“BARITIONE CHRISTIAAN SMITH SANG ‘TIME AFTER TIME’ FOR ME ONCE,
AND IT WAS NEVER BETTER …I AND HEARD SINATRA SING IT.”– CAROL BURNETT
Celebrated baritone Christiaan Smith will make his Carnegie Hall debut this fall with “Songs We Know,” presented by Trespass Productions, Saturday, November 18 at 8PM in Weill Recital Hall. Tickets, priced at $48 to $78, are available at the Carnegie Hall Box Office, 154 West 57th Street, or can be charged to major credit cards by calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800 or by visiting the Carnegie Hall website, www.CarnegieHall.org.
In “Songs We Know,” Smith explores the popular songs of The Beatles, Adele, John Legend, John Mayer, Ed Sheeran, Simon and Garfunkel, Elvis, and more. Each song is given a fresh interpretation that will make you question the definition of the “art song.” In this program, “Some Enchanted Evening” intertwines with “My Way” to a Schubert-inspired piano accompaniment. With Dr. Casey Robards at the piano, pop iconography merges with musicology in this fresh perspective on American top-40 radio hits from various decades.
“I could not be more excited to make my Carnegie hall debut with this playlist of a program,” says Smith. “I’ve always wanted to bridge the gap between contemporary ‘popular hits’ and the ‘art song’ recitals I did in opera school, so I’ve hand-selected and rearranged some of my favorite pop gems. I want to show listeners that a song does not have to be classical to be a classic.”
As an artist, Smith has never been one for coloring inside the lines. Kicked out of opera conservatory for forming a jazz band with former Miles Davis’ bassist, Smith has gone on to a surprising varied career singing opera in Pavarotti’s hometown in Italy, studying with legendary mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, and sharing the stage with Grammy nominee Frederica von Stade and Tony Award winner Alice Ripley. Smith studies with Lady Gaga’s vocal coach; tackled roles composed by Mozart, Sondheim, and Rossini; serenaded Carol Burnett; and even opened for Barack Obama on the campaign trail.
Most recently, Smith co-wrote his first solo albumto be released later this year, “All The Way,” with British songwriter Chris Eaton. Eaton has written for Janet Jackson, Keith Urban and Amy Grant. The album’s title song will be the first single from the album, available on iTunes, Amazon and all other music platforms starting October 20.
Christiaan has sung on concerts which also featured six-time Grammy Award Nominee Frederica von Stade as well as Tony Award Winners Alice Ripley and Randy Graff. He has performed with NEA Jazz Master Richard Davis. Christiaan’s songwriting was featured when he opened for one of President Obama’s campaign speeches, and he has sung opera across the US and in Italy.
Christiaan was lrecently seen on stage starring as Gaston in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast National Tour. Nick Vadala, at Philly.com says, “Christiaan Smith… stole the show as the eminently hateable Gaston, perfectly executing that mixture of arrogant and delusional that defines the character.” Christiaan recently played Schaunard in La Bohème with Kentucky Opera and Townsend Opera, Joseph DeRocher in Dead Man Walking with the Modern American Music Project, and Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro with Cinnabar Opera. He also sang Dancaïre in Carmen in his second summer at Music Academy of the West, where he worked closely with Marilyn Horne. While there, he also sang Jule Styne’s “Time After Time” for Carol Burnett at the Music Academy’s Cabaret night, which prompted the quote you see at the top of this page. Christiaan recently sang cabaret in the Kansas City Lyric Opera’s World War I cabaret night Over There! directed by Francis Cullinan at the National WWI Museum.
Christiaan has worked closely with the composer Jake Heggie, who invited him to sing on his Composer Salon at Opera America in New York as well as in his Noe Valley Chamber Music concert which also featured Frederica von Stade. Mr. Heggie also asked Christiaan to sing two roles in the workshop of his newest opera, Great Scott, in collaboration with the Dallas Opera. With Madison Opera, Christiaan played Christiano in Un Ballo in Maschera and Mr. Jenks in The Tender Land. He spent two summers as an Ash Lawn Opera Young Artist, singing Papageno in Mozart’s Magic Piccolo, Tommy in The Music Man, and Un Ufficiale in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. He has been a Music Academy of the West Vocal Fellow, a Kentucky Opera Resident Artist, an Ash Lawn Opera Young Artist, a Des Moines Metro Opera Apprentice Artist, and a soloist with the Madison Early Music Festival. He has toured Northeastern Italy singing Marco in Gianni Schicchi with La Musica Lirica.
Christiaan graduated from three world renowned institutions: Indiana University-Bloomington (IU), Boston University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He holds a Master’s degree from IU where he played an agile Papageno in Die Zauberflöte directed by Tomer Zvulun. At IU he studied voice with Timothy Noble and acting with Carol Vaness. With a full-ride scholarship to Boston University’s Opera Institute, he was seen as John Wilkes Booth in Sondheim’s Assassins, Count Robinson in Il matrimonio segreto, Frank in The Postman Always Rings Twice, Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette, and Charlie in Three Decembers. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he played Antonio in Le Nozze di Figaro and Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas. He is the 2010 recipient of the Orpheus Vocal Competition Nora Sands Award, and was a Phyllis Curtin Artist at Boston University.