American tenor Michael Spyres has amassed an impressive record of major operatic and concert performances in the 2010s, and he has issued several distinctive recital recordings.
Spyres is a native of the small town of Mansfield, Missouri, in the Ozark Mountains in the southern part of the state. Both his parents were music teachers. His entire family was musical, and he was named after an uncle who had hoped to become an opera singer, but died of throat cancer before he could do so. Spyres grew up singing regularly at weddings and funerals, and he gained early experience on the operatic stage, appearing for the first time at the nearby Springfield Regional Opera when he was 18. "I wouldn't be in this position without having had the opportunities that I had in Springfield," Spyres told 417 Magazine. "By the time I was 22 years old, I had already done six roles in a real opera company with an orchestra. Most of my colleagues and friends when I was in these other programs were 22, but they had never even gotten to sing with orchestras." When Spyres was 24, he moved to Austria and studied at the Vienna Conservatory (now the Private University of Music and Art of the City of Vienna).
Spyres made his debut at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples in 2006, playing Jaquino in Beethoven's Fidelio. He then appeared as Alberto in Rossini's La gazzetta at the Rossini in Wildbad festival in Germany, and went to Japan as part of a touring production of La traviata. Invited back to Bad Wildbad, he scored a breakthrough in the title role of Rossini's Otello in 2008. Since then, Spyres has appeared in major opera houses, including La Scala and Covent Garden, under the likes of Riccardo Muti, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Sir Mark Elder, Valery Gergiev, Emmanuelle Haïm. As of the late 2010s he was slated to make his debut at New York's Metropolitan Opera and the Vienna State Opera. In addition to appearing on recordings of operas by Donizetti, Rossini, Berlioz, and Giovanni Simone Mayr, Spyres has released the recital albums A Fool for Love (2011) and Espoir (2017). The latter explored the repertoire of 19th century tenor Gilbert Duprez, who sang both French and Italian opera. In 2016 Spyres returned to Springfield as artistic director of the Springfield Regional Opera.