Mayes stunned London audiences as Joseph de Rocher in the UK premiere of Jake Heggie’s opera Dead Man Walking alongside Joyce DiDonato at London’s Barbican Hall. His “searing performance” was hailed by critics as “sensational”, “a revelation”, and “of such stunning strength and complete identification”. Mayes made his European debut at the Teatro Real, Madrid, in staged performances of Dead Man Walking and has performed the role with multiple opera houses, including Washington National Opera. This season, he reprised de Rocher with The Atlanta Opera, in a critically acclaimed production co-starring Jamie Barton.
He is renowned for his outstanding performances in contemporary operas, including the Grammy-nominated world premiere of Great Scott with Dallas Opera & San Diego Opera; Margaret Garner opposite Denyce Graves with the Opera Company of Philadelphia and Opera Carolina; Out of Darkness; Three Decembers; Glory Denied; The Wreckers, Mark Adamo’s Lysistrata, Baden-Baden 1927 and Everest. 2018-2019 performances include a debut with Staatsoper Stuttgart as the title character in Nixon in China, Conte di Luna in Il Trovatore for Seattle Opera, Starbuck in Moby Dick in Pittsburgh, Glory Denied, and the title role of Sweeney Todd for Atlanta Opera as well as his first Wozzeck.
Mayes also excels in dramatic baritone roles such as Scarpia in Tosca, Jack Rance in La Fanciulla del West, and the title roles of Don Giovanni and Rigoletto. Classical Scene praised his Boston Lyric Opera debut in Rigoletto, saying, “His baritone, powerful yet fully controlled, shifted seamlessly in color between expressions of terror, pleading, and angry vengeance.”