Engagements in the 2016/17 season have included the world premiere of the opera version of Kurt Vonnegut’s play HAPPY BIRTHDAY WANDA JUNE at Indianapolis Opera with, set to music by Richard Aulden Clark. His season continued with an invitation to Opera Company of Middlebury’s 10th Anniversary Season Gala singing the role of Sarastro THE MAGIC FLUTE, a return to Opera in Williamsburg as Count Monterone RIGOLETTO and performances as guest bass soloist for the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s lecture series at Lincoln Center. He sang two performances Messiah in the Tidewater area in December, at the Williamsburg UMC and with Symphonicity’s sing-along at the Sandler Center and was heard as William Dale in Opera San Jose’s production of SILENT NIGHT in January and February of 2017. Upcoming engagements include Angelotti and Sciarrone TOSCA at Bozeman Opera, the Vet ANIMAL TALES for Ardea Arts and the world premiere of AN EXTRA PENNY at Louisburg College in North Carolina.
In 2015-16 season, Branch performed Jim Larkens and Billy Jackrabbit LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST at Opera Omaha, Commendatore and Masetto DON GIOVANNI with Opera in Williamsburg, Pirate King PIRATES OF PENZANCE at Amarillo Opera, Colline LA BOHÈME in Ft. Myers with the Gulf Coast Symphony, and was a guest artist in a concert of opera and spirituals with the Williamsburg Choral Guild. He was invited back to Virginia Repertory Theater to sing “Some Enchanted Evening” with the Richmond Symphony, after a critically praised 34 show run of SOUTH PACIFIC with them last summer, and joined the Wendy Taucher Opera and Dance Co. in Boston for a performance of IMPRESARIO NOW! as part of the Boston Arts Festival.
Branch’s performance path includes five seasons on the roster of the New York City Opera from 2005-2010, debuting there in 2005 as the 5th servant CAPRICCIO. As a house bass, he sang Zuniga CARMEN, Angelotti TOSCA, Major Domo VANESSA and Gravedigger ESTHER and covered roles in productions of IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, LA BOHÈME, TURANDOT, MADAMA BUTTERFLY, ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA and LYSISTRATA. Prior to those years at NYCO, Mr. Fields’ was an apprentice for two summers with the Santa Fe Opera, and one summer each with Utah Festival Opera and Opera Theater of St. Louis.
His talent for singing was discovered at Virginia Tech while doing undergraduate work in chemistry. Branch was accepted into the Master of Music program at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, where he was awarded the Cole and Kate Porter Memorial Scholarship, and studied voice with the great Metropolitan Opera bass, Giorgio Tozzi. Branch was a member of The Singing Hoosiers, through which he garnered the attention of Maestro Erich Kunzel during their concerts and recordings with the Cincinnati Pops. He can be heard on the Cincinnati Pop’s album Puttin’ On the Ritz (TELARC). He was later granted a coveted spot at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, a full scholarship institution, where he studied with Met baritone Louis Quilico, and participated in summer opera programs in Chiari, Lucca, and Rome, Italy. In New York City, he was placed in the studio of bass specialist Armen Boyajian, voice teacher of Samuel Ramey and Paul Plishka. He won 1st prize in the Bel Canto Vocal Scholarship Competition, 2nd in the NJAPA Vocal Competition, and was a prize winner in the Liederkranz Foundation Competition.