American tenor Roy Cornelius Smith has established himself among the ranks of the finest tenors of his generation through his voice of exceptional color and beauty, his compelling dramatic interpretations, and outstanding musicianship.
Highlights of his performances include Calaf, opposite Lise Lindstrom and Maria Guleghina (Deutsche Opera Berlin), Dick Johnson opposite Deborah Voigt with Sir Andrew Davis conducting (Lyric Opera of Chicago), and Otello with Krassimira Stoyanova conducted by Dan Ettinger (Nationaltheater Mannheim), Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana, directed by Kasper Holten as well as Canio in I Pagliacci, directed by Paul Curran under the baton of Stefano Ranzani at the Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen and with the Norwegian National Opera and Opera Las Palmas. He has also premiered numerous new productions including Dick Johnson in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West directed by Tilman Knabe, the title role in Don Carlo directed by Jens-Daniel Herzog, Max in Der Freischütz directed by Armin Holz, Hagenbach in La Wally directed by Tilman Knabe, Florestan in Fidelio directed by Markus Bothe and conducted by Julia Jones, Dionysus in The Bassarids by Henze directed by Frank Hilbrich, and Eléazar in La Juive directed by Peter Konwitschny.
Recent performances include Verdi’s Messa da Requiem and Verdi’s Aida in Mannheim, Der Kaiser in Die Frau ohne Schatten in Leipzig, his debut in France as Eleazar in La Juive with the Opéra national du Rhin in Strasbourg, the title role in Verdi’s Otello with the Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen and his role debut as Tristan at the San Francisco War Memorial Performing Arts Center Herbst Theater with the Claude Heater Foundation. Joshua Kosman from the San Francisco Chronicle wrote:
“Out of nowhere, an excellent ‘Tristan’ pops up in San Francisco. With conductor Jonathan Khuner leading a vivid rendition, and soprano Juyeon Song and tenor Roy Cornelius Smith blazing forth in the title roles, this was an entirely unexpected delight. As Tristan, Smith deployed a gleaming vocal tone along with heroic vitality, and he made his way through the grueling marathon of Act 3 – in which the tenor holds the stage almost single-handedly for something like 45 minutes – without betraying either fatigue or concern.
The San Francisco Classical Voice stated:
“Tristan was Roy Cornelius Smith, a powerful tenor with a large, grainy sound reminiscent of Jon Vickers…”
A past winner of the New York Metropolitan Opera Auditions, 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. (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.
Born in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, Mr. Smith 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. He currently resides in Vienna Austria.