Baritone

Hailed as a “gifted and fiercely committed baritone whose voice is spacious and reverberant,” (Opera News) Robert Wesley Mason (he/they) has established themselves as one of today’s most versatile performers, employing “his mighty baritone to stunning effect, using interpretive phrasing and nuanced delivery” (Albany Times Union). In their teenage years, inspired by rock vocalists like Chris Cornell and Jeff Buckley, Wes sang in local bands and played solo in coffee houses in his hometown of Norfolk, Virginia. Voice lessons led to a passion for opera and new music that continues to this day.

An acclaimed interpreter of contemporary works as well as the inherited repertoire, Wes has performed more than 50 unique operatic roles. Highlights include Hannah Before in As One with Pensacola Opera, Eugene Opera, and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Jan Nyman in Breaking the Waves with West Edge Opera, Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire with Kentucky Opera, Father Flynn in Doubt with Union Avenue Opera, Jonathan in Siren Song with Hawaii Opera Theatre, Dax/Larry in the world premiere of Paterson and Cote’s Three Way with Nashville Opera and American Opera Project, Charlie in Three Decembers and Ping in Turandot with Nashville Opera, the title role in Hamlet with Fort Worth Opera, the title role in Guillaume Tell with the Southern Illinois Music Festival, Reinaldo Arenas in the world premiere of Martín and Koch’s Before Night Falls with Fort Worth Opera, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore with Gulfshore Opera, Masetto in Don Giovanni with Opera Philadelphia and Opera Naples, Achilla in Giulio Cesare with Opera Roanoke, Escamillo in Carmen with Fargo-Moorhead Opera, Escamillo in La Tragédie de Carmen with Syracuse Opera, Marcello in La bohème with Hawaii Opera Theatre, Fort Worth Opera, and Norwalk Symphony, Schaunard in La bohème with the Crested Butte Music Festival, Zurga in Les pêcheurs de perles with Opera Delaware and Baltimore Concert Opera, the baritone soloist in Broadway Extravaganza with Opera Hong Kong, Sciarrone in Tosca with Dallas Opera, and Morales in Carmen with the Glimmerglass Festival and Michigan Opera Theater.

Recently, Wes returned to Michigan Opera Theatre to perform the role of Figaro in Ragnar Kjartansson’s performance piece Bliss, a continuous 12-hour singing marathon based on Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. In 2020, Wes made his Off-Broadway debut as Wotan/Gunther/Hagen in On Site Opera’s production of Das Barbecü. Other noted stage performances include Billy Bigelow in Carousel with Union Avenue Opera and Utah Festival Opera Musical Theater, Curly in Oklahoma! with Maryland Live Arts and UFOMT, Bishop Myriel in Les Misérables with UFOMT, Frank Butler (u/s) in Annie Get Your Gun with the Glimmerglass Festival, and a staged version of Elvis Costello’s The Juliet Letters at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia with Urban Arias.

A passionate advocate for new works, Wes has enjoyed working with such composers as Laura Kaminsky, Luna Pearl Woolf, Missy Mazzoli, Stephen Schwartz, Jimmy Roberts, Jake Heggie, Jonathan Dove, Ricky Ian Gordon, Jorge Martín, Conrad Cummings, Robert Paterson, Glen Roven, Mark Adamo, Clint Borzoni, and Robert Maggio.

Mason has been featured on the world premiere cast recordings of Three Wayas Dax/Larry with Naxos and Before Night Fallsas Reinaldo Arenas with Albany Records. He was a recipient of a Career Development Award from the Sullivan Foundation, a finalist in the Opera Index Competition, an Encouragement Award Winner in the Loren L. Zachary Society Competition, a Regional Winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (MONCA), an Encouragement Award Winner at the District Level of the MONCA, a three-time nominee for the Sarah Tucker Study Grant, and the recipient of the Earl V. Moore Award for Outstanding Contribution to the School of Music, Theater, and Dance at the University of Michigan. Wes is a graduate of the prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia and received a Bachelor’s in Voice Performance from the University of Michigan.

Known for his riveting dramatic portrayals and the power and beauty of his voice, American baritone Morgan Smith has been entrusted to create 16 roles in world premieres, including Starbuck in Jake Heggie’s widely celebrated Moby-Dick. Mr. Smith has also earned universal praise for performances in traditional repertoire, notably Escamillo (Carmen), the title role of Don Giovanni, Sharpless (Madama Butterfly), Count Alamaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Four Villains (Les contes d’Hoffmann), and the title role of Eugene Onegin.

