Move over Joyce DiDonato, Prairie Village has another rising opera star on the national stage.
Ben Bliss, a 2004 graduate of Shawnee Mission East, has been winning accolades around the world since embracing a singing career in 2011.
On Oct. 22, the young tenor will perform a free concert at the Folly Theater at 7 p.m. courtesy of the Harriman-Jewell Series.
And there is no rivalry between him and DiDonato, an opera superstar who also hails from Prairie Village. The two were first introduced at the New York Metropolitan Opera, and spent an evening together just last summer in Santa Fe.
Bliss credits his musical family, his mother Judy Bliss sings in the chorus of the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and his high school chorus director, Tracy Resseguie, with helping his career.
“Prairie Village is an awesome place to grow up,” he said. “It’s a friendly, open-minded place with good values and the schools are phenomenal.”
Resseguie was the chorus director at SM East when Bliss was a student. He now is at Staley High School in North Kansas City. Bliss was a member of the chorus throughout his time at East.
“Tracy Resseguie had a great influence on me,” he said. “He was always honest and helpful.”
And this won’t be the first time Bliss has performed at the historic Folly Theater in downtown Kansas City.
“I sang a Duke Ellington tune with the Shawnee Mission East jazz band there a couple of weeks before I graduated in 2004,” he said.
“It will be really neat to be on that stage and wrack my brain to remember what it was like when I was 18.”
After graduating from East, Bliss attended Chapman University in Orange County, Calif. with a plan of making it in the television and film industry. But after working awhile in television production, he decided to return to singing.
It was the right move. Bliss was invited to join the Los Angeles Opera’s LA Young Artist Program and in 2013, he was accepted into the New York Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.
That led to Bliss singing the role of Vogelsang in the Met’s 2014 HD broadcast of Die Meistersinger. For his performance at the Folly, Bliss will sing works by Strauss, Boulanger, Tosti, Britten and others.
He also plans to be at Village Presbyterian Church at 1 p.m. Oct. 23 to teach a master class to four students in the sanctuary.
The Folly performance is free to the public. Go here for more information.
“It will be neat to come home and show what I’ve been up to,” Bliss said.