Derrick Ballard studied at the University of Denver and continued his training with Mark Oswald in New York. He began his career as an apprentice with Santa Fe Opera and in the renowned Merola Opera Program of San Francisco Opera. In addition, he has won several prizes at the Metropolitan Opera Auditions.
He had already performed more than 50 roles in the US before making his European debut in 2005 as Biterolf in Tannhäuser at Berlin’s Staatsoper Unter den Linden. Subsequently he joined the house ensembles of the Staatstheater Kassel (2005 to 2009), the Oldenburgisches Staatstheater (2009 to 2011) and the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz (2010 to 2012), where his repertoire included Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, Mustafà in L’italiana in Algeri, Dulcamara in L’elisir d‘amore, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Kaspar in Der Freischütz, Kezal in Die verkaufte Braut, Forester in Cunning Little Vixen, Méphistophélès in Faust and Wotan in Die Walküre.
Some highlights of his recent guest engagements have brought him to Oper Leipzig (bass soloist – Pax Questuosa), Oper Graz (König Heinrich – Lohengrin, Gessler – Guillaume Tell), Aalto-Theater Essen (Dulcamara – L’elisir d‘amore, Gremin – Eugen Onegin), Staatstheater Mannheim (Dulcamara – L’elisir d‘amore), Staatstheater Cottbus (bass soloist – Mahler’s 8th), Theater Bremen (Sarastro – Die Zauberflöte), as well as Staatsoper Hannover, Deutsche Oper am Rhein and Theater Dortmund (all as Mustafà – L’italiana in Algeri).
The versatile singer has also triumphed with baroque repertoire in roles such as Joas in Il Gedeone (Staatstheater Kassel), Achilla in Giulio Cesare (Florentine Opera Milwaukee), the title roles in Handel’s Hercules (Aalto-Musiktheater Essen, Staatheater Kassel, Theater Gera) and Saul (Staatstheater Oldenburg). In 2011 he performed in An Occasional Oratorio at the Händel-Festspiele Halle.
Since the 2014-15 season he is a member of the ensemble in Staatstheater Mainz, where he garnered critical acclaim as Scarpia in Tosca and Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. His 2015-16 season in Mainz includes Méphistophélès in Faust and the title role in Der fliegende Holländer, and with less than 15 hours notice, he sang Hans Sachs at the Theater Chemnitz.
In 2016-17 he will return to the role of Hans Sachs, this time at the Theater Detmold, and he will sing guest performances as Kezal (The Bartered Bride) at the Staatsoper Hannover. Mainz will see him in the title role of Mathis der Maler by Paul Hindemith, as Bottom in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and as Holländer in the revival of Der fliegende Holländer.