Dr. Kelly Burns

Assistant Professor
NDSU Opera

Office: 223 Music Education Building
Phone: (701) 231-7094


  • D.M.A., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • M.M., The University of Mississippi
  • B.M., The University of Mississippi

Lyric tenor Kelly W. Burns is an active performer of opera, musical theater, recital, and concert works 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, Die Zauberflöte, and Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Donizetti’s Elisir d’amore, Verdi’s Rigoletto, Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd and A Little Night Music, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel, and the tenor solos in Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s B Minor Mass and Magnificat, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Haydn’s Creation, Mozart’s Requiem, Mass in C Minor, and Coronation Mass, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. He has sung with opera companies and orchestras such as the Chautauqua Opera, Opera Roanoke, Memphis Symphony Chamber Orchestra, Little Orchestra Society of New York, the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, Charleston Chamber Opera, Opera Project Columbus, and the Oxford Shakespeare Festival.

Art song recitals and chamber music balance Kelly’s stage and concert performance. Songs by North American and European composers for the basis of Kelly’s recital repertoire. Kelly’s interest in new music has led to World and American Premiers of songs and chamber works by living composers.

Kelly is also an active music director and conductor for musical theater and opera. Previous shows he has music directed include Hairspray, Man of La Mancha, Beauty and the Beast, The Pirates of Penzance, A Year with Frog and Toad, and The Sound of Music. He has prepared choruses and/or scenes from The Magic Flute, Sweeney Todd, Don Giovanni, The Ballad of Baby Doe, Die Fledermaus, La Traviata, Louise, and Maria Stuarda.

Kelly joined the voice faculty at North Dakota State University Challey School of Music in 2019. He previously taught voice, pedagogy, and diction at the Ohio University School of Music. His voice students have enjoyed success at regional voice competitions and NATS auditions, often winning their categories or placing in finals. They sing professionally in North America and Europe, participate in young artist programs domestically and abroad, and are admitted to prestigious music programs in the United States and Canada.