Most recently, Morgan’s work as Richard in Kevin Puts’ The Hours has been heard in workshops with Cincinnati Opera (2021) and The Metropolitan Opera (2022), as well as a cover assignment with the Philadelphia Orchestra (2022).

Prior to the impact of COVID, Morgan began the 2019/20 season fresh from two highly successful role debuts with Cincinnati Opera: Musiklehrer (Ariadne auf Naxos), and Earl Mann in the widely anticipated and greatly acclaimed premiere of Scott Davenport Richards’ and David Cote’s Blind Injustice. He revisited the role of Eugene Onegin with Livermore Valley Opera before appearing in Seattle as soloist in Mozart’s Requiem with the Seattle Symphony. Later that season, Morgan debuted with the Atlanta Symphony as soloist in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music, and J. S. Bach’s Cantata 29.

Recent successes include Scarpia in Tosca with National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, Herman in Ben Moore’s Enemies, a Love Story with Kentucky Opera, Paul Jobs in The (R)Evolution of Steve Jobs with Seattle Opera, Tadeusz in Weinberg’s The Passenger with Israeli Opera, Joseph De Rocher in Dead Man Walking with Welsh National Opera, his title role debut of Eugene Onegin at Lyric Opera Kansas City, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly at Kentucky Opera and Opéra de Montréal; the reprise of his critically acclaimed Starbuck at Dallas Opera and LA Opera, Marcello in La bohème with Oper Leipzig and San Diego Opera. Mr. Smith performed Don Giovanni with Arizona OperaAustin Opera, and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He received rave reviews for his riveting portrayal of Joseph De Rocher in Dead Man Walking at Kentucky Opera and Opera on the Avalon in 2017.

Other performances of note included Escamillo in Carmen at Vancouver OperaPittsburgh Opera and Fort Worth Opera and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Seattle Symphony. He joined the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus at Davies Hall to revive the role of Manfred in Jake Heggie’s poignant For a Look or a Touch (another role he created). Mr. Smith starred as Aaron in the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s Morning Star at Cincinnati Opera, for which he won outstanding reviews. He sang Adam Brant in Mourning Becomes Electra at Florida Grand Opera; Tadeusz in The Passenger in the US premiere of David Pountney’s production at both Houston Grand Opera and Lincoln Center Festival; and Fritz in Die tote Stadt at Dallas Opera. Mr. Smith was honored to sing the role of Lieutenant Audebert in Silent Night in Fort Worth Opera’s presentation of Kevin Puts’ Pulitzer Prize winning opera.

Smith made his European guest artist debut at the Berliner Staatsoper in 2011, performing Marcello in La bohème. Fully fluent in German, Mr. Smith joined Oper Leipzig in 2009 as a resident artist. Over the following four years he sang Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Billy in The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, Leandre in The Love for Three Oranges, Whitelaw Savory in One Touch of Venus, Marcello in La bohème, and Guglielmo in Così fan tutte

A regular on the concert stage, Mr. Smith made his Dallas Symphony debut in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion under the baton of Jaap van Zweden, and debuted with the San Antonio Symphony for the North American premiere of Vier Präludien und Ernste Gesänge, Detlef Glanert’s orchestral adaptation of the beloved cycle by Brahms. Other concert repertoire includes Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony; the Requiems of Brahms, Fauré, Mozart and Duruflé; the Mass in C Minor of Mozart, Mass in G Minor and Serenade to Music of Vaughan Williams; Bach’s B Minor Mass, numerous Cantatas, and Weihnachts Oratorium; Handel’s Messiah and L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato; and Haydn’s The Creation and Lord Nelson Mass.

Morgan has collaborated with prolific conductors such as Jaap van Zweden, Donald Runnicles, Itzhak Perlman, James Conlon, Ulf Schirmer, Christopher Allen, Robert Spano, Markus Stenz, Jacques LaCombe, Andreas Stöhr, Gerard Schwarz, Matthew Halls, Patrick Summers, Eduardo Mueller, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Sebastian Lang-Lessing, Joseph Colaneri, George Manahan, Ramón Tebar, Jack Everly, Joseph Mechavich, James Meena, Emmanuel Villaume, Ken Masur, John DeMain, Ari Pelto, and Antony Walker.