Biography

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ROBERT CANTRELL, bass-baritone, has been described by the Washington Post critic Joseph McLellan as “a warm supple voice that brought out the lyrical intentions of the composers making them treasured moments.”

Robert Cantrell’s 2016-2017 performance appearances include Mother’s Lament (Premiere) by James Lee, Mozart’s Requiem with the Bay Atlantic Symphony, Brahms Requiem with the Baltimore School for the Arts at Shriver Hall, a leading role cover of Emile Griffith in Terrence Blanchard’s Champion with Washington National Opera, Champion preview performance at the Washington National Cathedral, Music of the Corner Recital Series at First Baptist Church in Winchester, VA., solo recital at Atholon Seventh Day Adventist, and the role of Bluebeard in Bela Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra.

Cantrell’s 2012-2013 schedule included an Oratorio, For the People, by John “Buzz Jones”, Brahms Requiem with St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church, Handels’ Messiah and Mendelssohns’ Elijah with the Easton Choral Arts, Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes and Mozarts’ Regina Coeli with the Johns Hopkins Chorale, Guest soloist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Coplands’, I Bought Me A Cat, the King of Egypt in Verdi’s Aida with the Annapolis Opera, the Naval Captain in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut with the Washington National Opera and Voice Faculty for Washington National Opera’s Institute for Young Singers at American University.

For the 2010-2011 season, Cantrell will appear as the First Nazarene in Washington National Opera’s Salome by Strauss; Handel’s Messiah with Hood College, and the Prince George’s Philharmonic performance of Verdi’s Requiem. He will sing the role of Stephen Kumalo in Kurt Weill’s Lost in the Stars with the American Opera Project and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with Baltimore Concert Artists.

Cantrell’s 2008-2009 season highlights included the role of Gubetta in Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia starring Renée Fleming at Washington National Opera; bass soloist in Handel’s Israel in Egypt with Baltimore Choral Arts; role of the Bishop in Menotti’s Death of the Bishop of Brindisi  (“Bass-baritone Robert Cantrell possesses a resonant , warm voice and strong acting skills to give a fully dimensional portrait of the Bishop” – Baltimore Sun, Arundel) and Amahl and the Night Visitors with Ann Arundel Community College; bass soloist in Duruflé’s Requiem with the Handel Choir of Baltimore.  He sang with the Metropolitan Opera Chorus in the Met’s 125th Opera Gala. Other solo appearances included Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with AACC, Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs with the Johns Hopkins Choral Society, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Columbia Presbyterian Church.  The Reading Eagle wrote of The Reading Symphony Orchestra’s 4th of July Star Spangled Spectacular: “Extraordinary Bass-Baritone Robert Cantrell’s sumptuous voice, endless breath control and moving delivery swept everyone away.”

Highlights of previous seasons,included recitals on the CCBC Casual Concert Series, Elijah with the Central Maryland Chorale, and the Opera Gala with the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra.  He also appeared in performances of Porgy and Bess with Washington National Opera, singing the role of Jim. Cantrell was bass soloist for the Baltimore Choral Arts concert tour in France and he has appeared annually in the BSO’s Holiday Spectacular.  His opera roles included Commendatore in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Monterone in Verdi’s Rigoletto (“Robert Cantrell was a vibrant Monterone” – Baltimore Sun critic Tim Smith),  Orestes’ Tutor in Strauss’ Elektra, all with Washington National Opera and Tobit in Jonathan Dove’s Tobias and the Angel with Opera Vivente. (“Robert Cantrell’s Tobit nearly stole the show with his rich, plangent bass-baritone and deeply expressive phrasing.” – Baltimore Sun critic Tim Smith)  He was bass soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Choral Fantasy with the Johns Hopkins Symphony and York Symphony Orchestras.  He was also a soloist with the BSO’s Fourth of July 2008 summer concert.

Mr. Cantrell’s also has sung with the Metropolitan Opera Chorus in Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky and Simon Boccanegra by Verdi; role of Porgy in the Porgy and Bess Suite with the Prince George Philharmonic; bass soloist in Mark Hardy’s Requiem with the Masterworks Chorale; role of the Doctor in Macbeth by Verdi with the Washington National Opera; role of Imperial Commissioner in Madama Butterfly with The Washington National Opera, Placido Domingo, conductor; Christmas concerts with the MidAtlantic Symphony: and his Carnegie Hall debut as bass soloist in Mozart’s Requiem with MidAmerica Productions.

Cantrell has performed the role of Jim in Washington National Opera’s Porgy and Bess by Gershwin, the Mozart Requiem with the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with the Concert Artists of Baltimore, and again on the Church of the Reedemer 2016 concert series., two recitals on the Charlestown Retirement Community Chapel Concert Series,  a solo recital at the the Grace United Methodist church, Monteverdi’s Beautus Vir, Mozart’s Missa Brevis and excerpts of Mark Hardy’s Requiem with the Baltimore Masterworks Chorale, as well as Rheinberger’s Star of Bethlehem and Haydn’s Mass in Honor of St. Nicolas with the Grace United Methodist Chancel Choir.

Performances have also included the Verdi Requiem (“Cantrell’s ripe bass filled his solos vividly,” — Baltimore Sun’s Tim Smith).  He has taken on the characters of Schmidt in Giordani’s Andrea Chenier and the Jailer in Puccini’s Tosca with the Washington National Opera, and appeared as a soloist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at its “Fourth of July Spectacular” at Oregon Ridge and its 9/11 Commemorative Concert where Washington Post critic McLellan stated “Robert Cantrell brought a powerful, well-controlled voice to his songs.” Cantrell has also performed The Polar Express with the BSO (2015) and as a featured soloist on their 2016 Family Concert Series roster. He has also appeared in roles with Baltimore Opera, Wolftrap Opera, Opera Delaware, Sarasota Opera, Washington Summer Opera, Opera Vivente, Annapolis Opera and Opera Ebony.

Other appearances include the Music in the Great Hall Concert Series: guest artist (“Sunday’s recital found Cantrell in engaging form.  The level of communication and nuance was always admirable” – Baltimore Sun critic Tim Smith); guest artist; role of King Balthazar in Menotti’s Amahl and The Night Visitors with Opera Vivente (“Robert Cantrell’s stirring bass filled out Balthazar’s music in eloquent fashion” – Baltimore Sun critic Tim Smith).  Other career highlights include a tour of Japan in 2002 with the Washington National Opera, his European operatic debut at the Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi in Italy, Porgy and Bess at the Bregenz Festspielhaus in Austria, Copland’s Old American Songs with the Loudoun Symphony and the role of the Moorish Envoy, his debut with the Washington National Opera starring legendary tenor Placido Domingo on PBS.

Mr. Cantrell is on the voice faculty at the Baltimore School for the Arts and is bass soloist at Grace United Methodist Church.