American baritone Morgan Smith is one of the most prolific performers of modern operatic repertoire in the world. Known for his riveting dramatic portrayals and the power and beauty of his voice, Mr. 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 Scarpia (Tosca), Escamillo (Carmen), 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.
Morgan begins 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 revisits the role of Eugene Onegin with Livermore Valley Opera before heading to Seattle as soloist in Mozart's Requiem with Seattle Symphony. Later this season, Morgan returns to Miami to sing one of his favorite roles with Florida Grand Opera, Sharpless (Madama Butterfly), and debuts 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 Opera, Austin 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 Opera, Pittsburgh 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.
Morgan 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.
Further in contemporary repertoire, Morgan Smith created the role of Ted Steinert in Thomas Pasatieri’s Frau Margot in the world premiere at Fort Worth Opera, and on the recording (Albany Records); he covered Gerald Finley as Robert Oppenheimer in the world premiere of John Adams' Dr. Atomic, commissioned by San Francisco Opera; he sang the world premiere of Richard Cummings' Aspects of Hippolytus with Hartford Symphony, and created the title role in the Tony Kushner/Maurice Sendak adaptation of Hans Krasa's children's opera, Brundibar (recorded by NAXOS).
A graduate of Columbia College at Columbia University and Mannes College of Music in New York City, Morgan became a Seattle Opera young artist (1999-2000) and in 2001 there made his professional debut as Donald in Billy Budd. A great favorite in Seattle, Mr. Smith has performed roles in 12 other productions since that debut -- including Count Alamaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni (title role), Silvio in I Pagliacci, Riccardo in I Puritani, and Peter Niles in Mourning Becomes Electra.
A regular on the concert stage, Mr. Smith made his Dallas Symphony debut in Bach's St. Matthew Passion, 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 and Mass in G Minor 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.
Brundibar, Krása, Naxos Records, 2006
Camp Songs, Schoenfield, Naxos Records, 2008
Frau Margot, Pasatieri & Corsaro, Albany Records, 2007
For a Look of a Touch, Heggie & Scheer, Naxos Records, 2008
The Creation, Haydn, Bellevue Presbyterian, 2010
Moby-Dick: 2010 World Premiere Excerpts, Heggie & Scheer, Dallas Opera, 2010
Moby-Dick (DVD), Heggie & Scheer, San Francisco Opera, 2013
Out of Darkness, Heggie & Scheer, Naxos Records, 2014
Passion, Heggie & Scheer, San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, 2015