There’s nothing quite like the human voice. Musical instruments can create a unique tone, but a person’s vocal chords not only deliver notes but also a slice of their personality. The human voice is integral to our identity. And so, it’s even more impressive to hear someone like Robert Breault, whose delivery can carry the dramatic arc of an opera.
Opera News described Breault’s voice as such: “Besides a ductile tenor that allows him to negotiate a full dynamic span, from silvery head tone to ringing forte, even within a single phrase, Breault offers truly superb diction.”
Professor of Music and Director of Opera at the University of Utah, Breault has been blessed with time off to travel and perform in operatic productions, and his credits are some of the most impressive companies in the world, spanning the entire operatic repertoire.
His performances on the concert stage include Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9” with the Atlanta Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Florida Orchestra, Utah Symphony, and the Cleveland Orchestra; “Plump Jack” with the Puerto Rico Symphony and London Philharmonic Orchestra; and Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion,” “B Minor Mass” and Haydn’s “Creation” all with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He has performed Handel’s “Messiah” with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony, University Musical Society (Ann Arbor), the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra under Nicolas McGegan, the Colorado Symphony, Edmonton Symphony, Eugene Concert Choir, and with the St. Louis Symphony.
His performances of Verdi’s “Requiem” include appearances at the Elora Festival, Florida Philharmonic, and with the Tucson Symphony. His appearances as the roasted swan in Orff’s “Carmina Burana” have elated audiences in performances with the Pacific Symphony, Utah Symphony, Elora Festival, California Symphony, Baltimore Choral Arts, Conspirare (TX) and the Houston Masterwork Chorus. He has sung Haydn’s “Creation” with the Winter Park Bach Festival, Weill’s “Seven Deadly Sins” with the Utah Symphony and Opera, and Gounod’s “Missa Solennelle” with the Vancouver Bach Choir.
Breault has also performed with Montreal Symphony, American Bach Soloists, Oregon Bach Festival, Madison Symphony, Washington’s National Symphony, Lansing Symphony, L’Orchestre Métropolitan du Grand Montréal, the Hamilton Philharmonic and Toronto Symphony. Engagements at New York’s Carnegie Hall include the role of Argirio in Rossini’s “Tancredi” with the Opera Orchestra of New York, as well as performances of Rossini’s “Armida,” Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde,” “Messiah,” Mendelssohn’s Second Symphony, and Mozart’s “Requiem.” Performances with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra under Nicholas McGegan for Handel’s “Messiah,” “Hercules,” and “Solomon,” and no less than the role of Christ in Beethoven’s “Christus am Olberg.”
Several years ago, Breault served as a judge for local tryouts for American Idol, and was less than impressed by the entrants. His tenet is the old adage, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” Originally from Michigan, he’s a vociferous Green Bay Packer fan, worries about contracting a Utah accent from over a decade living here, and musically could have almaost come up with any kind of wild card on his iPod, from Carmen to Captain Beefheart, as he explains that his musical tastes include “anything good.”
He begins, “An apologia of sorts to start. I am an opera singer. I sing for a living, I teach singing, and I don’t keep two iTunes libraries. The majority of my library is devoted to pieces I’ve worked on—or, is it?”
iPod picks by Robert Breault
|Pavarotti, “Rigoletto,” Pavarotti Forever
This is from Verdi’s opera, Questa o Quella. I just sang my first “Duke,” a role he did many times and much better than I ever could or will! This is a piece I have to study, and, when I am not working on the opera, I still listen to it to be inspired by what I think was the greatest Italian voice of all time!
|The Beatles, “Martha My Dear,” The White Album
I have always been a Beatles fan. I could sing every song of theirs by heart when I was young, and, still can, I think! “Martha My Dear” was one of my favorites . I have just as much respect for those guys now as I did when I first heard them as a little kid.
|Bill Evans Trio, “Autumn Leaves,” Jazz Showcase
Amazing piece, amazing trio. I listen to a lot of jazz when I’m alone and on the road. Evans has the ability to transport me to wonderful places of playful imagination. This happens to be one of my favorites by him. It’s not surprising that it came up; there’s a lot of Bill Evans in my library. Since my wife doesn’t like this kind of music too much, I spend a lot of solitary time with Bill!
|Eva Cassidy “I Know You By Heart,” Songbird
I’m a huge fan of Eva. Sadly, she passed, and, sadly, I wonder if we’d know of her had she not! I remember hearing the NPR story where they introduced her music, and, when I learned that she had died, I literally cried. I cry a little every time I hear this song. Amazing power!
|Robert Breault, “Ich finde dich in allen diesen Dingen”
This is me singing a recital piece written by Jeffrey Price, a local composer who is also my “partner in crime” at the university. The text, by Rilke (from his StundenBuch); the music, beyond exquisite. It’s one of my favorite pieces to sing, and it was written for me. It literally means, “I find you in all these little things.” I think Rilke is amazing—and iPods, too.