The American bass-baritone, Herbert Perrry, was born and spent his early years in Nashville, where every third person is a musician or claims to be one. His mother was a pianist, his father a tenor. His grandfather was the head of the music department at Tennessee State University. “His name was Herbert Franklin Mells, and he was one of the first blacks to earn a Ph.D.,'' says Perry in an interview in 1996. “I never met him, but he had set a standard for us.'' Perry studied at the Houston Grand Opera Studio in 1982-1983.
Herbert Perry is an internationally acclaimed artist who has appeared in major roles with leading opera companies throughout the world, including the Metropolitan Opera (title role in Le Nozze di Figaro, Leporello and Masetto in Don Giovanni, Colline in La Bohème and Angelotti in Tosca), Lyric Opera of Chicago (Giorgio Walton in I Puritani), Houston Grand Opera, The Washington Opera, New York City Opera (Escamillo in Carmen, Leporello), the Santa Fe Opera, Vancouver Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Connecticut Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Opera Pacific, Orlando Opera, and Santa Fe Opera in the USA. In Canada, he has appeared with the Canadian Opera Company, Edmonton Opera and Vancouver Opera. In Europe, he has appeared with Opera de Lyon, Opera de Nice, Montpellier (Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress), Staatstheater Stuttgart, Teatro Real (Madrid, Spain), Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania, Italy (Leporello) and the Salzburg Festival (Tiresias in Oedipus Rex), to name a few.
On the concert stage, Herbert Perry has been heard with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Chautauqua Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, Southwest Florida Symphony, Texas Chamber Orchestra, and Tucson Symphony. Notable conductors with whom he has worked include James Levine, Seiji Ozawa, Christoph Eschenbach, Gunther Schuller, Sergiu Comissiona, Michael Tilson Thomas, Christopher Hogwood, and Leonard Slatkin. He is also a frequent guest artist with many North American music festivals, including the Tanglewood Festival, Cincinnati May Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, Chautauqua Festival and Minnesota Orchestra Summerfest.
During the past three seasons, Herbert Perry has collaborated extensively with Philip Glass and Robert Wilson as the officer in Philip Glass’ In the Penal Colony at the Classic Stage Company in New York City, as Vasco da Gama in Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s opera, White Raven at the New York State Theater, In the Penal Colony in Seattle and Chicago.
His performance with Teresa Stratas in Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins at the Opera de Lyon is available on compact disc and video from EMI. Herbert Perry made his national television debut as Balthazar in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, which was directed by the composer and telecast live during thes 1984 Kennedy Center Honors ceremony.