Artist of the Week: John Relyea

Canadian Bass Opens the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma

By Francisco Salazar
(Credit: Fabrizio Sansoni)

This week the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma is opening its 2023-24 season with an audacious production of “Mefistofele” directed by Simon Stone. Headlining the production is John Relyea in the title role.

Relyea is no stranger to the role of Mefistofele as he has performed both the Berlioz and Gounod works on several occasions in leading theaters. However, he first performed the title role of Boito’s opera at the Opeera de Lyon in 2018 to rave reviews with critics noting that Relyea gave “his deep voice all the darkness of the role, captivating the room from his interpretation of the aria ‘son lo spirito.’” This will mark the second time Relyea performs the famed verismo opera.  

The production also marks Relyea’s return to the Opera di Roma where he has appeared in such operas as “Bluebeard’s Castle,” “Billy Budd,” and “Eugene Onegin,” to name a few.

For those not in Rome for the occasion, the opera was recorded. Relyea will also continue in Rome for a production of “The Magic Flute” in January before heading to the English National Opera for more Mozart and “Bluebeard’s Castle.” He is also set to perform the Bartok work in Napoli.


You can hear Relyea’s diverse repertoire in the numerous recordings the bass has, including “Macbeth” and  “Rusalka” from the Metropolitan Opera. He is also on the Mahler Symphony No. 8 recording with Yannick Nézét-Séguin.

Here he is in clips from “La Damnation de Faust” and “Mefistofele.”