Grammy Award-winner to perform Dayton Opera Star Recital at Schuster Center

Credit: Daniel Welch

Credit: Daniel Welch

Grammy Award-winning baritone Will Liverman will deliver the Dayton Opera Star Recital Sunday, June 2 at the Schuster Center.

Growing up in Virginia Beach, Va., Liverman, 36, was forever changed by a high school trip to New York City to visit the Metropolitan Opera, which fueled his love of opera performance. After graduating from the Governor’s School for the Arts, he would eventually earn a Bachelor of Music degree from Wheaton College in Illinois and a Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School.

This season, Liverman appeared at the Metropolitan Opera in the title role of Anthony Davis’ “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X,” the third opera by a Black composer in the company’s history which was notably conducted by Kazem Abdullah, who grew up in Dayton, in its newly-revised score. He was previously seen on the Met stage opening its 2021-22 season in his acclaimed portrayal of Charles in Terence Blanchard’s “Fire Shut Up In My Bones,” which won the 2023 Grammy for Best Opera Recording. He later reprised the role at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

In advance of his recital, Liverman reflected on his love of opera and how he hopes the art form will evolve for future generations.

Q: You have said that opera is an “alien art form that kind of just hits you in a certain way that no other art form does.” Why has opera been so impactful for you and when did you realize you could see yourself pursuing a career in opera?

A: Opera was unlike anything else I’d seen on stage because it encompasses all other art forms (such as) the orchestra, big costumes, dance, acting and singing. The heart of it was the way in which I heard opera singers sing: unamplified. The impact the human voice has when you train your instrument to be able to project in a large space, the sound that it produces, struck me and I knew it was something I wanted to pursue.

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Q: Can you describe the magnitude of your participation in ‘Fire Shut Up In My Bones?’ Also, did the opera change your perspective on what opera could be?

A: I never envisioned doing something like ‘Fire Shut Up In My Bones’, ‘Malcolm X’ or other pieces that happened after the death of George Floyd that were talking about inclusion and diversity on both sides of the opera world, which has brought about a lot of works that have been kind of hidden in the back. Great BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) composers like Florence Price and Margaret Barnes are now at the forefront. All of the things that were happening post-pandemic ushered in these new, diverse works, and I got swept up in that chapter. It is an honor to be a part of this movement and do it on one of the world’s biggest stages.

Q: How important is Black representation in opera? And In order for opera to resonate for future generations what needs to be done to ensure its longevity?

A: We have a lot more work to do. I’m hopeful for what’s in store. We’re at a pivotal moment now but where are we headed next? Is it just moments in time in which we’re responding to society and then go back to our regularly scheduled warhorses? Or are we really going to create space for new works and move forward how we should? But, overall, I’m very happy and I take great pride in being a champion of new works by BIPOC composers using the time I have in my prime years to take my energy to bring about new things. I love the classics like ‘La Bohème’ and “The Barber of Seville’ but those are already etched in history. And to bring in new audiences, we have to tell stories where people can really see themselves, which is very powerful and important in order to make the art form to thrive.

Q: As for your upcoming Dayton Opera recital, can you describe your selection process and what you hope the recital conveys for you as an artist?

A: This recital will represent all the things I’m very passionate about. I love to program classic arias as well as songs by Leslie Adams and Florence Price. This type of program really represents who I am holistically as an artist and what I think an artist should be. Black singers can do more than sing spirituals or do ‘Porgy and Bess’ or only sing works by Black composers. We can do that and also sing Schubert while also being very conscious of representation. I want to be that visibility and put that at the forefront of my platforms. It will also showcase my storytelling and how I like to engage with audiences.

How to go

What: Dayton Opera Star Recital: Will Liverman featuring pianist Jonathan King

When: 2:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: Schuster Center, 1 W. Second St., Dayton

Cost: $5-$88.50

More info: 937-228-3630 or

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