The New York Times
A Metropolitan Opera company member since his debut in 1995, GRAMMY® Award winning bass Richard Bernstein has appeared with the MET in 474 performances and over 125 international live broadcasts to date, which also include 19 Live in HD performances broadcast in cinemas worldwide. He has also sung leading roles with companies around the country and around the world during his 30-year career.
“The dynamic, robust-voiced bass, Richard Bernstein, brought more danger and volatility to the role of Leporello...
Mr. Bernstein has been thrilled to rejoin his Metropolitan Opera family on its reopening for the 2021-22 season, following the unprecedented cancellation of the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19. This fall, he performed in two productions: as Nikitich in Boris Godunov (broadcast Live in HD) and in his role debut as Foltz in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. He continues the 2021-22 season at the Met with performances of Zaretsky in Eugene Onegin, the Old Servant in Elektra and a return to the role of Aye in the sensational Met production of Akhnaten. To conclude his 2021-22 season, Mr. Bernstein will make his debut with Opera Maine as Daland in Der fliegende Holländer in July.
He looks forward to the recently-announced 2022-23 Met Opera season, which finds him singing in three Live in HD telecasts – Fedora, Falstaff, and Die Zauberflöte – as well as performing in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Dialogues des Carmélites, and covering roles in Idomeneo, Peter Grimes, Don Carlo, Aida, Tosca and Der Fliegende Holländer (Daland).
In 2019-20, Mr. Bernstein celebrated his silver anniversary with the Met, his artistic home. Highlights of the season included the Met premiere and sold-out run of Akhnaten by Philip Glass in which he performed the role of Aye to great critical acclaim. The production was also broadcast around the world as part of the Met’s Live in HD series and was awarded the 2022 GRAMMY® Award for Best Opera Recording. In addition, Mr. Bernstein sang in Macbeth, Wozzeck and Die Zauberflöte during this milestone season for him with the company.
The 2018-19 season featured many notable performances for Mr. Bernstein at The Metropolitan Opera. Highlights include his role debut as Pistola in Falstaff, along with roles in Carmen, La fanciulla del West, and Dialogues des Carmélites. Rounding out the season, Mr. Bernstein performed at the prestigious Bravo! Vail Festival, where he sang Angelotti in Tosca with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Other key recent performances include the bass soloist part in Beethoven’s magisterial Ninth Symphony with the New Jersey Choral Society and a return to his touchstone role of Leporello in Don Giovanni at Chautauqua Opera.
Mr. Bernstein’s versatility is displayed in the diverse mix of repertoire he has performed and covered over the years with the Metropolitan Opera, running the gamut from classic operas to contemporary works, in languages as varied as Czech, French, German, Italian, Sanskrit, Russian, and English. These include roles in Faust, Satyagraha, Das Rheingold, Siegfried, La bohème, Simon Boccanegra, Die Zauberflöte, Tosca, Hamlet, From the House of the Dead, Armida, Ariadne auf Naxos, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Ernani, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, War and Peace, Macbeth, A View From the Bridge, and Wozzeck.
Mr. Bernstein has also performed leading roles around the country and abroad. In particular, he has performed his signature roles of Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro) and Leporello (Don Giovanni) worldwide. In the 2014-15 season, Mr. Bernstein debuted the role of Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin at Chautauqua Opera. The 2012-13 season saw him garner warm praise for his first leading Wagnerian role: Daland in Der fliegende Holländer at the Princeton Festival. That year also included successful debuts as Tiresias in Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex (Cincinnati May Festival) and Herod in Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ (at Carnegie Hall). In 2011-12, he returned to LA Opera – the company of his operatic debut – to sing Superintendent Budd in Albert Herring under Maestro James Conlon’s baton.
Other notable roles include Mephistopheles in Faust, Colline (La bohème), Sancho Panza in Don Quichotte, Mustafà (L’italiana in Algeri), Olin Blitch in Susannah, Frank Maurrant (Street Scene), Orest in Elektra, Alidoro (La Cenerentola), and Raimondo (Lucia di Lammermoor) for companies such as Seattle Opera, the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Central City Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Opera Pacific, the KlangBogen Festival in Vienna, Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse, and the Savonlinna Festival in Finland.
"With his strong, effortless bass, he can also be extremely entertaining. The man is a born comedian..."
- Riitta-Leena Lempinen, Itä-savo
Mr. Bernstein’s repertoire boasts a number of contemporary American works. He created roles in two world premieres by composer Tobias Picker: Orville Mason in An American Tragedy at the Metropolitan Opera, and Laurent in Thérèse Raquin at Dallas Opera. In addition, he sang the role of Marco in William Bolcom’s A View From the Bridge at both its Metropolitan Opera premiere in 2002-03 and at Washington Opera in 2007-08.
On DVD, Mr. Bernstein appears in the Met productions of Akhnaten (which just won the 2022 GRAMMY® Award for Best Opera Recording), Satyagraha, Dialogues des Carmélites, La fanciulla del West (Deutsche Grammophon), Macbeth (Deutsche Grammophon), Simon Boccanegra and Salome (Sony), and Manon Lescaut (EMI) and he also sings Zaretsky in Decca’s Grammy-nominated release of Eugene Onegin (Best Opera Recording, 2009). He can be heard as Laurent on the CD of Tobias Picker’s Thérèse Raquin (Chandos Records).
Additionally, Mr. Bernstein has collaborated with a host of major American symphony orchestras ranging from the New York Philharmonic to the Chicago Symphony to the Philadelphia Orchestra, and has been a guest at many prestigious festivals, including the Lincoln Center, Spoleto, Ravinia, and Tanglewood music festivals. He has had the privilege of working with some of the most important conductors of the day, including: Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Seiji Ozawa, Zubin Mehta, Valery Gergiev, James Conlon, Christoph Eschenbach, Leonard Slatkin, Sir Andrew Davis, Donald Runnicles, Patrick Summers, and Fabio Luisi.
Besides his full performance schedule, Mr. Bernstein enjoys teaching private voice students in New York and New Jersey. He also regularly judges regional and district auditions for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and gives master classes while touring.
Born and raised in New York, Mr. Bernstein is a graduate of the University of Southern California. Upon graduation, he was invited to join the LA Opera’s Resident Artist program in its inaugural season and remained an LA company member for over ten years.