Rising singing star Eric Owens performs in St. Paul

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Bass Baritone Eric Owens
Bass Baritone Eric Owens sings a recital in St. Paul Wednesday night as part of the Schubert Club International Series, two days before he makes his New York debut.
Eric Owens

Unless you're an opera buff, the name Eric Owens may not be entirely familiar to you just yet. But it's only a matter of time before this up-and-coming young singer becomes a household name.

Owens is a large man with a large voice and a hearty laugh. But it's not just the cliche dark tones of his bass-baritone that make him special.

His voice possesses a subtly and flexibility that caught the ear of composer John Adams, who created the role of General Leslie Groves in "Dr. Atomic" for Eric to sing in his debut last fall at the Met.

By the same turn, Eric Owens is a stage director's dream. He can frolic about stage in some unlikely costumes, as in Julie Taymor's "Grendel," an opera where he spends the entire evening on stage looking like a monster getting a mud facial.

Probably no frolicking tonight, though, when Eric sings a recital at the Ordway Center in St. Paul, a concert he was picked to perform for the Schubert Club International Series when tenor Ben Heppner needed to cancel.

While Eric Owens has made a niche for himself tackling roles in new operas, he spends an equal amount of time singing the classics.

In this recital, he'll survey nearly every nook and cranny where his voice rings, from tragic Mozart to Brahms love songs.

He'll also raise a toast to music with songs by Roger Quilter, John Ireland and Edward Elgar, as well as rarely heard chamber music by Camille Saint-Saens, with St. Paul Chamber Orchestra concertmaster Steven Copes joining in.

Eric Owens came by the MPR studios after a late morning rehearsal to speak with classical host Alison Young, and share a sample from his recording of John Adams' "A Flowering Tree."