Biography

Daniel-Shirley-treesOf his Carnegie Hall debut, the New York Concert Review noted, “Daniel Shirley’s voice soared over the large forces with strength and clarity.” The tenor continues to earn critical praise for insightful, dramatically affecting performances in concert, musical theater, and opera.
During 2017, Daniel will debut the role of John Little in the world premiere of We Shall Not Be Moved, a new hybrid opera by Daniel Bernard Roumain, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and Bill T. Jones.  Part of Opera Philadelphia‘s groundbreaking O17 Festival, the work will be presented at Philadelphia’s Wilma Theater, New York City’s famed Apollo Theater, and London’s Hackney Empire.  2018 will bring concert engagements with the Raleigh Bach Soloists in the Christmas Oratorio and Easter Oratorio, and a solo recital on settings of Thomas Hardy poetry at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Highlights of the 2016-17 season included his debut with Kentucky Opera in The Mikado and a return to Choral Society of Durham for the Britten Saint Nicolas cantata, as well as a season-long Bach series at Christ Church on Capitol Square in Raleigh, NC with the Raleigh Bach Soloists and North Carolina Baroque Chamber Players.
During the 2015-16 season, company debuts included Messiah with the Omaha Symphony, the Ballad Singer in Of Mice and Men with Austin Lyric Opera, and the Schoenberg/Riehn orchestration of Das Lied von der Erde with Firebird Arts Alliance of Charlotte.  He enjoyed a return to the Seattle Symphony for the Ninth Symphony after his highly successful 2014 Carmina Burana.
Conductors with whom Daniel has worked include Jane Glover, Martin Pearlman, Christopher Seaman, Paul Goodwin, and John DeMain.  His diverse and expanding repertoire includes many masterpieces of the symphonic and sacred canons, with a particular suitability to the music of the Baroque era.  The recently-released recording of Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria by Boston Baroque on Linn Records (Pearlman, cond.), for which Daniel sang the role of Eurimaco, was nominated for two 2016 Grammy awards.  In the Chicago area, Daniel has been a familiar presence with Music of the Baroque under Jane Glover, having performed tenor solos in Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Handel’s Israel in Egypt, for which his “articulate delivery was to the Handelian manner born” (Chicago Tribune).
With Madison Opera, he debuted as Acis in Acis and Galatea and returned twice during 2014-15: first as Candide in a gala concert of scenes, and finally to portray Anthony in Sweeney Todd.  For New York City Opera he covered Prologue/Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw.  His 2013 Carnegie Hall debut was with Distinguished Concerts International – New York, in the Jonathan Willcocks oratorio A Great and Glorious Victory.
The tenor trained in some of America’s most notable young artist programs.  A resident artist with Florida Grand Opera from 2010 to 2012, he performed Prunier in La Rondine and Tybalt in Roméo et Juliette, and covered Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni.  Critics commended his Prunier for a vocal delivery “so pure, that even in the softer passages he makes a very memorable impression,” and his Tybalt for a “hot-headed, on target performance” with “pure and solid tone.”  As a 2009 and 2011 Apprentice Artist with the Santa Fe Opera, Daniel covered Gualtiero in Griselda and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni.  In 2008, he joined the Bonfils-Stanton Artist Training Program of Central City Opera to cover Sam Polk in Susannah.  His professional operatic debut was as Don Curzio in The Marriage of Figaro with Chautauqua Opera, where he was a Studio Artist.
Daniel has been recognized in recent years by the American Traditions Competition, the William Matheus Sullivan Foundation, the Anna Sosenko Trust, the George London Foundation, and the National Society of Arts & Letters.  A native of Jackson, Mississippi, he is a graduate of the Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music and the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
He and his wife, soprano Caitlin Shirley, reside in Greenville, North Carolina, where Daniel is a member of the Vocal Studies faculty of the East Carolina University School of Music.