Robinson, nicknamed “Massive” during his run as a two-time
All-American offensive lineman at The Citadel, has made a successful transition
to an opera career; Robinson is now one of the most pursued bass performers of
“I don’t think music and athletics are so far apart,” Robinson said. “It
takes a lot of intestinal fortitude, a certain resilience that you learn in
sports and in life.”
Currently, Robinson is performing in the Florida Grand Opera’s
production of Don Giovanni, which opens April 16th in Miami.
Robinson plays the role of the Commendatore, the father of Donna Anna, who
is killed by Don Giovanni in Act I but then returns in Act II as a ghost to
drag Don Giovanni to hell.
Characterized by his commanding stage presence and a booming bass to match,
Robinson is well suited for the part, serving as the first and only
Commendatore to date in the John Pascoe production seen previously in the
Washington National Opera and Dallas Opera. Robinson has conquered the
difficult role both musically and physically.
In Act I the role calls for Robinson to underplay what he was naturally
blessed with, a strong powerful voice. As the Commentador dies and is holding
on to his last breath his voice is called to be performed chopping and
monotonous, traits opera performers are trained not to do.
His masterful voice takes full charge of Act II. As the Commendatore’s
spirit Robinson must transform into the most powerful and dominant voice on the
stage, taking over the scene, which he does with a truly powerful finesse.
Don Giovanni is famous for its fight scenes, which also add a
physical challenge, as the actors have to sing following tiring duels, such as
that between the Commendatore and Don Giovanni himself. This is where Robinson
draws his experience as an athlete, noting that training for both are one in
“Being a former athlete, training for football involves certain
exercises that require physical agility,” Robinson explains, comparing
his former football practices to strenuous fight choreography and voice
When Robinson graduated from The Citadel, he had his sights set on the
corporate world and moved to Boston to pursue his goals. However, upon arrival
Robinson signed up for singing classes at the New England Conservatory and
ended up diving head first into the opera scene. It didn’t take long for
his bass voice to be heard by the director of Boston University’s music
school. Captivated by his unique voice, she advised Robinson that he should
definitely consider making opera his career.
Robinson immediately auditioned at the Boston University Opera Institute,
won a full scholarship and has never looked back. He has gone on to complete
the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and it was
there that Robinson made his stage debut in Fidelio.
Robinson has since performed in numerous other productions at the Met,
including The Magic Flute, Aida, Les Troyens and
Salome. He has also worked with multiple opera companies, including
the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Seattle Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, and the
Wolf Trap Opera.
image_description=Morris Robinson [Photo by Lisa Kohler]
product_title=Morris Robinson commands Don Giovanni
product_by=By Liana Cole
product_id=Above: Morris Robinson [Photo by Lisa Kohler]