Richard Bernstein (bass)

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Richard Bernstein

Richard Bernstein (born July 30, 1966 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American bass. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York, with his three siblings, all of whom have followed artistic pursuits and careers,[1] and spent his high school years in Colorado. He attended the University of Southern California and graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance. He is currently a member of the Metropolitan Opera. 2017–18 will be his 23rd consecutive season with the company, where he has 381 performances and 120 international live broadcasts to date with the Met.[2]


After his graduation from college, Bernstein joined the Los Angeles Opera's Resident Artist Program.[3] He became a recurring face with the L.A. Opera for a number of years, performing in several productions in the late 1990s and early 2000s.[4] He began his career as a bass-baritone and made a reputation for himself not only for the burnished tone of his voice, but the physicality of his performing (as noted in an early Opera News profile).[1]

In December 1995, he made his European debut as Orest in Elektra in a high-profile concert version in Valencia with the soprano Leonie Rysanek.[5] Other notable concert debuts include his Chicago Symphony Orchestra debut at the Ravinia Festival in July 1998 (soloist in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9), and his Carnegie Hall debut singing the Verdi Requiem in May 1999.[citation needed]

The title role in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) has been a career-defining role for Bernstein. He made his Lyric Opera of Chicago debut in the role as a last-minute substitute for Bryn Terfel in 1998, and has sung the opera in several major houses, including at the Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper (his German debut), and the Teatro Maggio Musicale in Firenze (his Italian debut, with Zubin Mehta conducting).[6]

He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in October 1995 as Zuniga in Carmen[7] and has performed over 350 times with the company, including several Live in HD broadcasts (broadcast live into movie theaters internationally). His repertoire with the company includes roles in operas ranging from Tosca and La bohème to Das Rheingold to From the House of the Dead and Wozzeck.[8]

His repertoire in general spans a number of styles and languages, from the bel canto of Rossini (Mustafà in L'italiana in Algeri)[9] to classic French opera (Sancho Panza in Don Quichotte)[10] to 20th-century works such as Benjamin Britten's Albert Herring (Superintendent Budd).[11] He has also sung three of the four lower-voice roles in Mozart's Don Giovanni – Leporello, Masetto, and the title character[12] – including one memorable concert version performed in Bellingham, WA, where he performed both Leporello and Masetto in the same evening. The original Masetto cancelled at the last minute due to illness; Bernstein, scheduled to sing Leporello, volunteered to sing both roles, which he did without a score and semi-staged.[13]

Other roles, past and present, include: Daland in Der fliegende Holländer,[14] Méphistophélès in both Gounod's Faust and Berlioz's La damnation de Faust;[15] Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin, Colline in La bohème;[16] Escamillo in Carmen;[17] Alidoro in La Cenerentola;[18] Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor; the Four Villains and Crespel in Les contes d'Hoffmann; Don Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia; Ferrando in Il trovatore; and Banquo in Macbeth.[19]

Among the opera companies, orchestras, and festivals with which he has sung are: Seattle Opera, Ravinia Festival, Théâtre du Capitole (Toulouse), Opera Company of Philadelphia, Tanglewood Festival, Boston Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, San Diego Opera, Vancouver Opera, and Deutsche Oper Berlin.[citation needed]

Contemporary American repertoire[edit]

Contemporary American opera has played a significant role in Bernstein's career, which includes two world premieres. At Dallas Opera in the 2001–02 season, he created the role of Laurent, the lover (and murder accomplice) of the title character in Thérèse Raquin by Tobias Picker.[20] In 2002–03, Bernstein was featured as Marco in the Metropolitan Opera premiere of William Bolcom's A View From the Bridge,[21] a role he reprised for Washington Opera in 2007–08.[22]

Next, he created the role of determined prosecutor Orville Mason in Picker's An American Tragedy (based on the Theodore Dreiser novel), which had its world premiere at the Metropolitan Opera in the 2006–07 season.[23] He assumed the role of Lord Krishna in the Met Opera premiere of Philip Glass's opera Satyagraha – a performance he recreated for the Met's Live in HD international broadcast in 2011.[24] Other modern American roles include Frank Maurrant and Olin Blitch from the classic American repertoire pieces Street Scene and Susannah, respectively.[25]


DVD appearances[edit]

