Robert Orth

OrthIMG_9053_rtBaritone
Bio
Photos
Audio
Suggested Operatic Repertoire
Review Excerpts
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Bio
Robert Orth is a leading baritone with major opera companies including those in New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto, Vancouver,  Washington, D.C., Houston, Seattle, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Miami, Portland, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Denver. He was named “Artist of the Year” by both New York City Opera and Seattle Opera. New York City Opera also gave him the “Christopher Keene Award” for new and unusual repertoire. He has appeared as soloist with the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Seattle, Denver, Dallas, Phoenix, Indianapolis, and Washington, D.C., in repertoire ranging from Brahms’ REQUIEM to Broadway pops to his most repeated symphonic piece, CARMINA BURANA.

Future engagements include the world premiere of Kirke Mechem’s THE RIVALS in Milwaukee; A WATERBIRD TALK in Indianapolis; MOBY DICK in San Diego and San Francisco; THE LIGHTHOUSE in Dallas; CANDIDE in Portland; and a concert of NIXON IN CHINA with the BBC in London with John Adams conducting.

Mr. Orth has often appeared as Figaro in IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, Eisenstein in DIE FLEDERMAUS, Malatesta in DON PASQUALE, Guglielmo in COSI FAN TUTTE, Dandini in LA CENERENTOLA, Germont in LA TRAVIATA, and Sharpless in MADAMA BUTTERFLY. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Kromow in THE MERRY WIDOW and his European debut as Pangloss/Voltaire in CANDIDE in Rome.

Hailed by Opera News as a “fixture of contemporary opera,” Mr. Orth’s involvement in new works has brought him great pleasure and acclaim. He was John Buchanan, Jr., in Lee Hoiby’s SUMMER AND SMOKE, which was broadcast nationally on Public Television. At the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, he was Count Almaviva in the premiere of ROSINA. In Milwaukee he was Fantomas in Stanley Silverman’s HOTEL FOR CRIMINALS. He played the Lodger in Dominic Argento’s THE ASPERN PAPERS in its east coast premiere at the Kennedy Center; and he was the Lecturer in Argento’s one-man opera, A WATERBIRD TALK, in Chicago. Also in Chicago, he sang the the Father in Hugo Weissgall’s SIX CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF AN AUTHOR in its second professional production. He created the title role in HARVEY MILK by Stewart Wallace and Michael Korie for Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera and San Francisco Opera. In 1997 he portrayed Frank Lloyd Wright in SHINING BROW by Daron Aric Hagen. In 2000 he played Owen Hart with San Francisco Opera in the world premiere of DEAD MAN WALKING by Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally. In 2001 he premiered Michael John LaChiusa’s LOVERS AND FRIENDS (CHAUTAUQUA VARIATIONS) in Chicago. In 2002 he premiered Garrison Keillor’s MR. AND MRS. OLSON in St. Paul. In 2004 he was Mr. Parkis in the premiere of Jake Heggie’s THE END OF THE AFFAIR, and Richard Nixon in John Adams’ NIXON IN CHINA with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, a role he has repeated in many other cities. In 2007 he was Uncle John in the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie’s THE GRAPES OF WRATH with Minnesota Opera, and Capt. Compson in MIDNIGHT ANGEL by David Carlson. In 2009 he was Mr. Godby in the world premiere of Andre Previn’s BRIEF ENCOUNTER in Houston, and Lyndon Johnson in the world premiere of Steven Stucky’s AUGUST 4, 1964 in Dallas. In 2010 he created the role of Mr. Stubb in the world premiere of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s MOBY DICK in Dallas. And in 2011 he was Mayor Fazzobaldi in the world premiere of John Musto and Mark Campbell’s THE INSPECTOR at Wolf Trap, VA.

Robert Orth began his career in summer stock doing plays and musicals, and has performed such roles as Fredrik Egerman in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, Billy Bigelow in CAROUSEL, El Gallo in THE FANTASTICKS, Henry Higgins in MY FAIR LADY, and, most often, Don Quixote in THE MAN OF LA MANCHA. His recordings include Menotti’s THE TELEPHONE, SIX CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF AN AUTHOR, HARVEY MILK, DEAD MAN WALKING, HANSEL AND GRETEL, GRAPES OF WRATH, NIXON IN CHINA, SHINING BROW, and BRIEF ENCOUNTER.

