Often appears with
Baritone Lester Lynch made an impact in major European opera houses, and later, in his native U.S. He has a wide repertory but has specialized in the operas of Verdi and Puccini.
Lynch was born in Elyria, Ohio, near Cleveland, in the late 1960s, and grew up on the city's east side. He sang in a church choir, and a teacher picked him out of a rehearsal when he was in fourth grade and told him he had a great voice. At first, he hoped to become a pianist or a flutist, but further work with teachers as the student president of the Elyria High School Choir led him in the direction of singing. Lynch attended Baldwin Wallace University for two years and went on for further study at the New England Conservatory of Music and the Juilliard School. After that, though, he had difficulties in taking his career to the next level. "I got to a certain point in my career, and people started pointing out to me that I was Black," he told Cleveland's Ideastream Radio on February 28, 2020. "They kept pointing it out over and over again, and so I hit kind of a ceiling." Deciding to try his luck in Europe, Lynch had more success, landing major baritone roles such as Scarpia in Puccini's Tosca, Count di Luna in Verdi's Il trovatore, and the title role in Verdi's Rigoletto. Lynch appeared at La Scala in Milan and Covent Garden in London, and in concert with the Berlin Philharmonic, among other organizations. These triumphs attracted the attention of North American operatic bookers, and Lynch has appeared at the San Francisco Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and many symphony orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Houston Symphony. Lynch has returned to Europe for numerous performances, including a production of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden in Germany, under the direction of Simon Rattle. He has continued to sing Verdi and Puccini roles frequently but has a large repertory extending from Schoenberg's Gurre-Lieder to Crown in Gershwin's Porgy and Bess to African American spirituals.
Lynch records for the PentaTone label. In 2017, he issued the solo album On My Journey Now: Spirituals and Hymns. He has also appeared on various operatic recordings, including, in 2020, a production of Puccini's Il tabarro recorded at the Kulturpalast in Dresden, Germany, the previous year.