Roy Cornelius Smith
American tenor Roy Cornelius Smith is fast becoming known for his voice of great natural beauty, his compelling dramatic interpretations, and his fine musicianship. He has already been heard on some of the world’s great operatic stages including the Metropolitan Opera, Salzburger Festspiele, Volksoper Wien, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the New Israeli Opera. He has also appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Orchestra del Teatro Carlo Felice, Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal and with the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra.
His highly successful debut as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with the Volksoper in Vienna led to an invitation to sing Calaf in a new Barbe/Doucet production of Turandot for which he received rave reviews. Musical America exclaimed “his voice is huge, dusky and Italianate, his phrasing and use of dynamics generous and elegant, his stage presence endearing. ‘Nessun dorma,’ sung sweetly, passionately and thrillingly, stopping the show cold (there is no cadence to the aria in the original score, but the explosive ovation and accompanying ‘Bravos!’ were so deafening and prolonged, Hager had no choice but to put down the baton).”
In 2007-08 he performs Calaf in Memphis and Vienna; Erik in Der fliegende Holländer at Opera Grand Rapids; Pinkerton at the Steyr Music Festival in Austria; and Verdi’s Requiem at the Kennedy Center, and with Nashville and Spokane symphonies. In summer of 2007 he performed Pinkerton at the Aspen Music Festival. His 2008-09 season currently includes appearing as soloist in Verdi’s Requiem with the Eugene Symphony.
Recent performances include Canio in Pagliacci with Toledo Opera, Radames in Aida with Opera Birmingham and Hoffegut in Braunfel’s rarity, Die Vögel, at the Spoleto Festival, USA under the baton of Julius Rudel.
He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2000 in Aida and since, has been heard in 11 different productions including Ariadne auf Naxos, An American Tragedy, Aida, Tannhäuser, Le Rossignol, Die Frau Ohne Schatten, The Merry Widow, Boris Godunov, Salome, Lucia di Lammermoor, Nabucco, Simon Boccanegra, and Die Meistersinger.
His international debut occurred in 1998 at the prestigious Salzburger Festspiele, where he sang Fatty, the Bookkeeper, in Kurt Weill’s Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny. (That performance is now available on Kultur DVD/Video with Catherine Malfitano and Dame Gwyneth Jones, conducted by Dennis Russell Davies). Later that same season he reprised the role in English for the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Mr. Smith has made numerous debuts in the past few years which have included performances of Pinkerton with Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, Rodolfo in La bohème with San Antonio Opera and Waco Opera, Don Jose in Carmen with Opera Birmingham and the Sinfonia da Camera, Riccardo in Verdi's first opera Oberto with Sarasota Opera, Ismaele in Nabucco with Pacific Opera Victoria, Laca in Jenůfa with Long Beach Opera, Cavaradossi in Tosca with Opera Memphis, Rodolfo in La bohème with Opera Memphis, Triangle Opera and Augusta Opera.
In one of the most significant advances in his career, Mr. Smith was hand-selected to sing the role of the Rabbi for the reintroduction of Kurt Weill’s opera, Der Weg der Verheissung (The Eternal Road), to the operatic world. The performances for this major music event were held in such eclectic venues as the New Israeli Opera, Expo 2000 in Hannover, Chemnitz Opera, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Conducted by John Mauceri and including a cast of internationally acclaimed opera stars such as Theo Adam, Siegfried Vogel, and Siegfried Lorenz, it was Mr. Smith who was singled out by Opera News, which stated, “Among the singers, the finest was Roy Cornelius Smith, whose rich, true lyric tenor got stronger and handsomer as he progressed through the lengthy, dramatic role of the Rabbi.”
Awards and honors include being a 1990 winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the 1999 MacAllister Awards including the “Audience Favorite Award”, the 1997 Licia Albanese/Puccini International Voice Competition, the Houston Grand Opera Young Artist Awards, and the Eleanor Steber Award from Baltimore Opera. Mr. Smith hails from Big Stone Gap, Virginia, and received both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music from the University of Tennessee and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the American Conservatory of Music.
Opera Carolina Performances: