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Dramatic Voice, Lyrical Life:
A Talk with Bass-Baritone Greer Grimsley

by Lisa Houston



Grimsley and Lise Lindstrom as
the title role and Senta
in San Francisco Opera’s production
of The Flying Dutchman, 2013
In a recent masterclass at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Greer Grimsley emphasized the importance of simplicity to the young singers. “Don’t make things harder than they need to be” emerged as a sort of credo over the course of the evening as he instructed the students on relaxed breathing, elongated enunciation, and maximizing resonance. “It’s a helpful idea in our modern world, when we tend to complicate things,” he says. It’s helpful advice for any singer to be sure. But for someone who is in demand the world over as Wotan, Amfortas, Macbeth, and Jokanaan—and as someone who spends months on the road performing in San Francisco, Berlin, and New York—it is essential.

Since portraying Escamillo in a world tour of Peter Brook’s Carmen in the 1980s, Greer Grimsley has become known for creating strong portrayals of diverse characters. He has been called “the embodiment of evil” as Claggart in Billy Budd. His Scarpia has been touted as “menacing,” “superbly honed,” “f...
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Wise, Patricia





The Metropolitan Opera



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