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Personal History and Education
John Duykers was born in the mining community of Butte, Montana. His father’s family immigrated from Holland; his mother’s family from the Isle of Man. His father and siblings were all singers and his maternal grandmother was a violinist. John was exposed to classical music and opera from the beginning of his life.
His early music training began at age 8 with private piano lessons; at age 13 he began studying the flute, and performed in his school band. In high school he joined the chorus program. He received many awards for his music skills in his early studies. He attended Oberlin College where he studied flute, piano, choral conducting and chemistry. In his second year at Oberlin, he met Leon Lishner who became John’s first voice instructor. John transferred to the University of Washington in 1964 to continue his vocal studies with Lishner. In 1965 and 1966, John was an Apprentice at Santa Fe Opera – where he won the Garebedian award for “most promising young singer” in 1966. In 1967, he won 1st place in the San Francisco Opera Northwest Region Auditions and was a member of the Merola Program in that summer. In the fall of 1967, he moved to New York City where he was a member of the Metropolitan Opera Studio. In the fall of 1968, he became a member of the Centre Lyrique International de Geneve and in 1969 he signed a two year contract with the Frankfurt Opera.
His performance career has continued to the present day (1965-2017). John currently lives with his wife and collaborator Missy Weaver in Sebastopol California, where he is manager of DMS Ranch Meyer Lemons and Bee Happy Farm.
John Duykers, internationally acclaimed tenor, made his professional operatic debut with Seattle Opera. Since then, he has appeared with many of the leading opera companies of the world including The Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Royal Opera Convent Garden, Netherlands Opera, the Grand Theatre of Geneva (Cellini/Benvenuto Cellini), Frankfurt Opera, Opera de Marseille (Mime/Siegfried), the Canadian Opera Company, Santa Fe Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Long Beach Opera, San Diego Opera and the Opera Company of Philadephia (Shuisky/Boris Godunov; Herod/Salome).
Mr. Duykers has had a close association with a number of contemporary composers, notably John Adams and Philip Glass. He sang the premiere of Glass’ White Raven, In the Penal Colony, and the title role of Galileo Galilei. He has likewise had a long association with Paul Dresher whose solo opera The Tyrant premiered in 2005 with the Seattle Chamber Players, followed by performances in Philadelphia, with the Cleveland Opera, Present Music in Milwaukee, the Chicago Chamber Musicians and the EdgeFest in Berkeley. In 2006, he sang with the premiere of Libby Larsen’s Every Man Jack for Sonoma City Opera; in 2007, the premieres of Lou Harrison’s Young Caesar at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center and Ann LeBaron’s Crescent City with the LOOS Ensemble in The Hague, Netherlands; in 2008, the premiere of Erling Wold’s Mordake as part of the San Francisco International Festival and in 2009, the premier of Allan Shearer’s The Dawn Makers in San Francisco.
The year 2010 brought the performances of Don Davis’ Rio de Sangre with Florentine Opera in Milwaukee and Xenia, a song cycle by Thomas Sleeper with the Frost Orchestra in Miami as well as performances of Nixon in China (Mao Tse Tung) with Long Beach Opera and Wozzeck (Captain) with Ensemble Parallele and the Astoria Music Festival. In 2011, John starred in First Look Sonoma’s production of Caliban Dreams. In 2012 he created the role of Winston Churchill in Daughter of the Red Tsar by Lisa Scola-Prosek. In 2016 he premiered the role of Thomas Edison in Larry London’s chamber work Dynamo at Telluride Chamber Music Festival.
John has sung with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and on tour, the American Composers Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Kansas City Symphony, Tri-Cities Symphony, Sacramento Symphony, Santa Rosa Symphony and the San Jose Symphony. In 2005, he sang the premiere of Kurt Rohde’s Bitter Harvest with Kent Nagano and the Berkeley Symphony. He made his Disney Hall debut in spring 2006 with the Los Angeles Master Chorale in Orff’s Carmina Burana. His appearances at major festivals have included Aspen, the American Music Theater Festival, the Gaudeamus Music Week, Kaitheater Festival, the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s “Next Wave” Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, the London International Festival of Theatre, Telluride Music Festival, Internationale Teaterfestival in Copenhagen, Edinburgh Festival, the Festival Internacional de Teatro of Grenada and Juneau Jazz and Classics.
John Duykers has received critical acclaim in numerous productions of the Paul Dresher Ensemble, and George Coates Performance Works, which have been seen on the world’s most important contemporary music and theater stages. He can be heard on many recordings of opera and contemporary music including the Grammy Award-winning CD of Nixon in China as well as the DVD of the Emmy Award-winning PBS Great Performances production. Duykers is currently collaborating with his wife Missy Weaver on two new works produced by First Look Sonoma– Both Eyes Open (Max Duykers and Philip Gotanda) and Heart of the Great Divide, about the history of Butte Montana (composer Phil Aaberg).
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