski in Chabrier's Le roi malgré lui at Avery Fisher Hall with the American Symphony Orchestra.
Okulitch's 2005/06 season began with Schaunard in La bohème with Manitoba Opera, immediately followed by Schlemil in Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann at Dallas Opera, the critically acclaimed title role debut of Joseph De Rocher in Dead Man Walking at the Calgary Opera, Masetto with Vancouver Opera, and Blitch in Floyd's Susannah with the Boheme Opera in New Jersey. He closed the season with his long-awaited role debut as Don Giovanni at the French festival Lyrique-en-Mer in Belle Île.
In 2006/07 Okulitch was heard again as Giovanni with Opera Ontario and Hawaii Opera Theatre, and created the role of Inspector Gert Osterland in the world premiere of Thomas Pasatieri's Frau Margot at the Fort Worth Opera.
Okulitch's career continued to grow in the 2007/2008 season in which he made his role debut at the Detroit Opera House in the title role of Le nozze di Figaro, performed Schaunard in La bohème in Phoenix, Colline in the same opera in Vancouver, and the world premiere of David DiChiera's Cyrano at the Michigan Opera Theatre.
In March 2011, he released his first solo album, The New American Art Song, featuring world premiere songs by Ricky Ian Gordon, Jake Heggie, Lowell Liebermann and Glen Roven who all accompany Okulitch on piano. Simultaneous with the record release, the songs were performed in a concert at Carnegie Hall, again with the composers accompanying (except Heggie).
Daniel Okulitch is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, including First Prize from the George London Foundation in 2004, a grant from the Sullivan Foundation 2004, 2nd Prize from the Licia Albanese/Puccini Foundation Competition, First Prize from the Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation in 2004, a Grant from the Singers Development Fund in 2003, 5th Prize in the Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition in 2002, and was a Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions in 2000 and 2001. He is a 2006 and 2008 recipient of a Canada Council Grant for Professional Musicians and received the Andrew White Memorial Award and a Corbett Award while a student at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.
- Baz Luhrmann's La bohème (Highlights from the 2002 Original Broadway Cast) DreamWorks 2002
- Le roi Arthus (Ernest Chausson) Telarc 2005
- Frau Margot Thomas Pasatieri Albany Records 2007
- The New American Art Song, GPR Records (2011)
- "La bohème's Daniel Okulitch to Give Carnegie Hall Recital Celebrating New Solo Album" by Thomas Peter, Playbill (29 January 2011)