Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Seattle Opera appoints Kenneth Kellogg
inaugural Artistic Ambassador

Kellogg to succeed Scholar-in-Residence Naomi André,
who concludes five-year term in May 2024

Seattle Opera's new Artistic Ambassador, Kenneth Kellogg, as Malcolm X in X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X in 2024. © Sunny Martini.

General Director Christina Scheppelmann announced today the appointment of bass Kenneth Kellogg as Seattle Opera’s inaugural Artistic Ambassador. Kellogg, who recently completed a triumphant run as Malcolm X in X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, takes over for Naomi André, who concludes her impactful five-year term as Seattle Opera’s first Scholar-in-Residence at the end of the 2023/24 season. Kellogg begins in the role in May 2024. “Kenneth has a unique combination of qualities that makes him a perfect fit to serve as Seattle Opera’s new Artistic Ambassador,” said Scheppelmann. “His distinguished singing career gives him a clear vision of the industry, his thorough knowledge of history informs every aspect of his work, and he is committed to the transformative power of music as a community resource. We are lucky to continue our relationship with Kenneth in this additional capacity.”

As Artistic Ambassador, Kellogg will serve as a representative of Seattle Opera in the community, engaging directly with audiences and participating in Seattle Opera events. Kellogg will also advise Seattle Opera’s staff on the company’s racial equity initiatives and community partnerships, always with an eye toward making opera a vital and meaningful aspect of the lives of audience members across the Pacific Northwest.

“Seattle Opera is honored to welcome an artist of Kenneth’s caliber as an Artistic Ambassador,” said Dennis Robinson Jr., Seattle Opera’s Director of Programs and Partnerships. “Not only is Kenneth a phenomenal musician, but he is also an inspiring spokesperson for opera and the arts in general. I look forward to working with Kenneth in this new capacity, and I’m excited for our community to get to know him and his work beyond the opera stage.”

Audiences will have their first opportunity to hear from Kellogg in a May 9 Opera Talk in conversation with Naomi André, where he will share his perspective as a leading voice in opera and chart a bright future for the art form.

The conversation will also provide an opportunity to reflect on André’s time as Scholar-in-Residence, which Scheppelmann sees as a model for such roles in the future. “I am very grateful to Naomi André for five wonderful years as Seattle Opera’s first Scholar-in-Residence,” said Scheppelmann. “Her knowledge and enthusiasm about opera provided consistent insight into the art form, and she was simply a joy to work with. We couldn’t have asked for a better person to fill that role.”

For Kellogg, sharing his passion and love of music with everyone is central to his conception of the role. “When I think of my role as Artistic Ambassador, I think about my elementary school teacher,” said Kellogg. “I could always see how much she loved music, and that enthusiasm set me on the path to where I am today. Music has been such a blessing to my life, and I hope simply to exude the same infectious spirit that my elementary school teacher shared with me.”

Kellogg’s work with Seattle Opera began in 2021, when he appeared as the Commendatore in the filmed version of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni. In 2022, Kellogg appeared as The Father in Tazewell Thompson and Jeanine Tesori’s Blue, a role that Kellogg has described as “a game-changer” for his life and career. Kellogg returned in 2023 as Fafner in Richard Wagner’s Das Rheingold before taking the stage as civil rights icon Malcolm X in 2024’s “unflinching” (The Seattle Times) production of Anthony Davis’s X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X.

Kellogg’s on-stage appearances have been accompanied by work with communities in the Puget Sound region. In February, in conjunction with X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, Kellogg worked with incarcerated people at the Monroe Correctional Complex, where he shared his experiences as an opera singer and participated in discussions about Malcolm X’s life and legacy. In 2022, Kellogg appeared alongside fellow cast members from Blue for an Opera Talk moderated by Classical KING’s Quinton Morris.

Kellogg looks forward to continuing this community work as Artistic Ambassador. “Opera has the power to be a truly community-based art form—a place where people can see themselves represented in a larger-than-life space, feel comfortable, and feel welcomed. Making opera matter on that level, with every production we mount, will connect us to the humanity of our community.”

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