Praised for his “expressive, resonant voice" (Sun-Times) and his "powerful, beautiful and well controlled sound," (Opera Lively) bass-baritone Richard Ollarsaba [o-yar-SA-ba], is quickly gaining ground in the operatic and concert arenas. He recently finished his residency with the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he recently stepped into the title role in their 2014 production of Don Giovanni as well as the Major-Domo in Capriccio. Previous production at LOC include Der Rosenkavalier, Anna Bolena, Tosca, The Passenger, Otello, Madama Butterfly, Parsifal, La traviata and the world-premiere of Bel Canto. In his time in Chicago, Richard performed at the Grant Park Music Festival and the Ravinia Festival and with such ensembles as Apollo Chorus of Chicago, Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra, and Civic Orchestra of Chicago.
Engagements for last season included his return to Lyric Opera of Chicago for productions of Lucia di Lammermoor, Les troyens, and Carmen, covering the role of Timur in Turandot with Opera Philadelphia, and returning to Wolf Trap Opera as Luciano in Bastianello, Angelotti in Tosca, and Asdrubale in La pietra del paragone. The 2017-2018 season and beyond includes the title role in Le nozze di Figaro with Minnesota Opera, Pistola in Falstaff with both Opera Omaha and Intermountain Opera, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor with Virginia Opera, Intermountain Opera, and his debut with The Dallas Opera.
Richard was a resident artist with Minnesota Opera in 2012-2013, where he performed the roles of Rochefort in Anna Bolena and Timur in Turandot. While in Minnesota, Richard performed with the esteemed St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in performances of Handel’s Messiah under the baton of the SPCO former Principal Conductor and Music Director, Hugh Wolff. He returned to Minnesota Opera to perform the role of Escamillo in Carmen, wrapping-up their 2014-2015 season. The previous season, Richard debuted with Tulsa Opera in the same role for their production of Carmen. “As Escamillo the bull fighter, Richard Ollarsaba makes you believe he could halt a charging bull with the power of his voice [...] the way he conveys the suspense of a corrida in “Votre Toast” (better known as the “Toreador” song) is most effective” (Tulsa World).
Richard is a 2016 Luminarts Foundation Competition winner, a 2015 winner of the American Opera Society of Chicago Scholarship Competition, the 2014 winner of the American Opera Society of Chicago Scholarship Competition, and a 2013 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions grand finalist. He has participated as a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center (soloist in Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, 50th Anniversary Gala PBS telecast) and Music Academy of the West.
Richard earned his Bachelor of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music and holds a post-graduate certificate and Master of Music degree from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In North Carolina, Richard debuted with Piedmont Opera in the role of Ferrando in Il trovatore and subsequently was seen in productions of Don Giovanni as Masetto and Robert Ward's The Crucible as Reverend Hale. He reprised the role in Il trovatore in his debut with North Carolina Opera. Richard was 1st place winner in the Charles A. Lynam Vocal Competition, earning him featured solo performances with the Greensboro Symphony in which he was applauded for his "wonderful artistry and beautiful moving voice" (CVNC).