  • Bello in La fanciulla del West with the Metropolitan Opera (Deutsche Grammophon)
  • Pietro in Simon Boccanegra with the Metropolitan Opera (Sony)
  • 2nd Soldier in Salome with the Metropolitan Opera (Sony)
  • Captain in Manon Lescaut with the Metropolitan Opera (EMI)
  • Zaretski in Eugene Onegin a Grammy-nominated recording (2009, Best Opera Recording) (Decca)[26]
  • A Murderer in Macbeth with the Metropolitan Opera (Deutsche Grammophon)

Audio recordings[edit]

  • Laurent in Tobias Pickers's Thérèse Raquin on Chandos Records
  • Bass Soloist on John Axelrod's How do I love Thee on Marquis Music label

Personal life[edit]

Bernstein is married and lives in New Jersey with his wife and children. His sister is the actress Didi Conn.


  1. ^ a b Gregory Downer, "Sound Bites", Opera News, November 1998, p. 14.
  2. ^ Artist: Richard Bernstein (bass) – Metropolitan Opera roster, [1],; accessed June 27, 2017.
  3. ^ Alan Rich, Le Nozze di Figaro, Daily Variety (January 18, 2001) posted online January 17, 2001, accessed October 10, 2012
  4. ^ Gregory Downer, "Sound Bites", Opera News, November 1998, p. 14
  5. ^ Ventura Melia, "Un elenco de estrellas protagoniza la primera audición de Elektra en Valencia" (A team of stars leads the first hearing of Elektra in Valencia), Levante El Mercantil Valenciano (Diciembre 16, 1995) (December 16, 1995)
  6. ^ John von Rhein, "Figaro Forever", Chicago Tribune (February 13, 1998); Paul Griffiths, Music Review: "The Essence of Figaro: It's Young, It's Ensemble", The New York Times (December 21, 1999).
  7. ^ "Denyce Graves in Carmen, Her Met Debut" by Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times (October 9, 1995).
  8. ^ (Met performance history website), accessed October 17, 2012 (Keyword search: Richard Bernstein, October 7, 1995 to current date)
  9. ^ Glenn Griffin, "Splendid Algeri an omen for year", Denver Post (July 2, 2003).
  10. ^ Sumi Hahn, "Don Quixote makes for a gratifying night at Seattle Opera", The Seattle Times (February 28, 2011).
  11. ^ Karen Weinstein, "Albert Herring Review", L.A. Opera, accessed October 9, 2012.
  12. ^ Susan Bliss, "Bernstein Lights Up Don Giovanni" Los Angeles Times (March 18, 1997)
  13. ^ Jack Frymire "Heroics, real and acted, abounded in Don Juan", Bellingham Herald (August 17, 2004).
  14. ^ The Flying Dutchman – a Princeton Festival production – Reviewed by Tobias Grace for Out in Jersey magazine,
  15. ^ David Patrick Stearns, "Faust with devil as robber baron More rehearsal might have turned OCP's middling success into triumph", Philadelphia Inquirer (October 12, 2004).
  16. ^ Anne Midgette, "Opera Review; Puccini Neat (Unmiked)", The New York Times, (February 22, 2003).
  17. ^ Barbara Zuck, "Carmen, while not brilliant, comes off as solid performance", The Columbus Dispatch (November 22, 1996)
  18. ^ Daniel Cariaga, "Merriment Abounds in Rossini's Cenerentola", Los Angeles Times (October 11, 2000)
  19. ^ "Un hermoso cuento", El Diario Vasco (review of Il barbiere de Siviglia in Pamplona, Spain) Profile,; accessed October 11, 2012.
  20. ^ Anthony Tommasini, "Did Hubby Really Have to Go? He's Such a Nice Guy", The New York Times (December 11, 2001)
  21. ^ Anthony Tommasini, "Dreiser's Chilling Tale of Ambition and Its Price", The New York Times (December 5, 2005)
  22. ^ Anthony Tommasini, "Musical Diversity for Arthur Miller's Fated Red Hook", The New York Times (December 7, 2002)
  23. ^ Tim Page, "A Stunning, Though Bleak, View From the Bridge", Washington Post (November 5, 2007).
  24. ^ Program for Saturday, November 19, 2011 performance of Philip Glass's Satyagraha, Metropolitan Opera (Live in HD broadcast),accessed October 17, 2012
  25. ^ "Chautauqua Opera: Street Scene", accessed October 9, 2012
  26. ^ Classical Music: "2009 Grammy Nominations for Classical Music" by Aaron Green,accessed October 9, 2012

External links[edit]