A baritone of imposing voice and stature, GREGG BAKER (Crown) continues to make an indelible mark on the world of opera theater. Since his opera debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1985, he has performed leading roles at the Vienna Staatsoper, the Arena di Verona, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Hamburg Opera, New Israeli Opera, Stuttgart Opera, Frankfurt Opera, Vancouver Opera, Baden-Baden Opera, Scottish National Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Houston Grand Opera, Greater Miami Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, and the Berkshire Opera.
Recent seasons have held important role debuts for Baker: title roles in Verdi’s Macbeth and Rigoletto. Opera Now said, “As Macbeth, he revealed a real affinity for Verdi, his glowing voice strong and seamless throughout its registers.” And the Philadelphia Inquirer agreed, “Baker’s commanding voice and presence made him a viable Macbeth in a world that had few.” The Times Union of Albany, New York honored his Rigoletto, “In the title role of court jester who is cursed and double cursed, baritone Gregg Baker was a commanding powerhouse.” Baker has appeared as Macbeth with Opera Memphis opposite Marquita Lister, at the Spoleto Festival USA in Anthony Davis’ Amistad as Cinque, at the Cinncinati Pops, sharing the stage with Roberta Laws, on The New Jersey State Opera Gala, and in Detroit’s Michigan Opera production of Danielpour’s Margaret Garner. He was in San Francisco Opera’s production of Porgy and Bess as Crown, staged by Francesca Zambello.
A successful veteran of Broadway and a Laurence Olivier Award nominee, Baker discovered his gift for and love of opera while performing the role of Crown in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. The Metropolitan Opera heard his performance in the Radio City Music Hall production and engaged him immediately for their production of the opera. He has since returned to the Metropolitan Opera in the roles of High Priest in Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila, Amonasro in Verdi’s Aida, Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen, Silvio in Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci, Donner in Wagner’s Das Rheingold, and Belcore in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore.
In addition to his operatic performances, Baker has performed and recorded with the world’s leading orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Danish Symphony, and the Radio Stuttgart Symphony, with such conductors as James Levine, Simon Rattle, Zubin Mehta, André Previn, Lorin Maazel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Sir Roger Norrington, Jesús López-Cobos, Daniel Oren, Erich Kunzel, and the late Anton Guadagno and Robert Shaw. Baker has worked with renowned stage directors Otto Schenk, the late Pierre Ponelle, Nathaniel Merrill, and Franco Zeffirelli.
Other career highlights include a Grammy nomination in 1986, numerous engagements with the Opera Company of Philadelphia – where he has won their public’s heart and is hailed as “the opera crowd’s favorite deep voice” – and repeat appearances in Europe, particularly with Arena di Verona. Recent performances include Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Milwaukee Symphony, Amonasro in Aida with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, and Escamillo in Carmen in both Japan and Rome. Most recently, he performed the role of Renato in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera with the Opera Company of Philadelphia and created the role of Robert in the world premiere of Margaret Garner, a co-production of Michigan Opera Theatre and the Cincinnati Opera. Baker returned to the Opera Company of Philadelphia as Porgy for that company’s production of Porgy and Bess.