Joshua Hughes, lauded for his "full-voiced, highly expressive, bass-baritone pipes" (Theatre Eddy's), "powerful lyricism" (Texas Classical Review), and "brilliant vocal range” (DC Metro Theater Arts), has performed in opera, operetta, theatre, cabarets, and concerts ranging from Gilbert and Sullivan to Mozart to Shakespeare. The "rising young singer" (Baltimore Sun) and "lush, rich baritone” (TheatreBloom), approaches a wide variety of roles with a "power and dramatic effect" (Dallas Morning News) that immediately connect the audience to the story at hand. Hughes's gift for honest communication and his extensive training in music, acting, language, and dance aid him in providing engaging and entertaining performances.
Hughes's current season includes a house debut in the chorus of Verdi's Il Trovatore with San Francisco Opera and a return to Opera San José to sing Fiorello (and Basilio cover) in a brand new production of Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia.
Hughes opened his 2022/2023 season with Lamplighters Music Theatre as the Lord Chancellor in Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe with performances in Mountain View, San Francisco, Livermore, and via livestream. He also made his company debut with West Bay Opera as Doctor Grenvil in Verdi's La Traviata, in Don Giovanni singing both Masetto and Il Commendatore, and as Daland in Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer. Performances with Opera San José included the role of the Minister in Alma Deutscher's Cinderella and Sciarrone (and Angelotti cover) in Puccini's Tosca. Last season also saw continued performances with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus.
A rare performer who excels in both opera and musical theatre, Hughes portrayed Baby John in Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story at Opera San José, marking the storied company’s first ever performance of a musical. He also played Junior Babcock in Jerry Herman's Mame with Lyric Stage and a dozen different characters in the zany, murderous romp A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder with Lamplighters Music Theatre. Following his star turn in Iolanthe with Lamplighters, Hughes firmly established himself as an accomplished Gilbert and Sullivan “patter” baritone. With comic sensibilities that have been compared to Groucho Marx and Eric Idle (DC Metro Theater Arts), he has performed in full productions and semi-staged G&S concerts with Opera in Concert and Young Victorian Theatre Company. His portrayals of many of the great patter roles, including Ko-Ko in The Mikado, Sir Joseph Porter in HMS Pinafore, and the Lord Chancellor in Iolanthe with YVTC garnered critical acclaim throughout the Baltimore/DC area. His rendition of the “Nightmare Song” was even featured on the CBS local syndicate WJZ TV. Hughes’s first foray into operetta in Ruddigore with Victorian Lyric Opera Company led DC Metro Theater Arts to state “the enjoyment he infused into the role made his portrayal of Robin a constant joy to watch.”
Hughes has also made a name for himself in the Baroque and early music scene. He has frequently appeared throughout the Bay Area with Soli Deo Gloria performing as the bass soloist in Magnificats by CPE Bach, Schubert, and Charpentier, JS Bach’s Saint John Passion, and a number of cantatas. He has also joined the San Francisco Symphony Chorus for their annual performances of Handel’s Messiah. His extensive work within the thriving Baroque music scene in North Texas includes a Dallas operatic role debut as Licomede, King of Skyros in a period staging of Francisco Courcelle's Achille in Sciro with Orchestra of New Spain and appearances in the inaugural season of American Baroque Opera Company in Handel's Alcina (Melisso) and Pergolesi's La Serva Padrona (Uberto). He has also been a frequent soloist with Dallas Bach Society in a number of concerts and productions, including JS Bach's Saint Matthew Passion, Purcell's The Fairy Queen, and Charpentier’s Les Arts Florissants. While studying at Peabody Conservatory, he sang the roles of Apollon and Titye in Charpentier’s La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers and Le Marriage Forcé
A standout in both grand opera and intimate chamber productions, Hughes actively seeks out unique and interesting performances that appeal to a wide audience. One such production was a sold-out aerial performance of La Rêve de Carmen with San Francisco Opera on Tap and Air Opera Collective where he made his role debut as Escamillo. His work with Dallas Opera in Concert includes productions of Giménez and Nieto's zarzuela El Barbero de Sevilla (Benito Sánchez), Boris Blacher’s Die Flut (Der Fischer), and Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel (Bobby). He made his professional operatic debut in 2016 with Lyric Opera Baltimore as Ambrogio in a "lively" (Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun) production of Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia and previously appeared on Baltimore's historic Lyric Opera House stage as Harry Easter in Kurt Weill's Street Scene (under the baton of Steven White) and as Pasha Selim in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Peabody Opera. As a chorus member of the San Francisco Symphony, Hughes recently had the honor to work with legends Peter Sellars and Esa-Pekka Salonen in a powerful staging of Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex and Symphony of Psalms.
In addition to his professional and academic credits, Hughes has performed in both concerts and fully staged productions at a number of summer music festivals. In 2011, he attended the Bay View Music Festival in Petoskey, Michigan and sang the role of Marco in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi in addition to alternating the role of Marco and the Magistrate in Buoso’s Ghost, Michael Ching’s English-language sequel to the Puccini classic. In 2012, he worked at Opera in the Ozarks in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, appearing in every single performance of a summer-long rotating repertory of Die Zauberflöte, La Bohème, and A Little Night Music. In 2014, he made his DC metro area debut with Bethesda Summer Music Festival portraying Guglielmo in Mozart’s Così fan tutte.
A gifted educator with a passion for passing music onto younger generations, Hughes has been involved with a great deal of operatic and theatre outreach. Most recently he sang Papageno in West Bay Opera's Opera in the Schools production of The Magic Flute, bringing Mozart's to hundreds of children throughout the Bay Area. The 2019/2020 season marked his first with Opera San José, performing throughout the year in the educational outreach production of Barab’s Little Red Riding Hood (Wolf/Woodsman). In the spring of 2017, he was seen by over twenty North Texas schools as the Man in the Yellow Hat in Plano Children's Theatre's touring production of Curious George and the Golden Meatball and also performed the role of The Grinch for the City of Grapevine's Carol of Light's 2017 Christmas extravaganza. In the 2014-2015 academic year, he sang the role of the Father in Peabody’s Opera Outreach production of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, which was performed at venues ranging from concert halls to elementary gymnasiums throughout the state of Maryland. While at Opera in the Ozarks, he sang a number of roles in an English translation of Ravel’s L’enfant et les Sortilèges in schools, libraries, and theaters throughout northwest Arkansas. In 2018 and 2019, Hughes toured with Shakespeare Dallas in their school outreach production What Visions Have I Seen exploring Shakespeare's contributions to the English language through scenes from A Midsummer Night's Dream.
In 2016, Hughes graduated with a Master of Music in Voice Performance and Pedagogy from the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University where he studied with acclaimed baritone William Sharp. In 2013, he received his Bachelor of Music Education from Oklahoma City University where he studied with tenor Jeffrey Picón.