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Suggested Operatic Repertoire

Ariadne auf naxosMusic Master/Herlekin
The Aspern PapersThe LodgerArgento
The Ballad of Baby DoeHorace Tabor
Il Barbiere di SivigliaFigaro
La bohémeMarcello
Gianni SchicchiBuoso's GhostChing
CandideVoltaire/Pangloss/Cacambo/Martin
La cenerentolaDandini
Cosí fan tutteAlfonso and Guglielmo
Dead Man WalkingOwen HartHeggie
Die FledermausEisenstein
L'Elisir D'amoreBelcore
L'etoileKing OufChabrier
FalstaffFord
FaustValentin
Gianni SchicchiGianni Schicchi
Hänsel und GretelThe Witch/The Father
Harvey MilkHarvey MilkWallace
H.M.S. PinaforeCaptain Corcoran
IntermezzoRobert
Love For Three OrangesTruffaldino
Lovers and FriendsBabbit CrossLaChiusa
Le nozze di FigaroCount Almaviva
Orpheus in the UnderworldJupiter/Pluto/Orpheus
La PericholeThe Viceroy/Paquillo
Madama ButterflySharpless
Makropulos CaseKolenati
The Merry WidowDanillo
Die MeistersingerBeckmesser
The MikadoKoKo
The Pearl FishersZurga
Roméo et JulietteMercutio
Six Characters in Search of an AuthorThe FatherWeisgall
Shining BrowFrank Lloyd WrightHagen
La traviataGermont
The TelephoneBen
A View from the BridgeAlfieriBolcom
A Waterbird TalkThe LecturerArgento
Die ZauberflötePapageno
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Orchestral Repertoire
Elijah
Carmina Burana
Brahms Requiem
Faure Requiem
Britten's War Requiem
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Musical Theatre
KismetHajj
The FantasticksEl Gallo
Man of La ManchaDon Quixote
My Fair LadyHenry Higgins

Review Excerpts
NIXON IN CHINA, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Portland Opera, Chicago Opera Theatre, Cincinnatti Opera, Opera Colorado, Vancouver Opera, Canadian Opera Company

“Robert Orth, who has been with the production since 2004, is a natural as Nixon, not just because of his uncanny resemblance and warm baritone but because he captures the essence of the president as showman, especially in his exultation over “News.””
Opera News, April 2011

“These have been brilliantly cast. From the first moments of baritone Robert Orth’s descent down the steps of designer Erhard Rom’s life-sized (albeit stylized) Air Force One jet, he is Richard Nixon: The hunched shoulders, used-car salesman’s smile; the fawning, dog-like efforts to impress; and the paranoid facial mannerisms all ring true. So does Orth’s singing. His diction was immaculate, and each syllable was masterfully inflected. Dissimulation, weakness, pride and, ultimately, pathos: All co-existed uneasily in Orth’s multifaceted characterization.”
The Globe and Mail, March 15, 2010.

“All six of the principals achieved dramatic and musical results of the highest quality. The first entry of Robert Orth, as Nixon, emerging from Air Force One at the top of the steps, drew an appreciative chuckle from the audience: his exuberant wave to the welcoming committee awakened memories of the real Nixon’s arrogant gesture of supposed triumph when he left Washington in disgrace. Orth is a singing actor of rare subtlety, and he managed to capture both the irrepressible cockiness of the great presidential crook and a touch of the almost sympathetic human weakness that underlay it.”
Seen and Heard, March 22, 2010

“But baritone Robert Orth in the title role deserves special mention: His voice seems made for Adams’s music. His physical characterization is unnervingly accurate; his clear and unaffected diction perfectly conveys Goodman’s wordy but rich texts.”
The Vancouver Sun, March 15, 2010

“Robert Orth’s characterization of Nixon was nothing short of brilliant, resonantly sung and borrowing just enough physical mannerism from its model to evoke the politician’s spirit without descending into sketch-comedy stereotype.”
Opera News

“The supremely talented Robert Orth captured Nixon’s high-strung, self-satisfied character with beautiful command of the physical and poetic language of the role, as Nixon struggled to find points of contact with the impenetrable Asians.”
Opera News

“Robert Orth’s Nixon validated St. Louis’s all-English-language policy with singing that began with words, and used music to give them life.”
The New York Times

“Driven by baritone Robert Orth’s sensational portrayal of Richard Nixon, the St. Louis production revels in the intimate, deeply human side of Nixon. Orth delivers an almost frightfully detailed portrayal. The baritone has the gestures and tics down.Orth sings lyrically and passionately. He makes Nixon likable in this definitive musical portrayal.”
Houston Chronicle

