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 over 530 performances and over 125 international live broadcasts to date, which also includes 23 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...
A Metropolitan Opera company member since his debut in 1995, GRAMMY® Award-winning bass Richard Bernstein has appeared with the MET in 530 performances and 125 international live broadcasts to date, including 23 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.
Mr. Bernstein continues his long association with the Metropolitan Opera in the 2023-24 season, which is his 28th consecutive season with the company. Richard makes two role debuts as the Bonze in Madama Butterfly and the Duke of Verona in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. Madama Butterfly will be livestreamed on Met Opera Radio and Sirius XM on Jan 24, 2024 and Roméo and Juliette will be broadcast Live in HD on March 23, 2024. Richard will also be covering roles in La rondine, La forza del destino, and Carmen.
The 2022-23 season saw him celebrate his 500th performance at the Met – on New Year’s Eve – as Boroff in Fedora, along with performances of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Dialogues des Carmélites. He concluded the 2022-23 season singing Lodovico in Act III of Verdi’s Otello with Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra at New York’s Carnegie Hall. He then joined the same forces on a European tour (June-July 2023) that kicked off at the Philharmonie de Paris, followed by performances at the Barbican Centre in London and at the Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden, Germany.
Highlights of recent seasons include celebrating his silver anniversary with the Met in 2019-20; role debuts as Pistola in Falstaff and as Foltz in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the Met, along with a return in 2021-22 to the role of Aye in the sensational, Grammy Award-winning Met production of Akhnaten; Tosca at the prestigious Bravo! Vail Festival; the bass soloist part in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the New Jersey Choral Society; a return to his touchstone role of Leporello in Don Giovanni at Chautauqua Opera; and his Opera Maine debut as Daland in Der fliegende Holländer in July 2022.
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 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).
Currently, he can be heard as the bass soloist on American composer David Shire’s contribution to the September 2022 release of The Abrahamic Symphony, commissioned and produced by the Abu Dhabi Festival and recorded earlier this year. Comprising pieces that represent each of the three Abrahamic faiths, the work is the world’s first interfaith symphony, composed by Shire, John Debney and Ihab Darwish.
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.