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Tenor Kelly W. Burns (he/him) is an active performer of opera, concert works, musical theater, and recital throughout North America in vocal repertoire spanning from Claudio Monteverdi to living composers. Among his stage credits are leading and supporting roles in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro, Die Zauberflöte, and Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Donizetti’s Elisir d’amore, Verdi’s Rigoletto, Puccini's Turandot, Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer, Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmelites, Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd and A Little Night Music, and Rodger’s & Hammerstein’s Carousel. Kelly’s concert repertoire includes Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s B Minor Mass and Magnificat, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Haydn’s Creation, Mozart’s Requiem and Coronation Mass, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. He has performed with organizations such as the Fargo-Moorhead Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Opera Roanoke, Memphis Symphony Chamber Orchestra, Little Orchestra Society of New York, the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, Charleston Chamber Opera, Opera Project Columbus, LancasterChoral (OH), and the Oxford Shakespear Festival (MS).


Kelly is also passionate about art song and vocal chamber music. In addition to the traditional art songs by European and North American composers, Kelly also performs new works for voice and piano as well as chamber music for tenor, clarinet, and piano as a member of Trio Lirica. He is co-founder of the Unity Series at NDSU which promotes the performance of and education about music composed by traditionally under-represented artists. He also tours annually throughout the United States for the Piatigorsky Foundation with collaborative pianist Nicholas Shaneyfelt.


As music director and conductor, Kelly’s repertoire includes the operas and musicals Le nozze di Figaro, Dido and Aeneas, Die Zauberflöte, The Telephone (Menotti), Lucy (Cipullo), The Pirates of Penzance, Beauty and the Beast, Hairspray, Man of La Mancha, Company, A Year With Frog and Toad, The Sound of Music, The SpongeBob Musical, and Jersey Boys. He has prepared choruses and/or scenes from The Rake’s Progress, Die Zauberflöte (German & English), Sweeney Todd, Don Giovanni, The Ballad of Baby Doe, Die Fledermaus, La Traviata, Louise, and Maria Stuarda.


Kelly joined the voice faculty of North Dakota State University’s Challey School of Music in 2019. He teaches voice lessons and diction and is Director of NDSU Opera. Kelly holds degrees in music from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the University of Mississippi.

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