If you had to name a singer who has spent the better part of his career performing new American opera, Robert Orth would likely top your list. From his 1977 debut as John Buchanan, Jr., in Lee Hoiby’s Summer and Smoke at Chicago Opera Theater to his 2011 tour de force as the wily, corrupt Mayor Fazzobaldi in John Musto’s The Inspector at Wolf Trap, the baritone has forged a distinctive niche plumbing the hearts and psyches of new characters.
And if you could see and hear this singer, still in his prime after 37 years in the business, you’d probably feel as dazzled as I was at The Inspector’s world premiere. Orth ruled the stage with high-wattage magnetism, perfect diction, and elegant singing, all produced with effortless charm. To quote Anne Midgette in the Washington Post, “The stereotype of the greedy local potentate with delusions of grandeur is a comedic standby, and the veteran Orth was able to mine it with just the right tone and a great deal of e...
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