The American bass-baritone, Rodney Gilfry, earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Cal State Fullerton and his Master's Degree in Vocal Arts at the University of Southern California; both institutions have singled him out as a “Distinguished Alumnus.” He studied extensively with the late Martial Singher.
Rodney Gilfry was brought to worldwide attention when he created the role of Stanley Kowalski in the 1998 premiere of André Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire with the San Francisco Opera. This production, conducted by the composer, was televised nationwide on PBS; a live recording was released by Deutsche Grammophon and DVD and video versions have subsequently been issued.
Praised by the San Francisco Chronicle for his "rich, rolling baritone with a superb upper range," as well as his "vivid stage presence," Rodney Gilfry has established himself as a most compelling musician on the world's operatic stages, as well as a distinguished recital and concert artist.
In previous seasons, Rodney Gilfry made impressive debuts at: the Metropolitan Opera; the Opéra National de Paris/Bastille; the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; the Glyndebourne Festival; the Dallas, San Francisco and San Diego Operas; and Lyric Opera of Chicago. Concert engagements have included those with the Orchestre de Paris and the Orchestra of La Scala under the direction of such renowned maestros as Carlo Maria Giulini, Pierre Boulez, Christoph Penderecki, and John Eliot Gardiner. He has given numerous critically-acclaimed recitals including those at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall in New York, in San Francisco, Washington, DC, as well as throughout Switzerland and Germany. Gilfry was a featured artist on a nationally televised Kennedy Center Honors and was seen on PBS on the 2001 Richard Tucker Music Foundation’s Silver Anniversary Gala, as well as the previously mentioned PBS telecast of Streetcar.
Rodney Gilfry’s 2001-2002 season also gave ample evidence of his versatility. At the Zürich Opera he performed a quartet of stylistically and linguistically varied roles: Prince Yeletsky in The Queen of Spades; Der Sprecher in Die Zauberflöte, instead of his usual charming Papageno; Oreste in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride (videotaped for commercial release); and Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, his most frequently performed role. He returned to the USA for three engagements in Los Angeles: Joe in Frank Loesser’s The Most Happy Fella with “Reprise! Broadway’s Best;” Count Danilo in The Merry Widow with the Los Angeles Opera, and a cabaret evening blending beloved Broadway gems and popular songs at North Hollywood’s El Portal Center for the Arts. 2002 began at the San Francisco Opera with a repeat of The Merry Widow. Lyric Opera of Chicago was next for La Bohème (Marcello), followed by his second Los Angeles Opera role of the season, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte. The season’s final two operatic forays were a pair of Tchaikovsky operas. For his first engagement at the Washington Opera he sang more Yeletskys, and later returned to Santa Fe Opera for a role debut, the title part in Eugene Onegin. On two occasions during the summer he participated in concerts consisting of lighter fare. At the Ravinia Festival, Rodney Gilfry joined Sylvia McNair, Marilyn Horne, and John Raitt with John Mauceri leading the Chicago Symphony in a gala concert celebrating the Centennial of the birth of composer Richard Rodgers. He and popular songwriter/cabaret performer Amanda McBroom teamed up for “Two for the Road – An Evening of Romanic Song” at Los Angeles’ John Anson Ford Theatre.
Rodney Gilfry’s 2002-2003 season gets underway in September with a Recital at Clayton State College in Morrow, GA where he is accompanied by Armen Guzelimian. The baritone performs Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen. Gilfry travels to the Royal Opera, Covent Garden to create the role of Nathan in Nicholas Maw’s operatic adaptation of William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice.
The New Year finds Rodney Gilfry appearing with the Cleveland Orchestra and Franz Welser-Möst in Vaughn Williams’ Dona nobis pacem. The Dallas Opera is next for one of his most frequently heard portrayals, Don Giovanni. At the Zürich Opera, his European “home” company, he essays the triple roles of Osman, Huascar and Adario for the first time in Rameau’s Les Indes galantes, led by early-music specialist William Christie. With the London Symphony Orchestra, he recreates the role of Stanley Kowalski, reuniting with composer/conductor André Previn for A Streetcar Named Desire. Gilfry’s season comes to a close at Munich’s Bayerische Staatsoper when he reprises the title part in Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse.
On the horizon for the following season is another world premiere in September 2003: Rodney Gilfry created the role of Tsar Nicholas in Deborah Drattell’s Nicholas and Alexandra for the Los Angeles Opera. This will mark his 27th role with the Company that has seen him develop from a fledgling young artist to a fully developed star.
In addition to recordings of Le nozze di Figaro, Così fan tutte, and the title role in Don Giovanni, the latter nominated for a Grammy Award, Rodney Gilfry has recorded the Brahms Requiem and Haydn's Creation all with John Eliot Gardiner for Philips and DG Archiv, respectively. Also committed to disc are Schumann's Genoveva with Nikolaus Harnoncourt for Teldec, Rossini's L'inganno felice for Erato, J.S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) for Orfeo, and Leonard Bernstein's Wonderful Town led by Simon Rattle on EMI. His most recent recordings include Maurice Duruflé’s Messe, “Cum Jubilo” with the Los Angeles Master Chorale on RCM and Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride on Telarc with Martin Pearlman leading the Boston Baroque.
Rodney Gilfry often presents master-classes throughout the country, and regularly donates his time and talent, appearing at benefits for a wide variety of arts-related and educational causes. He also continues to present his weekly radio show “Los Angeles Opera Notes on Air” with co-host Suzanna Guzmán on KMZT, 105.1 FM Los Angeles.
Rodney Gilfry resides in California with his wife and three children.