Native (Choctaw) baritone Mark Billy is a young Verdi baritone with a multi-faceted career in opera, recital, and concert work. The baritone just gave a recital at the Schubert Club with pianist Nathan Cicero entitled “The Sacred and the Profane” it included works by Poulenc, Moses Hogan, and Verdi. This fall Mark will sing the role of King’s Man in Minnesota Opera’s world premiere production of Edward Tulane, by Paola Prestini. In 2020 Mark was awarded a prestigious grant from the Richard Wagner Society of the Upper Midwest. This grant allowed Mark to curate a virtual recital that featured works by Verdi and Verismo composers juxtaposed with narratives of violence against Native Women to bring these largely untold stories to light. That same year Mr. Billy was to make his role and house debut at Mill City Summer Opera, singing Marullo in Katherine Carter’s production of Rigoletto as well as to cover the title role. Also in the summer if 2020 Mark sang the role of Angelotti in Chia Patino’s production of Tosca at the Northern Lights music festival. In the fall of 2019 Mark joined the St. John’s Boys Choir to sing the role of Mega the Baker in Stephen Paulus’ opera The Star Gatherer. Mr. Billy was also the featured soloist in Mozart’s Requiem with the St. Catherine Choral Society and was a featured soloist at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Gerald Finzi’s In Terra Pax.
In 2019 Mr. Billy was a Young Artist with Hawaii Opera Theatre where he sang the role of Figaro in their touring production of The Barber of Seville on Oahu, the Big Island, and Kauai. Following the tour, the baritone made his debut in the role of Marchese in La Traviata on HOT’s main stage, where he also covered Quinn Kelsey in the role of Germont. Upon returning to the mainland the baritone made his role debut as Der Vater in Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel led by AVA vocal coach Luke Housner. Also that summer featured as Marchese in La Traviata on the mainstage at the Northern Lights Music Festival in the Iron Range of Minnesota.
In 2018 Mark was a Young Artist with Fargo Moorhead Opera singing Melisso in Handel’s Alcina, and appeared as a featured soloist with Minnesota Chorale (Messiah), the East Metro Symphony (Beethoven 9), and Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church (Duruflé Requiem). Mark was also First Place Winner in the 2018 Schubert Club Competition.
Hailing from Finley, Oklahoma, Mark’s undergraduate studies in voice at the University of Oklahoma were under the mentorship of baritone Richard Anderson. The baritone also studied with the legendary mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne. Mark’s graduate studies at Indiana University’s Jacob School of Music and were with soprano Carol Vaness. Mark is also an accomplished clarinetist, having studied with David Etheridge at the University of Oklahoma. Currently Mark serves as Cantor at St. Albert the Great Church and St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church and is the bass/baritone of the Bethel Quartet in Hudson, WI under the direction of Skip James. Mark is a soloist/chorister at Minnesota Chorale, and is a member of Minnesota Opera Chorus.