American Baritone Robert Gardner has performed with numerous opera houses and symphony orchestras in the U.S., Europe, and Asia including New York City Opera, Washington National Opera, Bavarian National Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Colorado, Central City Opera, Aspen Music Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, Palm Beach Opera, Edmonton Opera, the Munich Philharmonic, Washington Concert Opera, and the major orchestras in Pittsburgh, Seattle, Dallas, Denver, San Diego, Santa Rosa, New Haven, Kansas City, and Daejeon in S. Korea among many others.
Gardner’s opera credits include several leading baritone roles, such as Germont in La Traviata, Marcello in La Bohème, Eugene Onegin, Belcore in L’Elisir D’Amore, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, Zurga in The Pearl Fishers, Robert Storch in R. Strauss’ domestic comedy Intermezzo as well as Jochanaan in Salome, Michele and Gianni Schicchi in Il Trittico, among many other standard and new works.
Gardner’s concert repertoire includes Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, and Kindertotenlieder, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, several cantatas by J. S. Bach, including his three solo cantatas for bass, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Missa Solemnis, R. V. Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols, Five Mystical Songs, and Dona Nobis Pacem, Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, as well as the world premiere of Aaron Jay Kernis’ Symphony No. 3., “Symphony of Meditations” written for Gardner as the featured soloist, commissioned by the Seattle Symphony and premiered with Gerard Schwartz still at its helm.
Gardner’s recital engagements have been richly varied and widely performed, they include appearances in New York City, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Munich, Paris and Marseille, including several for the Pro Musicis Foundation with collaborative pianist Lydia Brown, and for the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York and the Austrian Embassy in Washington D.C. singing songs by Mahler with collaborative pianist Thomas Bagwell. Gardner also has performed all-Charles Ives solo recitals in New York, San Francisco, Dallas, and Denver, and is a featured soloist on the complete song oeuvre of Ives, available in a 6-CD set on the Naxos label.
Mr. Gardner is a roster artist of the American Modern Ensemble in New York, singing new music by many living composers, including John Harbison, Aaron Jay Kernis, Robert Paterson, David Heuser, John Adams and Jake Heggie among others. Other new music projects include an evening-length work being written for him by Grammy-winning composer Gabriela Lena Frank for piano/orchestra and baritone; a unique setting of texts by Nicaraguan poet Pablo Antonio Cuadra entitled The Songs of Cifar and the Sweet Sea, most recently performed and recorded at Music@Menlo in Menlo Park, California. Robert has also been instrumental in the creation of new operas, including Invisible Child by Robert Paterson, performing a character conceived for Robert in the role of Stephan, an ice road trucker. Work on other new operas include Before Night Falls by Jorge Martín, and Sarah and Hagar by composer Gerald Cohen.
Gardner has been featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition, Boston’s WGBH Radio, New York’s WQXR Radio, Denver’s KVOD Radio, and on the A&E Channel’s Breakfast With the Arts, as well as on several seasonal PBS broadcasts.
Robert Gardner is the 2007 winner of the Lili Boulanger Memorial Award, the third singer in its prestigious history chosen by the foundation started in 1936 by famed teacher-pianist-conductor Nadia Boulanger. A 2001 Pro Musicis International Award winner, he is also the winner of the 1999 William Matheus Sullivan Foundation Award, and the 2000 Gerda Lissner Award. He trained at Yale Opera of the Yale University School of Music under Richard and Doris Cross and Sherrill Milnes, and participated in young artist programs with Santa Fe Opera, the Bavarian National Opera in Munich, and the Steans Institute for Young Artists at Ravinia in Chicago.
Robert is also an accomplished choral conductor, clinician, and teacher, and he has been a member of the Society of American Fight Directors choreographing safe, yet effective stage stunts professionally.
Friends know him to be fanatical about the great outdoors, particularly catch-and-release bass and trout fishing, mountain hiking, nature photography, fitness and nutrition, a champion animal trainer, and a former owner-operator of three 18-wheeler semi trucks. He also has been known as somewhat of a coffee sommelier, sampling and critiquing with friends various beans from the finest coffee-growing regions around the globe.