American tenor Victor Ryan Robertson encompasses a versatile singing ability and style allowing him to cross between genres from classical and contemporary classical repertoire to pop and broadway. His voice is fresh, his personality alive.

He debuted at the Royal Albert Hall in London as Rodolfo in Francesca Zambello’s production of La Bohème to wide acclaim. The Guardian said he “offers an appealing, well-defined tenor with plenty of energy.” The Independent praised his “dashing Rodolfo…he delivers body and soul.” In addition, Mr. Robertson received critical acclaim as Rodolfo in Baz Luhrman’s adaptation of Puccini’s La Bohème at The Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles to a record 82 consecutive sold-out shows.

Recent engagements include Mr. Robertson starring in the world première of Terence Blanchard’s Champion, creating the role of Benny Paret/Benny Paret Jr. in a landmark production with Opera Theatre St. Louis. He also performed Le Capitaine and Prince Ragotski in Candide with Opéra national de Lorraine in Nancy, France; Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi with Opera Carolina; and performed 3 Mo Tenors in concert in Los Angeles, the Dominican Republic, and Houston. He also performed the role of Zoogy in Carly Simon’s ambitious contemporary opera Romulus Hunt at Nashville Opera, Nadir in Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles with Dayton Opera, and Alfredo in La traviata in concert with Atlanta Opera.

Widely noted for the portrayal of Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, he has performed the role with the Minnesota Opera, Opera Carolina, Michigan Opera Theatre, Manitoba Opera, PORT Opera, and Arizona Opera. Another signature role in his repertoire is Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess, a role he has performedwith the Los Angeles Opera, Syracuse Opera, Dallas Opera, at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, throughout Australia, and on tour in London, Edinburgh, and Cardiff with the Cape Town Opera.

In past seasons he has performed a concert tour with Opera Express in Shanghai and with the Honolulu Symphony, and a Pavarotti Tribute concert with the Sunshine Pops.

Other engagements have included Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with Opera Carolina, Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess with Dallas Opera, Prunier in La Rondine with Michigan Opera Theatre, and off-broadway performances of 3 Mo’ Tenors in New York City.

Additional recent engagements include his debut with Dallas Opera in title role performances in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Tybalt in Roméo et Juliette with Spoleto Festival U.S.A., Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, and his debut as Alfredo in La Traviata in New York. Since his operatic debut as Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore with Tri-Cities Opera, he has returned to the company to perform The Duke in Rigoletto, Tonio in La Fille du Régiment, Rodolfo in La Bohème, Kasper in Amahl and the Night Visitors, and Ferrando in Così fan tutte, which critics praised for his “touching and note-perfect beauty.”

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Luiz Gazzola – Dear Vic, this is our third interview with you! I look forward to seeing you again!

Victor Ryan Robertson – Luiz! So great hearing from you again. Such a wonderful welcoming the past three times I’ve come to N.C. to perform!

LG – Your certainly deserve the welcome! The last Opera Lively interview with you was almost three years ago, after you didIl Trittico here at Opera Carolina, and it was quite extensive. What was noteworthy in your career and/or life in the last three years, and why?

VRR – They say the most important show to an artist is the one he’s currently doing but The most noteworthy show I’ve done the past three years would be Champion by Terrence Blanchard by far. It debuted at Opera Theatre of St Lous and was revived in San Francisco this past February. It’s already become the most reviewed American Opera. It is the true story of champion boxer Emile Griffith and his battle again homophobia in and outside the ring. Terrence is well know for his solo work as a Jazz King and for many soundtracks of movies we’ve all heard. Another noteworthy opera would be Romulus Huntby Carly Simon. Many wouldn’t think of her as a composer of anything classical but she really has a gift for it and it was wonderful collaborating on her vision of where the piece is going. There will be a Fall release of the album worldwide.

LG – Nice, I’ll make sure I get a copy! You once told us that your first Count Almavivas in the beginning of your career were a bit bombastic, but your later ones were more restrained, with more refined elegance. How have you been thinking about the role, lately? What is your recipe for a great Count Almaviva, both in acting and singing?

VRR – Count Almaviva has been a musical journey to say the least. I liken him to bickram yoga. It’s never easy. No matter how many times you do it, it’s still over 110 degrees and the body cannot deny that. I will say though, this production by Bernard Uzan gave me a few more ideas that have actually allowed me to sing it the best of my career by far. I have a new freedom with Almaviva that was never there before. I now make it clear to the audience who he is, who his disguise as a poor student is and finally his actual disguises as a soldier and music teacher. None of those characters bleed into one another and that allows me to commit 100% to each.

LG – Arguably the two most beautiful arias for your character are “Ecco ridente” and “Se il mio nome.” How do you compare the two of them, and what do you feel while you are singing them?

VRR – “Ecco ridente” is tricky in that so many tenors have done it. It’s like trying to reinvent “Il mio tesoro” from Don Giovanni. I know for sure now I’m singing it to its absolute maximum. It’s extremely efficient with added coloratura in all the right places. I’ve never been happier with it. As for “Se il mio nome” that is an aria that is so exposed (accompanied with only a guitar), I immediately know how well I’m focused for the night as to how well it goes. By “well” I don’t mean my silly voice, but intention, conveying the Count’s fears and dreams but also with a touch of wink and a smile. It sets the tone for my character far more than the famous “Ecco ridente”.

LG – When an opera like The Barber has been given so many times, there is a challenge for the entire cast and crew: how to make it memorable and unique. Please tell us what our public can expect from this particular production at Opera Carolina.

VRR – I’ve done Barber so many times in so many houses but this is by far the BEST production ever. In fact I believe it should be seen mainly because of this reason. Rarely you get every role done to near perfection all in one cast. This is it. Bernard Uzan truly brings the perfect blend of farce and romance but it also takes a talented cast to deliver.

LG – Wow! I can’t wait. Rossini’s Almaviva is young and idealistic, while Mozart’s Almaviva is somewhat bitter. Of course Mozart’s is not a tenor role, but you’ve read the plays by Beaumarchais and you’ve seen Mozart’s opera. How do you explain the psychological arc of the character across the two operas?

VRR – It is true that the lovesick Almaviva in Rossini’s opera compared to the bored, unhappy lord of the manor in Mozart’s are so diametrically opposed but they show the quick arc of a character who quickly tempers and is wildly out of control in romance and temperament. I try not to get too attached to the books or plays from which they originate anymore because operas are now done in such different settings. For example I just did a Barber production that was set in the 70’s. The 1970’s. There is almost nothing in the Beaumarchais novel that can help me capture the Count as a mafioso that runs a hotel. You work with what’s given and go from there.

LG – Interesting. We talked about “Three Mo’ Tenors” before. Now you have a new project, “World Tenors Unleashed,” produced by the same creators. Please describe this new adventure for us.

VRR – “World Tenors Unleashed” was conceived by Marion Caffey in 2015 and we work-shopped it last year. I’m not sure of its future but the process was outstanding. Singers from amazing Broadway shows and operas were on board to perform seven cultures blended as one.