Philip Kraus (born November 17, 1950) is an American operatic baritone and stage director known for his performances with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, starting in 1991, and for his co-founding of Light Opera Works, a professional light opera company in Chicago, in 1980.
Kraus was born in New York City and received early musical training. As a child, he developed a keen interest in the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. In addition to singing, he also composed music and conducted choirs.
Kraus studied music education at Northwestern University and eventually earned a Doctor of Music in Applied Voice from that institution in 1986. He studied voice with tenor Walter Carringer, choral music with Margaret Hillis, and opera with Robert Gay, a disciple of Boris Goldovsky. He participated in the 1974 American premiere of Sir Michael Tippett's The Knot Garden at Northwestern, singing the role of Mangus.
Operatic and concert career
In 1979, Kraus made his professional debut singing the role of the Vicar in Benjamin Britten's Albert Herring with the Chicago Opera Theater. He later played the title role in Gianni Schicchi with the company. With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, in 1979, he sang in Handel's Dettingen Te Deum and the Chicago premiere of American composer Russell Woollen's In Martyrium Memoriam. Also in 1979, he recorded the role of Zweiter Gefangene in Beethoven's Fidelio with the CSO, conducted by Sir Georg Solti.
Kraus began a long association as soloist with the Grant Park Concerts in Chicago in 1979, performing Haydn's Mass in Time of War under conductor Thomas Peck. He followed this singing Elgar's The Kingdom, under Leonard Slatkin, in 1981. Kraus went on to sing with other American orchestras, including the Cleveland Orchestra,Dallas Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and many others, working with conductors Erich Leinsdorf, Eduardo Mata, Bruno Bartoletti, Zdeněk Mácal, Andrew Davis, James Conlon, David Zinman, Claudio Abbado, James Levine, Lukas Foss, Mark Elder, Anton Coppola, Gisele Ben-Dor, and Marin Alsop. He has been a soloist at the Handel Week Festival in Oak Park, Illinois several times, at Mahlerfest in Boulder, Colorado (2001), and sang Felix Mendelssohn's Elijah in 1996 with New Oratorio Singers.
Kraus joined the roster of the Lyric Opera of Chicago for the 1990 season and has remained with the company for many seasons. His roles with the company include Jose Castro in La fanciulla del West (1991), Antonio in The Marriage of Figaro (1992), Micah in The Bartered Bride (1993), Alcindoro in La bohème (1993), the Sacristan in Tosca (1994), Elder MacLean in Susannah (1994), various supporting roles in Candide (1994), Amantio di Nicolao in Gianni Schicchi (1996), Southern Senator in Amistad (1997; world premiere, by composer Anthony Davies), Helmsman in Tristan und Isolde (1999), Meyer Wolfshiem in The Great Gatsby (2000), the Mayor in Jenůfa (2000), Abe Kaplan in Street Scene (2001), Ratcliffe in Billy Budd (2002), Baron Douphol in La Traviata (2003), Benoit/Antonio in The Marriage of Figaro (2003), and Harashta in The Cunning Little Vixen (2004). In the company's 2007-08 season, he played Baron Douphol in La Traviata. In 2010, he played Pish-Tush in The Mikado. The Wall Street Journal said that he brought "appropriate snark" to the role.
In 1995, he sang the title role in Verdi's Rigoletto with Minnesota Opera, and in 1994 sang the Vicar in Albert Herring with Cleveland Opera. He also sang the Sacristan in Tosca with that company in 2002 Recently he joined the roster of the Los Angeles Opera in 2006 singing Baron Duphol in La Traviata in a cast that included Renée Fleming. The production was broadcast by radio station WFMT in Los Angeles. In 2007, Kraus portrayed the composer Antonio Salieri in a concert production of Rimsky-Korsakov's Mozart and Salieri.
