Sanford Sylvan (born 1953 in New York City), is an American baritone. A graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, he made his Glyndebourne Festival debut in 1994 as Leporello in Don Giovanni by Mozart.
He has performed with many leading conductors, opera companies and orchestras including Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera, New York City Opera, the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouworkest, Melbourne Symphony and the NHK Symphony. He has performed at the Edinburgh, Marlboro, Tanglewood, Vienna, Holland, Oregon Bach and Carmel Bach festivals. He played Chou En-Lai in Nixon in China by John Adams.
Sylvan received five Grammy nominations: Fussell's Wilde (2009); Adams's The Wound-Dresser (1990), which was written for Sylvan; Fauré's L'horizon chimérique (1999); Beloved That Pilgrimage (1992); and the soundtrack for the Penny Woolcock film of Adams' opera, The Death of Klinghoffer (2003). He has premiered a number of works by Adams, Philip Glass, Peter Maxwell-Davies, John Harbison and Christopher Rouse.
A frequent collaborator with the director Peter Sellars, he appeared in Sellars' re-imaginings of Mozart's Cosi fan tutte and Le nozze di Figaro, aforementioned operas of John Adams and, in 2009, Adams's A Flowering Tree presented at Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival. Along with his performing schedule, he is also a professor of voice at The Juilliard School and McGill University Schulich School of Music in Montréal, Canada and the Bard Conservatory Graduate Vocal Arts Program.
In 1998, Sylvan was profiled by journalist Allan Ulrich in The Advocate about his commitment to contemporary music and his 1996 wedding to his same-sex partner, shortly before coming out publicly in The New York Times.
- Ulrich, Allan (21 July 1998), "Master Singer", The Advocate: 65
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