Winning the National Metropolitan Opera Auditions in 1979 led to Robert McFarland’s eight-year, twenty-seven-role career at New York City Opera under the leadership of Beverly Sills. Since that time, Mr. McFarland’s vocal artistry has been showcased in nearly every major opera house in the world in the roles of Rigoletto, Macbeth, Scarpia (Tosca), Tonio (I Pagliacci), Germont (La Traviata), Iago (Otello), Carlo Gerard (Andrea Chenier), The Dutchman, Barnaba (La Gioconda), Blitch (Susannah), Mephistopheles (Faust), Friar Lawrence (Romeo and Juliette), Enrico (Lucia di Lammermoor), Alfio (Cavalleria Rusticana), Riccardo (I Puritani), Sharpless (Madama Butterfly), Four Villains (Les Contes d’Hoffmann), Renato (Un Ballo in Maschera), Rodrigo (Don Carlo), Simon Boccanegra, Il Conte di Luna (Il Trovatore), Frank Maurant (Street Scene), Nabucco, Jochanaan (Salome), George (Of Mice and Men), Jack Rance (La Fanciulla del West), and Don Giovanni.
Other career highlights include Mr. McFarland’s recording of Donizetti’s Maria de Rudenz that was hailed by critics as the new “gem of Donizetti,” his European debut as Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff at the Glyndebourne Festival with conductor Bernard Haitink, his internationally successful performance at the Festival Dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy, where he performed the role of Major Kavalioff in Shostakovich’s The Nose (in the original Russian), and triumphant performances of San Francisco’s production of Andrea Chenier in 1993 as well as Nabucco in 1998. He met with outstanding success in Opera North 2002 production of Tosca (Leeds, UK) and was named “Artist of the Year” for his exceptional portrayal of Scarpia. In 2003, Robert McFarland’s singing and portrayal of the hunchback Rigoletto at the Cleveland Opera was one of his most recent great successes.
Some of the opera companies Robert McFarland has performed with include The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Opera North (U.K.) Opéra de Nice (France), Spoleto Opera Festival, Italy, Deutsche Oper Berlin (Germany), among others. The conductors he has collaborated with include Lorin Mazel, Zubin Mehta, Bernard Haitink, Nello Santi, Julius Rudel, John Nelson, Eduardo Müller, Klaus Weisse, Alberto Erede, James Conlon, Brian Balkwell, Antonio Pappano, Nikolai Rescigno.
Mr. McFarland is frequently engaged for oratorio performances of Elijah, Joshua, Messiah, Verdi’s Requiem, Brahm’s Requiem and modern works such as Penderecki’s Passion of Christ According to St. Luke. He is in constant demand as concert artist throughout the world. Robert McFarland is also a renowned Christian recording artist having received high praise for his two new Christian CD’s, “ Stormy Winds “ and “ Nothing Between “. In these recordings he is accompanied by members of both The Philadelphia Orchestra and The Dallas Symphony.
Along with performing over 114 operas, Robert McFarland has conducted and directed many operas internationally. He also heads his own artists’ management agency at McFarland Artists Management International.
Robert McFarland is the Artistic Director and Founder of The Atlantic Coast Opera Festival, a non-profit international summer opera festival founded in 2005 and based in the greater Philadelphia metro area. It counts such celebrities as Giorgio Tozzi and Plàcido Domingo on its Advisory Board (and till recently the late Beverly Sills) while the Metropolitan Opera National Council, the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Academy of Vocal Arts have all come to lend artistic support and validation to the young company.
The Festival’s main mission is to provide major performance and career opportunities to outstanding young artists, conjunctly creating an international opera venue à la Glyndebourne or Salzburg Festival. The Festival has garnered many supporters and much praise since its creation, and many of its participating artists have gone on to prestigious venues such as the Metropolitan Opera of New York City among others.