Late start: During his days growing up, Morris Robinson wasn’t familiar with opera. Now he’s performing in front of sold-out crowds.
Morris Robinson has the kind of bass voice that reverberates even over the telephone. Listening to it during a phone interview, you assume he’s been singing all his life. And he has — but not opera.
But today he’s made quite a name for himself in the world of opera — singing all over the world to appreciative audiences. He’s now preparing for the role of Timur in Opera Philadelphia’s new production of Puccini’s Turandot at the Academy of Music, Sept. 23 to Oct. 2.
In addition, he will sing a solo recital of Mozart, Schubert, Bernstein and more on Sunday, Sept. 18, at 2:30 p.m. at the School of the Future, 4022 Parkside Ave.
Robinson grew up in Atlanta, the son of a baptist minister and a mother who spent a lot of time making sure her children played musical instruments and did well in school.
ldquo;One of my earliest memories of singing was in church,” Robinson remembers. “I got a lot of applause but didn’t take it seriously. To me, singing was just something to do. Nobody thought of it as a viable profession.”
But while in high school, what he did take seriously was his ability to play football. His prowess on the field led to a full football scholarship to the Citadel, the military college in South Carolina. An offensive lineman, he was voted All-American three times but didn’t get a spot with the NFL because, he says with a laugh, “I was too small. Today, I’m opera big but NFL little.”
And so, after graduation, Robinson took a job in corporate sales, doing quite well but missing his music, which he had kept up with. So one day, while working in Boston, he applied to Boston University’s Opera Institute and was accepted with a full scholarship. This meant Robinson might actually become an opera singer — something he knew little about.
ldquo;I didn’t really know what opera was, and growing up I never got to see an opera,” he says. “But all my time in high school, college and even afterward, everyone who heard me sing thought opera might be my true destiny.”
And so it was. His first role with the Boston Lyric Opera was as the king in Aida, a role he performed in Philadelphia in 2005. Still traveling the word, performing at prestigious opera companies, he admits that his favorite opera is the one he’s singing at the moment, although he does favor Aida.
ldquo;It’s like the love you have for your first-born child who holds a special place in your heart. Another would be Turandot. People who don’t know it fall in love with it when they first hear it. And people who do know it are still in love with it.”
Married and the father of one son, Robinson claims that, while opera is extremely important to him, so is his family.
“I have to keep everything in perspective, and continue to be the best husband and father every way I can be.” ••
For times and ticket information, call 215–893–1018 or visit operaphila.org/whats-on/on-stage-2016–2017/turandot