AZO Cast Members & Creatives
American baritone Morgan Smith is one of the most sought after 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 12 roles in world premieres, including Starbuck in Jake Heggie's widely acclaimed Moby-Dick. Mr. Smith has also earned universal praise for performances in traditional repertoire, notably Marcello (La bohème), Escamillo (Carmen), title role of Don Giovanni, Sharpless (Madama Butterfly), Count Alamaviva (The Marriage of Figaro) and Four Villains (The Tales of Hoffmann).
Baritone Morgan Smith begins the 2017-18 season at Lyric Opera of Kansas City in his title role debut of Eugene Onegin, then returns to the role of Joseph De Rocher Dead Man Walking at Kentucky Opera. He returns to Kansas City to collaborate once more with Maestro Matthew Halls for Handel’s Messiah with the Kansas City Symphony. Mr. Smith is excited to debut Scarpia in Tosca with the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra next spring.
Mr. Smith began last season as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly at Kentucky Opera; he traveled to reprise his critically acclaimed Starbuck at Dallas Opera, and then headed overseas to Oper Leipzig to sing the role of Marcello in La bohème. Performances of a Fauré Requiem with San Antonio Symphony followed. A highlight of the season was the world premiere of Craig Bohmler's Riders of the Purple Sage with Arizona Opera last February. Mr. Smith then joined the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra singing Marcello before heading north to Opera on the Avalon to sing Joseph de Rocher in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking. He then had the great pleasure of reuniting with Maestro Matthew Halls in July 2017 at the Oregon Bach Festival, performing Beethoven's Missa Solemnis.
Recent successes include Don Giovanni with Arizona Opera, Austin Opera, and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly at Opéra de Montréal. He received rave reviews at Los Angeles Opera in 2015 and Dallas in 2016 when he revived his celebrated portrayal of Starbuck in Moby-Dick. Mr. Smith made his debut as the Four Villains in The Tales of Hoffmann at Madison Opera and was praised as bringing "variety and flair" to all four characters.
Other successes include Escamillo in Carmen at Vancouver Opera, Pittsburgh Opera and Fort Worth Opera; Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Seattle Symphony, and Marcello at San Diego Opera. 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 The Barber of Seville, Billy in The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Papageno in The Magic Flute, 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 graduate of Columbia College 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 Don Giovanni (title role), Silvio in I Pagliacci, Riccardo in I Puritani, and Peter Niles in Mourning Becomes Electra.
Renowned 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 created the role of Jim Crowley in Jack Perla's American Dream at Seattle Opera, 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).
Trained as a cellist from a very young age, Mr. Smith brings an instrumentalist's level of musicality and interpretive sensitivity to his performances 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.
Conductors who have joined him on the podium include 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, William Lacey, Joseph Mechavich, and Ken Masur.