Robert Strauss has been praised for his sensitive, intelligent interpretation, his attention to musical and textual nuance, and his versatile tenor voice. Since returning to Western New York in 2004, Strauss has become increasingly in demand as a singer, as a teacher, and as a stage director. An avid recitalist, he has presented the programs Chamber Music of Benjamin Britten, Seasons in Song and The Recital That Dare Not Speak Its Name (a program featuring the music of homosexual composers) with Eastman School of Music faculty member Benton Hess. The recital, Inner Voices, featuring music for tenor and mezzo-soprano voices, premiered in North Carolina in 2007. More recently, he presented the revues Finding A Way Back and Ready at Last, including music from the contemporary musical theatre repertoire.
On the stage, he has sung Pedrillo in Die Entführung Aus Dem Serail, Peter Quint (The Turn of the Screw), Jack Point (The Yeoman of the Guard), Archibald Craven (The Secret Garden), Dr. Caius (Falstaff) and minor roles in The Tender Land (Mr. Splinters), La traviata (Gastone), and Tosca (Spoletta), as well as Federico in L’amico Fritz, with the Centro Studi Italiani Opera Festival in Urbania, Italy. His concert performances have included the tenor solos in Messiah, The Creation, St. Nicolas (Britten), Christmas Oratorio (Saint-Saens), The Christmas Story (Schütz), and the Requiems of Pinkham and Mozart. Strauss has also appeared as one of the tenor soloists in Rossini’s Messa di Gloria in the composer’s hometown of Pesaro. He has toured Italy performing opera scenes and arias from the standard Italian operatic literature with the Centro Studi Italiani Opera Festival.
As comfortable behind the production table as he is in front of it, he has directed full productions of Purcell’s Dido And Aeneas, Gilbert & Sullivan’s Trial By Jury, Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, the New York State premiere of Benton Hess’ Felice, as well as The Secret Marriage, The Turn of the Screw, and Così fan tutte, and a retelling of Gilbert & Sullivan’s masterpiece for all-male cast U.S.S. Metaphor. He served as assistant stage director for Mercury Opera Rochester’s production of Il barbiere di Siviglia, directed the inaugural production of Amahl and the Night Visitors for them, and has stage directed productions of Seussical the Musical, and Godspell!
Dr. Strauss also maintains an active profile as a voice teacher and pedagogue. Having studied vocal pedagogy with the late William McIver, he has served on the voice faculties of Guilford College (NC), Radford University (VA), Washington & Jefferson College (PA) and Nazareth College in Rochester. He is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, serving on the Executive Board for the Central New York-Finger Lakes Chapter as Auditions Chair. He holds degrees from SUNY Fredonia, UNC-Greensboro, and earned his Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance and Literature from West Virginia University. Dr. Strauss currently also serves as Artistic Director for the Rochester Gay Men’s Chorus.