Light Opera Works
Kraus, after having been involved with the Northwestern University Gilbert and Sullivan Guild as director, co-founded Light Opera Works in 1980, one of only a few professional companies devoted to the operetta genre in the United States. He served as Artistic Director for 19 seasons directing 38 mainstage productions. Under his artistic direction the company produced Chicago premieres and revivals of Orpheus in the Underworld (1881), The Beautiful Galatea (1982), Naughty Marietta (1983), Utopia, Limited (1984), The Gypsy Baron (1985), The Grand Duke (1992), The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein (1986), Die Fledermaus (1986, 1995), The Chocolate Soldier (1987), Wiener Blut (1989), Babes in Toyland (1993), La vie parisienne (1984), The Golden Apple (1995), The Czardas Princess (1990) and Emmerich Kalman's little-known The Duchess of Chicago (1998). While Kraus was artistic director, the company also produced stage works of Kurt Weill, including Lady in the Dark (1989), Knickerbocker Holiday (1992), and One Touch of Venus (1997), some of which had been little seen by to modern audiences. He also produced all 13 extant Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas during his tenure with company.
Director, translator and educator
Kraus served as resident stage director for the Pamiro Opera in Green Bay, Wisconsin from 1988 to 1996, directing productions of L'Italiana in Algeri (1988), The Merry Widow (1989), The Daughter of the Regiment (1990),Die Fledermaus (1991), The Magic Flute (1992), La Traviata (1993), Madama Butterfly (1994), Rigoletto (1995), and the world premiere of Gordon Parmentier's The Lost Dauphin (2000), which was videotaped by Wisconsin Public Television for broadcast.
For the Chicago Cultural Center, he directed Poulenc's The Breasts of Tiresias in 2000 and Mozart's The Impresario in 2001 for which he prepared the English translation. At the Lyric Opera Cleveland, he directed Patience, by Gilbert and Sullivan, in 2002, and The Mikado in 2004, in his 1986 Elizabethan concept.
Kraus has prepared several English singing translations of operas and operettas in collaboration with lyricist Gregory Opelka. These include Oscar Straus' The Chocolate Soldier and A Waltz Dream  and Kalman's The Duchess of Chicago. Other translations include La Serva Padrona, Orpheus in the Underworld, Gianni Schicchi, Suor Angelica, The Coronation of Poppea and The Land of Smiles.
From 1982 to 1987, Kraus served as the Director of the De Paul University Opera Theater in Chicago. He then taught applied voice at De Paul from 1993 to 1999. From 1999-2002 Kraus served as the Director of Opera at Roosevelt University in Chicago. Kraus has been a Lecturer at Northwestern University School of music in the opera program since 2005, and he teaches at North Park University in Chicago as well.
- Review of The Knot Garden by Alan Swanson in Opera News, April 13, 1974 p. 23
- "'Albert Herring' warm, tuneful and humorous", by Valerie Scher; review of Albert Herring in the Chicago Sun Times, April 13, 1979
- Undated review of Gianni Schicchi from the Memphis Flyer interactive website (Issue 582)
- Chicago Symphony Orchestra Program Booklet, 88th Season, 15th Subscription Week, Jan. 25-27, 1979
- Lists cast of recording of Fidelio
- "Grant Park Chorus lifts voices in Edwardian fest", by John Von Rhein; review of Haydn Mass in the Chicago Tribune, Aug. 18, 1979
- "Levine puts passion in CSO's 'Onegin'", by John Von Rhein; review in the Chicago Tribune, July 1981 (includes a review of the Grant Park performance of The Kingdom)
- "H.M.S. Pinafore given smooth sailing", by Donald Rosenberg; review in The Plain Dealer, Aug. 3, 1993
- Boris Godunov in 1997
- "'Bartered Bride' lacks the elements", by John Von Rhein; review in the Chicago Tribune, Oct. 12, 1992, p. 14
- Review in the Chicago Tribune, dated August 7, 1990
- "Singers, staging enhance Lyric's 'Figaro'", by Joseph Cunniff; review in the Hyde Park Herald, Oct. 23, 1991
- Epoch Times review: "La Traviata – World Renowned Cast"
- "Opera Alfresco", by Ted Shen; review of La Traviata in The Reader Aug. 14, 1982
- "Kinetic force, opera stars make oratorio entertaining at Ravinia", by John Von Rhein: review in the Chicago Tribune, July 10, 1978
- "Foss, MSO deliver spirit of Requiem", by Tom Strini; review in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan.20, 1996
- "Coppola keeps Verdi straight, but the artistry does sink in", by Clarke Bustard'; review in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, March 17, 1997 p. E5
- "'Verdi Requiem' given powerful performances by SB Symphony", by Kenneth E. Bartlett; review in the Valley Voice, May 24, 1995
- "CSO Chorus sines as it pays homage to Mozart", by Marc Shulgold; review in the Rocky Mountain News, March 16, 1996
- Handel Week Festival listing of soloists
- Information from the Mahlerfest website
- Note on the Elijah performance
- Skrebneski, Victor. Bravi: Lyric Opera of Chicago Abbeville Publishing Group, New York (1994) ISBN 1-55859-771-9. Gives dates of performances by Kraus from 1991 to 1994.
