Bass-baritone Robert Osborne has long been an admired favorite on the American orchestral-concert scene, while establishing himself as a respected operatic artist as well. During his eight city tour of the United States as King George III in Peter Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King the New York Times headlined him as “A Singer Who Goes All the Way” and hailed his “thrilling performance both vocally and dramatically.” He has performed operas in such venues as Carnegie Hall, BAM, Merkin Hall, Théâtre de l’Odéon in Paris, Hubble Theatre in Berlin, and Royce Theatre in Los Angeles, while singing major roles in six premiere CD’s for Albany, ECM, Arabesque, Wergo and Koch. He has performed over forty roles with Santa Fe (Old Prudence in Rochberg’s The Confidence Man and Sprecher in Mozart’s The Magic Flute); Singapore Symphony (Sam in Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti); Houston Grand Opera on tour in Paris, Berlin and New York (Old Man of Forest in Meredith Monk’s Atlas); Mabou Mines (Father in Torikai’s Red Beads); Guthrie Theatre (George Washington in Soldier’s Naked Revolution); Vermont Symphony (Death in Ullmann’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis); Concert Royal Baroque Opera (Tirtée in Rameau’s Les Fêtes d’Hébé); Artek (Lucifer in Stradella’s Ah, troppo è ver); Vineyard Opera (Lubino in Martin y Soler’s Una Cosa Rara); Rockland Opera (Blansac in Rossini’s La Scala di Seta); Berkshire Opera (Conte Robinson in Cimarosa’s Il Matrimonio Segreto); and the Opera Ensemble of New York (Horace Giddens in Blitzstein’s Regina). He is engaged to reprise the role of King George III in Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King in February 2004. In the musical theatre repertoire, he has appeared in four City Center Encore! productions, in the Bernstein at 70! Gala from Tanglewood, and in the BAM Salutes Sondheim Gala.
Highlights of his orchestral engagements have included Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra; Bernstein’s Songfest with Leonard Bernstein and the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra at Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall and London’s Royal Albert Proms Concerts; Bernstein’s Songfest with Yo-Yo Ma, Michael Tilson Thomas and the Boston Symphony Orchestra; Mozart’s Coronation Mass with the Moscow Virtuosi and Vladimir Spivakov at Avery Fisher Hall; Stravinsky’s Les Noces with the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia; Shostakovich’s Fourteenth Symphony with Boston’s SinfoNova; Shostakovich’s Six Romances on British Verse with the RWCCO Orchestra; Shostakovich’s Eight British and American Folksongs with the Racine Symphony; Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra; Handel’s Messiah with the Corning Philharmonic; Mozart’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall; Dvorak’s Requiem with the Chamber Orchestra of New England; arias and songs with the United States Military Academy Band; Blitzstein and Gershwin songs with the New World Symphony; and Kapilow’s Polar Express and Elijah’s Angel with the Fleet Boston Celebrity Series. He also frequently appears as a soloist with many of the premiere choral groups in the U.S.: Dessoff Choir, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, Riverside Choral Society, Tallis Scholars, and Sacred Music in a Sacred Space.
Much of Robert Osborne’s musical life has been devoted to works of the 20th Century. To this end, he has sung on numerous occasions with such cutting edge new music ensembles/venues as the Concertgebouw, Sonic Boom Festival, Music at the Anthology, Newband, counter)induction, Intergalactic Contemporary Ensemble, Boston Musica Viva, Lower Eastside Ensemble, Outer Voices Festival, Yerba Buena Center, Tzadik Festival, Great Day in New York Festival, Lincoln Center Festival, Washington Square Contemporary Music Society, Sacramento’s Festival of New American Music, and the Friends and Enemies of New Music. Composers Aaron Jay Kernis, Tom Cipullo, Lee Hyla, George Rochberg, Meredith Monk, John David Earnest, David Leisner, Richard Wilson, Stewart Wallace, Bun Ching Lam, Ryan Dorin, Ushio Torikai, David Soldier, Raphael Mostel, Dean Drummond, Victoria Bond, Ben Yarmolinsky, and Toby Twining have chosen him to debut their compositions.
Mr. Osborne’s list of Festival appearances is lengthy, and includes Tanglewood, Aspen, Schleswig-Holstein, Redwoods, Cape May, Marlboro, Festival Classico di Linari, Nakamichi Baroque, and Berlin’s USArts Festival. He has been a frequent visitor with such chamber organizations as the New World Symphony Chamber Series, New York Chamber Ensemble, Consortium, Perspectives Ensemble, Artek, Violins du Roy, San Francisco’s Magnificat, the Long Island Baroque Ensemble, Hudson Valley Chamber Music Circle, Connecticut Chamber Orchestra, Pacem in Terris Festival, and the Bronx Arts Ensemble.
Newly released CD’s include Harry Partch’s The Wayward (role of Objective Voice) for Wergo, and an upcoming recording of Schubert’s Winterreise. His operatic recordings include Viktor Ullmann’s The Emperor of Atlantis, Hindemith’s Hin und zurück, Meredith Monk’s Atlas, and Stewart Wallace’s Kaballah. His solo recordings include Songs of Leo Sowerby, Orchestral Songs of Shostakovich, Songs of John Alden Carpenter, and Songs of Henry Cowell which was hailed by Michael Tilson Thomas in the New York Times as one of the most eagerly anticipated musical events of the season. Chamber music recordings include Aaron Kernis’ Death Fugue, Elias Tanenbaum’s monodrama Last Letters from Stalingrad, Tom Cipullo’s Landscape with Figures, and Frank Martin’s Le vin herbé for Newport Classics which was lauded as Editor’s Choice in the July 2000 Opera News. Other labels include Albany, Arabesque, ECM, Gothic, Innova, Koch, Mercury, Opus One, Pelagos, and Poppy Records. His television appearances have been on the BBC Omnibus Series, Soviet Arts Television, and on the PBS Great Performances broadcast of the Bernstein at 70! Gala from Tanglewood as well as Musical Outsiders: An American Legacy featured at the Louvre and on PBS, German and Austrian television.
Robert Osborne has researched, recorded, and performed extensively the little-known works of John Alden Carpenter, Henry Cowell, Leo Sowerby, and Harry Partch. A dedicated singer of art songs, he has presented recitals throughout the United States as well as in France and Italy. Mr. Osborne was brought up in Washington, D.C. and holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Yale University School of Music. He is on the faculty of Vassar College.