GRAMMY and Emmy-winning baritone Reginald Smith, Jr., the 2021 U.S. representative at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, has been lauded as a “passionate performer” (The New York Times) with a voice that is “electric, hall-filling” (The Baltimore Sun), “thrillingly dramatic” (Opera News) and “one of the most exciting baritone sounds to come along in years” (Opera News). Smith, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, is a Grand Finals winner of the 2015 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a graduate of the Houston Grand Opera Studio.
In the run-up to his 2023-24 season, Smith makes his Santa Fe Opera debut as Scarpia in Tosca. As the season gets underway, he returns to the Houston Grand Opera to take the title role in Falstaff. Among his other operatic appearances, he will sing the role of Amonasro in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Aida. In concert, he will return as the featured baritone soloist for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas Pops performance, and will take part in a “Morris & Friends” concert alongside operatic bass Morris Robinson in Maryland. He will also perform in recital at Temple University.
During the 2022-23 season, Smith returned to the Houston Grand Opera as Pascoe in Ethel Smyth’s The Wreckers and made his Fort Worth Opera debut as Amonasro in Aida. In concert, he debuted with the San Francisco Symphony in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, and with the Memphis Symphony in Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem. In addition, he returned to the New Jersey Symphony for Fauré’s Requiem and performed as the Grinch in holiday concerts with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra. Smith also took part in a United in Song concert with the American Pops Orchestra, televised nationally on PBS, and appeared in the Richard Tucker Music Foundation’s annual gala in David Geffen Hall. He also performed in recital at Mercer University.
The 2021-2022 season marked Smith’s debuts with the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Uncle Paul in Terrence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones, with the San Diego Opera as Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte, and with Charleston’s Holy City Arts and Lyric Opera as Germont in La Traviata. He scored a personal triumph as Castor in the world premiere of Gregory Spears’ Castor and Patience at the Cincinnati Opera. In concert, he returned to the Dallas Symphony for holiday concerts, debuted with the May Festival and the Oregon Symphony in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, sang Amonasro in Act 3 of Aida with the Atlanta Symphony and performed Messiah with the Nashville Symphony. He also appeared in solo recital at Kennesaw State University.
In the course of his operatic career, Smith has performed with leading companies worldwide. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2019 as Jim in Porgy and Bess, winning a 2021 GRAMMY Award (Best Opera Recording) for the album made from that production. Other highlights include his 2018 Portland Opera debut as Monterone in Rigoletto and his 2017 Dallas Opera debut as Bonzo in Madame Butterfly. He has also appeared with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Opera Hong Kong, Atlanta Opera, New Orleans Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Toledo Opera, Opera Idaho, and Opera Carolina. His credits include role in productions of I Pagliacci (Tonio), Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Don Bartolo), Porgy and Bess (Jake), Madama Butterfly (Sharpless), L’Italiana in Algeri (Taddeo), Fellow Travelers (Senator Charles Potter/General Airlie/Bartender), La Bohème (Marcello), Die Fledermaus (Falke), La Traviata (Giorgio Germont), The Pirates of Penzance (The Pirate King), Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette (Capulet) and Le Nozze di Figaro (Count Almaviva).
In concert, he has performed with the National Chorale at Lincoln Center as well as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, Houston Symphony, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops, Lexington Philharmonic, Columbus Symphony Orchestra (GA), North Carolina Symphony, Johnson City Symphony, Boise Philharmonic,West Virginia Symphony, Symphoria and the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra at Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow. Highlights include performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, Mozart’s Requiem and Coronation Mass, Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, the Fauré and Duruflé Requiems, Schubert’s Mass in G, Schoenberg’s Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte, Handel’s Messiah, and Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette. Alongside the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Dallas-based WFAA-TV, he shared in a Lone Star Regional Emmy Award as the featured soloist in the DSO’s 2018 Christmas Pops concert.
Besides receiving recognition from the Dallas Opera Guild Competition, the Mildred Miller International Vocal Competition, and the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation Vocal Competition, Smith has earned first place in the National Opera Association Competition: Scholarship Division, Orpheus Vocal Competition: Young Artist Division, George London Vocal Competition: Top Prize (George London Award) and Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition: Top Prize. He was also the recipient of a 2015 Sara Tucker Study Grant and a 2016 Career Grant from the William Matheus Sullivan Foundation.
Born in Atlanta, Smith grew up a dedicated choral student from elementary school onward. His formative experiences as a music student inspired him to take a double major in Vocal Performance and Choral Music Education at the University of Kentucky, where he earned degrees in both. While he ultimately chose a performance career, he has channeled his love of teaching into numerous masterclasses, where he is known as a highly knowledgeable and engaging presenter. He returned to his alma mater during the 2017-2018 season for a performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Lexington Singers and the University of Kentucky Chorale. He later returned to the University of Kentucky for a Masters in Vocal Performance, completing the degree in the Spring of 2021.