The American baritone (also tenor) and voice teacher, Richard Byrne, earned his Bachelors of Music degree and Performer’s Certificates in both Opera and Voice from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester. He was an Apprentice Artist at Wolf Trap Opera and a Vocal Chamber Music Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival where he sang the role of Christus in 1983 J.S. Bach’s Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244) under the baton of Fiora Contino as the winner of The Concerto Competition. A past Musical America Young Artist of the Year, he was the recipient of several William Mattheus Sullivan Foundation grants, an Opera Index Award and was a Metropolitan Opera National Council National Finalist.
Richard Byrne sang for 7 seasons at the Met: In 1992, he debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in the role of Yamadori in Madama Butterfly. During 6 subsequent seasons at the Met, he was involved in over a dozen productions singing roles such as Ned Keene in Peter Grimes and Schaunard in La Boheme while also having first cover responsibilities for roles including Figaro in The Ghosts of Versailles and Olivier in Capriccio and several others.
Richard Byrne sang for 14 seasons at New York City Opera: He debuted there in the role of Marullo in a production of Rigoletto broadcast on the PBS series “Live from Lincoln Center”. He was subsequently re-engaged to sing 13 seasons with that company, singing over 250 performances of 28 different roles including Taddeo in L’italiana in Algeri, Malatesta in Don Pasquale, Ping in Turandot, Peter Niles in Mourning Becomes Electra, Ramiro in L’heure Espagnole, and The Businessman in The Little Prince.
Richard Byrne sang all over North America: He performed the role of Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with San Diego Opera, Central City Opera and Austin Lyric Opera; Hoffman in Les Contes d’Hoffman with San Francisco Lyric Opera; Guglielmo in Così Fan Tutte with Washington Opera, Hawaii Opera Theater and Opera Theatre of St. Louis; Ned Keene in Peter Grimes with Santa Fe Opera and the Canadian Opera Company; Belcore in L’Elisir d’Amore with Dallas Opera; Svatopluk Čech in The Excursions Of Mr. Brouček at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston; Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress and Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro with Minnesota Opera; Belcore in L’Elisir d’Amore and Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus with Opera Festival of New Jersey; Papageno in Die Zauberflöte with Utah Opera, and Silvio in I Pagliacci with New Orleans Opera.
Richard Byrne sang all over the world: He made his European debut in 1995 singing Gabriel von Eisenstein in La Chauvre Souris with L’Opéra de Nice. Following this he was re-engaged there for two other leading roles: Malatesta in Don Pasquale and Olivier in Capriccio. Also, he was engaged by many European opera houses for projects such as Silvio in I Pagliacci, Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette (a production which was filmed and telecast throughout Europe), and Ferdinand in The Betrothal in a Monastery with Le Grande Théâtre de Genève; Marcello in La Bohème with Opéra Marseille; Ned Keene in Peter Grimes with Le Théâtre du Capitôle in Toulouse; Dandini in La Cenerentola, Marcello in La Bohème, the Baritone Soloist in Carmina Burana and the German language premiere of Péter Eötvös’ Drei Schwestern at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf. He sang 18 performances of the role of Nick Shadow in a new German-language translation of The Rake’s Progress in Vienna with the Wiener Kammeroper. He appeared as Ford in Falstaff with Opera Ireland, Dandini in La Cenerentola with Manitoba Opera, Ping in Turandot at the Gala Opening of the Hong Kong Arts Centre and Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette at the Teatro Municipal in Santiago, Chile.
Richard Byrne sang concerts and recitals (and he sang on a Grammy-winning recording conducted by Sir Georg Solti): He sang Ned Keene in Peter Grimes with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Colin Davis, the Gabriel Fauré's Requiem in a concert with the Westminster Choir at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston and the Buffalo Philharmonic, Ulrich Eislinger in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Georg Solti, J.S. Bach’s Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244) with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Carmina Burana at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein and the Chatauqua Symphony, Messiah with the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space Series at Saint Ignatius Loyala Church in New York City, and a concert of Mozart arias and ensembles with the Tokyo City Symphony. He sang recitals in Toulouse, Geneva, Düsseldorf and Bratislava. The Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg performances with Sir Georg Solti were recorded on London/Decca Records and won the Grammy for Best Opera Recording in 1997. He recorded the role of The Policeman in Anthony Davis’ opera X and a critically-acclaimed CD of Massenet mélodies for Opus Records.
Richard Byrne sang music theater and operetta: At City Opera HE performed Ciccio in The Most Happy Fella, Harry Beaton in Brigadoon, and Mr. Lundquist in A Little Night Music. He also sang the leading role of Robert Mission in The New Moon at Central City Opera, Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus at The Opera Festival of New Jersey, Opera Theater of Rochester and in Nice, France and the Street Singer in The Threepenny Opera at Rochester Opera.
Richard Byrne sang contemporary music: Among many performances of music by contemporary composers, he sang the role of The Stage Manager in the West Coast premiere of Ned Rorem’s Our Town with Festival Opera in Walnut Creek, California (2007), the role of Trolius in Alice Shield’s opera Crisyede with The American Virtuosi Opera Theater at Elebash Hall in New York (2008), and the Young Jim Thompson in Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied with the Center for Contemporary Opera (2007). He has championed the music of Gerald Busby, singing two concerts of his music in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall with the composer at the piano. G. Busby’s The Beard Songs were subsequently recorded as part of a Yale University retrospective of the work of the multi-disciplinary artist Mark Beard in 2007.