Bass-baritone Derrell Acon is a uniquely accomplished performer whose repertoire ranges from the comic to the tragic and even the sensual. Recent roles include Leporello in Don Giovanni (which he has performed at the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival and Queen City Opera), Don Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia (which he has performed internationally with La Compagnia di BelCanto di Milano and also with New York City’s Christman Opera Company), Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte (which he has performed as a young artist with the Glimmerglass Festival), and Ramfis in Aïda (which he covered at the Glimmerglass Festival). During the 2017–2018 season, Mr. Acon reprises Sarastro in Portland Opera to Go’s touring production of The Magic Flute and makes two joint role and company debuts, first as Escamillo in Opera Ithaca’s Carmen, and then as Rocco in Heartbeat Opera’s Fidelio.
Mr. Acon has proven himself a persuasive advocate for American opera of the 20th and 21st centuries. He is strongly identified with Terence Blanchard and Michael Cristofer’s opera Champion, having performed the role of Young Emile for Cincinnati Opera’s 2012 Opera Fusion: New Works initiative, as well as covering the role of Old Emile for the piece’s world premiere with Opera Theatre of St. Louis the following year. He also developed and performed the role of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Glimmerglass Festival’s workshop of the 2015 revised edition of Philip Glass’ Appomattox. Mr. Acon has also joined the NY Harlem Productions’ 2016 & 2017 tours of Porgy and Bess, making his debuts at Semperoper Dresden, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Deutsches Theater München, Kölner Philharmonie, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Haifa Congress Center, Tel-Aviv Charles Bronfman Hall, and Teatro Petruzzelli di Bari in the roles of Jake and Jim.
Mr. Acon has fulfilled young artist residencies with the Glimmerglass Festival, Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, La Musica Lirica International Festival, Opera North, Music Academy of the West, Chautauqua Music Festival, and the Wesley Balk Opera/Music-Theater Institute. He has had the privilege of participating in masterclasses with Warren Jones (Carnegie Hall) and both Mr. Jones and Denyce Graves (MTNA National Convention).
A frequent award recipient on the competition circuit, he has earned first place in the 2017 NATS Artist Awards Competition, Central Region; first prize in the 2015 Nicholas Loren Competition; third prize in the Harlem Opera Theater Competition; first prize in the “Dueling Divas” competition held at the Trout Museum in Appleton, WI; both first place and Grand Prize Awards in Chicago’s Bel Canto Foundation Opera Contest in 2010, as well as their “Rising Star” award in 2009. As winner of the 2009 Neale Silva Young Artists Competition, Mr. Acon was heard on public radio in a broadcast performance of recital performance. Mr. Acon has also placed as both a Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions regional finalist and encouragement award winner in 2011 and 2015.
Mr. Acon earned both a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Voice, with a cognate in 19th-century opera history and performance, and a Master of Music degree in Voice from the University of Cincinnati College–Conservatory of Music (CCM). He graduated summa cum laude from Lawrence University and Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government with a minor in Ethnic Studies. He has been a 2011 recipient of a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and is a 2013–2014 Fulbright Scholar to Italy, researching the operas of Giuseppe Verdi.