Companion Star Staff
Michael Douglas Jones
Founder and Director
Michael founded Companion Star in 2005 to create new opera and music theatre. He is an international singing artist with 25 years of experience in creating and collaborating on new works for the stage and maintains an active performing and teaching career. He has a Doctor of Musical Arts from SUNY-Stony Brook and is a graduate of the Shepherd School of Music of Rice University in Houston Texas and Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC.
Rooted and trained in the classical tradition, Michael began his career at New York City Opera debuting as the Bonze in Madama Butterfly. He sang Puccini and Verdi roles from New York to Alaska and Canada. Running parallel to that course was his work at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Alberta, Canada where he trained in alternative voice techniques, physical movement and improvisation and experimentation. The 25 years of experimental work at the Banff Centre became the foundation for and is at the very heart of Companion Star.
While at the Banff Centre, Michael sang the role of Director in Kafka's Chimp by Welsh composer, John Metcalf in its premiere in 1994. This production was followed by a Swedish production sung in Swedish produced by Piteå Kammaroper in 1997. Here for the first time he encountered the poetry of Tomas Tranströmer, which planted the seed for what would grow to become Companion Star’s Swedish/American Opera Project: dream seminar/drömseminarium.
Further collaboration with Metcalf yielded Michael's role as man’s best friend, the Dog, in the 2005 premiere of A Chair in Love with performances in Montréal, Wales, Ireland and England. The role was developed over a three-year period in collaboration with the composer, librettist and stage director, and through improvisations in creative workshops. In 2007 Michael gave another 11 performances of A Chair in Love throughout the UK including the Wales Millennium Centre and The Buxton Festival. Today Michael and Companion Star have co-produced a 4th project with John Metcalf: the critically acclaimed Under Milk Wood. Companion Star builds on and develops the ideas of creating work through collaboration of diverse artists and improvisation.
Michael was on the faculty of New York University in the Music and Music Professions Department where he taught voice and was Music Director/Vocal Coach for a staged reading of a new opera, Odin, by Composer Donald Knaack, in spring 2006 at the Fred Lowe Theatre. The New York Times called this reading “an amazing example of what is possible in the world of new opera.”
Michael has been a coach in the Banff Centre’s “Voice through body and movement” workshop with international artist, Richard Armstrong and served as a voice instructor and guest lecturer at the Banff Centre for their young artist training program entitled “Opera as Theatre”.
Michael is highly regarded for his appearances in works of the 20th and 21st centuries. In 2001, he won the Canadian Jessie Richardson award for “outstanding performance by an actor in a leading role” for his creation of the Marquis in 120 Songs for the Marquis de Sade (Hannan) in the world premiere co-produced by Modern Baroque Opera and Vancouver New Music.
His other world premieres include Westergaard’s The Tempest as Caliban, for Opera Festival of New Jersey, and Star Catalogues (Underhill) as Tycho Brahe for Vancouver New Music. Other performances include Der Kaiser von Atlantis (Ullman) for the Goethe Institute; other appearances at the Banff Centre include Arthur in Peter Maxwell Davies The Lighthouse, Bass II in Stravinsky’s Renard, and Ben in Happy End. In 2010, he recorded Trillium E, an opera by Jazz legend Anthony Braxton and Charles Wuroinen’s duet for Bass and Tuba, Never Again the Same, with Jay Rozen on Tuba.