Robert Hale has walked among kings, rubbed shoulders with aristocrats, helmed phantom sea vessels and struck some devilish deals during his distinguished career as an operatic bass-baritone. A frequent guest at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Milan’s La Scala, London’s Royal Opera and Vienna’s State Opera, Hale attributes much of his success to his early training at Southern Nazarene University and the University of Oklahoma.
This week, Hale will return to Oklahoma to perform a benefit recital at 7:30 p.m. Friday in SNU’s Cantrell Recital Hall, 6729 NW 39. Hale will be joined by coloratura soprano Julie Davis in a program of operatic arias, Broadway show tunes and sacred selections. Proceeds will benefit the Mr. & Mrs. John Hale Memorial Voice Scholarship and the Robert Hale Strings Scholarship programs at SNU.
In a career that has spanned more than 40 years, Hale has performed many of opera’s greatest figures, from Barak ("Die Frau Ohne Schatten”) and Mephistopheles ("Faust”) to Scarpia ("Tosca”) and Jochanaan ("Salome”). But his greatest successes have been in the music of Richard Wagner, most notably as Wotan in "Der Ring des Nibelungen” and the title character in "The Flying Dutchman.”
"Mr. Hale, a former York City Opera stalwart, made a fine impression (as the Dutchman),” The New York Times’ John Rockwell wrote of Hale’s Metropolitan Opera debut in December 1990. "Hale ... sang and acted with dramatic fire, and even looked the part of this spectral wanderer.”
After completing his master’s degree at OU, Hale continued his studies with Boris Goldovsky in New York and soon made a name for himself at City Opera. The company’s focus throughout much of the 1960s was the neglected bel canto operas of Donizetti, Rossini and Bellini.
"Beverly Sills was doing all these bel canto revivals at the time, and I was fortunate to be cast in a lot of them,” Hale said.