“Baritone Robert Orth has put his stamp firmly on the title role; a
carefully crafted performance like his doesn’t come along too often. He may not look much like Nixon, but he inhabited the character so completely, singing and acting so compellingly, that we forgot that minor detail.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“The superb Robert Orth, a very human Nixon.”
The Wall Street Journal

“The cast could hardly be improved upon. Orth had Nixon’s forced smile and hunched-shoulder posture down pat — so to speak — and he sang and acted splendidly.”
The Chicago Tribune

“”Your flight was smooth, I hope?” became an insightful character study, thanks to Orth’s zesty self-confidence as Nixon and Yuan’s impenetrably urbane Chou. Orth’s body language–the folded arms, the rocking on his heels, the cocky, uplifted chin–evoked the former president without a hint of caricature. In the extended aria, “News has a kind of mystery,” Orth was gripping as a savvy Nixon well aware of his place in history. Using all the resources of his rich, flexible baritone, he hammered away at Adams’ repetitious phrases, repeating the words as if Nixon’s brilliant mind could barely contain his myriad thoughts.”
The Chicago Sun Times

“Baritone Robert Orth’s Nixon was complex and sympathetic. There was no hint of caricature in his portrayal.”
The Financial Times

“Nixon’s the one in baritone Robert Orth’s clear-voiced and likable interpretation.”
St. Louis Post Dispatch

“Robert Orth’s portrayal of Nixon is stunning in its perfection – the body language, the head movements, the attitude are so on-target as to be chilling. At times, I thought I was seeing the former president, and it was a little frightening.”
KWMU

“Robert Orth’s glowingly nerdish Nixon. Orth artfully balances Tricky Dick’s ungainliness and physical eccentricities against his seriousness of purpose and concern for the practical work he hopes to accomplish. His singing is crisp and to the point.”
The Riverfront Times

THE INSPECTOR, Wolf Trap Opera

“The plum role went to Robert Orth, as Mayor Fazzobaldi (say it out loud to get the joke). The stereotype of the greedy local potentate with delusions of grandeur is a comedic standby, and the veteran Orth was able to mine it with just the right tone and a great deal of enjoyment. Indeed, he may have been the deepest character in the whole opera and certainly had the most face time. He was onstage right through the end, when this shaggy-dog story of an opera concluded, to everyone’s credit, with an unexpected and genuinely funny punch line.”
– Washington Post

“As Mayor Fazzobaldi, baritone Robert Orth seemed to be having the time of his life, making the most of ample opportunities for mugging, preening, and hogging the stage—just like a real politician. His brusquely comic voice was perfect for the part and every one of his entrances enlivened the proceedings.”
Washington Times

“It would be hard to improve on the cast, many of them alumni of the Wolf Trap Opera Company training program. As Mayor Fazzobaldi (subtlety is not the hallmark of this opera) baritone Robert Orth creates a marvelous caricature of small-minded, self-satisfied officialdom.”
– ABC News

“Orth is well-cast as Fazzobaldi, capable of delivering Musto’s lively and engaging music and also capable of delivering the considerable humor of Campbell’s libretto.”
–  Washington Examiner

COSI FAN TUTTE, Portland Opera

“Don Alfonso is sung by theatrical baritone Robert Orth, a veteran of light opera. He matches up with Christine Brandes’ high-energy Despina…The middle-aged soul mates keep up the momentum. They often steal the show from the handsome sets of younger lovers.”
ConcertoNet, February 9, 2010

“We know we’re in good hands from the moment Robert Orth strides across the width of the stage and dons a white coat. The love doctor is in. Orth, a veteran character singer who excels in comedy, sets the action in motion as the old bachelor.”
– Oregonean, February 7, 2010

THE MIKADO, Orlando Opera

“At the center of this tale is Ko-Ko, the ineffective and sometimes dithering Lord High Executioner, very well played by Robert Orth. His exaggerated physical movements emphasize the plot’s farcical elements.”
Orlando Sentinel, February 13, 2005

IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, Indianapolis Opera

“Leading the well-matched set of singers was the elegantly sophisticated, ebullient Figaro of Robert Orth, vocally incisive, brightly pointed, achieving an artful characterization though vocal means, relying less on physical comedy.”
Opera News, January 2005

THE END OF THE AFFAIR, Houston Grand Opera

“Robert Orth wistfully renders the role of Parkis, the detective swayed by her kindness.”
San Francisco Chronicle, March 6, 2004

“As the detective Mr. Parkis, baritone Robert Orth added to the interesting characters surrounding Sarah and Maurice.”
Houston Chronicle, March 5, 2004