Robert Orth has performed 134 roles in opera and musicals in scores of cities including London, Berlin, Rome, New York, San Francisco, Houston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Portland, Washington D.C., 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, Indianapolis, Phoenix and Washington, D.C., in repertoire ranging from Brahms' REQUIEM to Broadway pops to his most repeated symphonic piece, CARMINA BURANA.
Performing new American operas has brought Mr. Orth great pleasure and acclaim. He was John Buchanan, Jr., in Lee Hoiby's SUMMER AND SMOKE (based on the Tennessee Williams play), 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 central role of the Father in Hugo Weissgall's SIX CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF AN AUTHOR in its second professional production. He created the title role in the world premiere of HARVEY MILK by Stewart Wallace and Michael Korie in Houston, New York and San Francisco. In 1997 he portrayed Frank Lloyd Wright in SHINING BROW, a new opera by Daron Aric Hagen, based on the life of the great American architect. In 2000 he played Owen Hart in San Francisco in the world premiere of DEAD MAN WALKING, with music by Jake Heggie and libretto by Terrence McNally. In 2001 he premiered Michael John LaChiusa's LOVERS AND FRIENDS (CHATAUQUA VARIATIONS) in Chicago. In 2002 he premiered Garrison Keillor's new opera 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. That same year he first portrayed Richard Nixon in John Adams' NIXON IN CHINA in St. Louis, and subsequently in Portland, Chicago, Cincinnati, Denver, Vancouver, Toronto, London and Berlin. In 2007 he was Uncle John in the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon's THE GRAPES OF WRATH, and Capt. Compson in MIDNIGHT ANGEL by David Carlson. In 2008 he premiered SINNERS in San Jose, a song cycle written for him by Craig Bohmler and Marion Adler. That fall he was LBJ in Dallas in the world premier of Steven Stucky and Gene Scheer's AUGUST 4,1964. He was Albert Godby in the world premiere of Andre Previn's BRIEF ENCOUNTER in 2009. And in 2010, he created the role of Mr. Stubb in the world premiere of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer's MOBY DICK. In 2011 he sang two world premieres. He was Mayor Fazzobaldi in the world premiere of John Musto and Mark Campbell's THE INSPECTOR with Wolf Trap Opera, and Sir Anthony Absolute in Kirke Mechem's THE RIVALS with The Milwaukee Skylight Opera. He played Blazes in Peter Maxwell Davies THE LIGHTHOUSE in 2012, in Dallas. In 2013 in St. Louis, Mr. Orth created the role of Howie Albert in the world premiere of Terence Blanchard's CHAMPION. And in 2014, he was Simon Powers in Tod Machover's DEATH AND THE POWERS. In 2016, he was Gad Beck in the premiere of AFTER LIFE by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer. In 2017, he played Charles Knight in the world premiere of John Musto's RHODA AND THE FOSSIL HUNT at the New York Museum of Natural History. He was Orson #3 in the world premiere of Daron Hagen's ORSON REHEARSED in 2018. In the same year he played The Officer in Philip Glass' IN THE PENAL COLONY. And in 2019, he was in the premiere of two of the three one-act operas about Grant Wood entitled STROKES OF GENIUS. His recordings include THE TELEPHONE by Giancarlo Menotti, NIXON IN CHINA, SIX CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF AN AUTHOR, HARVEY MILK, DEAD MAN WALKING, HANSEL AND GRETEL, SHINING BROW, THE GRAPES OF WRATH, BRIEF ENCOUNTER, AFTER LIFE, and THE INSPECTOR.
Mr. Orth also enjoys performing the most popular and familiar operas and operettas. Figaro in THE BARBER OF SEVILLE and Eisenstein in DIE FLEDERMAUS have been his most repeated roles. He has often appeared as Malatesta in DON PASQUALE, Danilo in THE MERRY WIDOW, Guglielmo in COSI FAN TUTTE, Dandini in LA CENERENTOLA, Germont in LA TRAVIATA, and Sharpless in MADAMA BUTTERFLY.
Robert Orth began his career in summer stock doing plays and musicals and continues to do them whenever possible. He has been Billy Bigelow in CAROUSEL, El Gallo in THE FANTASTICKS, Henry Higgins in MY FAIR LADY, Fredrik in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, and, most often, Don Quixote in THE MAN OF LA MANCHA.