- review of Candide in Opera News
- Information from Lyric Opera website re: 1990-99 seasons
- review of Street Scene
- Information from Lyric Opera website re: 2000-04 seasons
- Fanfaire website listing for Marriage of Figaro
- Reviews of The Cunning Little Vixen
- From the Lyric Opera website
- Johnson, Lawrence A. "A largely enjoyable Mikado this, at Lyric Opera". Chicago Classical Review, December 7, 2010
- Waleson, Heidi. "Taking Gilbert & Sullivan Seriously". The Wall Street Journal, January 12, 2011
- "Britten's "Albert Herring' is the operatic catch of the day", by Donald Rosenberg; review in The Plain Dealer, April 10, 1994
- Information from the FanFaire website listing for Tosca
- See this review of La Traviata in Epoch Times.com. See also this review of the production in Variety.
- WFMT's website
- Announcement of the concert
- Article noting milestones in Chicago theatre
- Article on Grand Duchess (not free)
- Assistant director's resume mentions that Kraus directed this production
- Article on The Chocolate Soldier (not free)
- Lists Babes in Toyland and Iolanthe directed by Kraus
- Article on The Duchess of Chicago (not free)
- "Pamiro delights full house", review of L'Italiana in Algeri by Terence O'Grady in the Green Bay Press-Gazette, September 24, 1988
- "Merry Widow" is a Pamiro Pleaser", review of The Merry Widow by Terence O'Grady in the Green Bay Press-Gazette September 18, 1989
- "'Daughter" delights eye and ear", review by Michael Bent in the Appleton Post-Crescent September 1990
- "Solid performances let audience soar with 'The Bat'", review by Terence O'Grady in the Green Bay Press-Gazette, September 16, 1991
- "'The Magic Flute' performs magic throughout opera", review by Terence O'Grady in the Green Bay Press-Gazette, September 1992
- "Pamiro brings arias to the area", review of La Traviata by Michael Bent in the Appleton Post-Crescent, September 14, 1993 p. D-5
- "Pamiro Opera Growing in Stature", review of Madama Butterfly by Erik Eriksson in the Door County Advocate, September 15, 1994 Section 1 p. 14
- "Pamiro, baritone soar in updated 'Rigoletto'", review by Terence O'Grady in the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Oct. 1, 1995 p. B-5
- "'Lost Dauphin' an extraordinary find", review by Erik Eriksson in the Green Bay News-Chronicle May 26, 2000, Variety Section p. 26 (note: this review mentions that the opera was recorded for both public radio and public television.)
- Performer resume mentions that Kraus directed the production
- Review of Patience
- Review of this concept production of The Mikado
- Review of North Star Opera's The Chocolate Soldier with Kraus' libretto
- A Waltz Dream reviewed by Kathleen Tobin in The Beverly Review, July 15, 1992
- Information about a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania production of Duchess in 2007
- Bulletin, p. 269
- Performer resume mentions Kraus teaching voice at DePaul
- p. 320 Faculty, Administration and Board of Trustees
- Faculty profiles
- International Who's Who in Music and Musicians Directory, 1990-1991, Twelfth Edition, edited by David M. Cummings and Dennis K. McIntire; p. 475. ISBN 0-948875-20-8
- Official Philip Kraus Website
- Light Opera Works: A Historical Retrospective 1981-1999
- Chicago Concert Artists Website
- Profile of Kraus from Los Angeles Opera
- 2012 profile of Kraus from Handel Week Festival