ROBERT PARK MITCHELL, author, former opera singer, opera coach, voice teacher, pastor...
Tenor David Britton, retired Teacher and Artist in Residence at Arizona State University, said, … I admired your dogged tenacity and impressive resume … Britton's use of the word "tenacity" inspired the title of a memoir about his singing career, Tales of a Tenacious Tenor. From early childhood, Bob sang, mostly for fun, but also for church and school. Born in Pennsylvania, he grew up in Lock Haven, graduating high school in 1957. But it was 1954 when his mother took him to hear movie tenor Mario Lanza sing in the movie, Student Prince, that his life was changed. That very night he sneaked into the back yard, and with tears streaming down his cheeks, he raised his voice to heaven, "God, I have to sing like that!"
So began his pursuit of learning how to sing "like Mario," beginning with his high school music teacher, who counseled him against pursuing an opera career. Bob spent two years studying music education at Mansfield State Teachers College. The late Jack Wilcox directed the opera workshop, which became Bob's indoctrination to opera. From there he pressed on to the Mannes College of Music in New York City where he honed his talent for the opera stage under the tutelage of Metropolitan Opera baritone, Martial Singher. For the next thirty years Bob sang over forty major roles (see below) with several dozen regional opera companies in the New York metro area as he pursued a full-time career with Scholastic, Inc.
"Bob, an opera that makes me think of you is Les Contes d'Hoffmann. The title role seems to have evoked the best of your singing and acting abilities. Yet this must be a devilishly difficult role. You projected both the idealism and naïveté as well as the heartiness of the character. My favorite aria is: "O dieu de quelle ivresse," which you sang so well. I single out your Hoffmann because you didn't merely perform the role, you inhabited it." --- David Schechter, friend, supporter, and opera aficionado
New York Times: "...Mitchell's sensitively sung Tsar Berendey stood out as the chief pleasure of the evening." (Bel Canto Opera Company)
Brooklyn Spectator: "...Mitchell...Canio...thrilling rendition...'Vesti la giubba'...winning the admiration of the enthusiastic audience." (Regina Opera Company)
Brooklyn Graphic Week: "Pollione...Mitchell...act one aria...tour de force...solid voice, dramatic, but able to sing sweetly when called upon to do so." (Regina Opera Company)
Poughkeepsie Journal: "...Mitchell has a strong dramatic conception of the role of Rodolfo." (Mid-Hudson Opera Company)
"The Sordid Story of the Sodium Balls," a short story, was awarded FIRST PRIZE in a memoir contest by THE WRITERS' WORKSHOP, January 2014. The story was also published by Yareah Magazine in 2013. It also appears in Sodium Balls, A Reverend's Journey, Bob's third book released in 2017.
Bob holds a B.S. degree in Voice and Opera from the Mannes College of Music, NYC 1964. From 1968 to 1998 while singing opera at night and on weekends he became Manager of Marketing Information Management at Scholastic, Inc., the New York-based educational publisher. In 1997 he and his wife Joan earned Master of Divinity degrees from the New Brunswick Theological Seminary and served as co-pastors of a rural church in New York State for seven years. He also taught philosophy at Marist College in Poughkeepsie. They retired from this pastorate and moved to northeast Pennsylvania, where Bob served as a substitute teacher and supply pastor for many congregations.
Looking back over his unusual career, he began to chronicle his adventures. He self-published his first book in 2007, Opera Inside Out, a look at several of his leading opera heroes. In the meantime, he wrote sermons, articles on religion, religion and science, and religion and politics, many of which have been published in various newspapers and religious journals. His second book, a compelling memoir about his singing career, Tales of a Tenacious Tenor, published 2013. Sodium Balls, A Reverend's Journey, his second memoir released in 2017, chronicles his long trek to the pastorate beginning with his early life growing up in Pennsylvania. Unlicensed Love, Bob's first novel, features two promising opera singers who fall in fall with each through their onstage roles. The problem? They are married, but not to each other. It explores the upsetting emotions with suspecting spouses, there's a kidnapping, police chases, violence, and suspence. Watch for it -- coming soon.
Composer Opera Role(s)
Auber FRA DIAVOLO Lorenzo
Bellini NORMA Pollione
Bizet CARMEN Don Jose
Cimarosa THE SECRET MARRIAGE Paolino
Cornelius BARBER OF BAGDAD The Cadi
Donizetti L’ELISIR D’AMORE Nemorino
Floyd, Carlise SUSANNAH Sam
Gounod FAUST Faust
Haydn DECEIT OUTWITTED Filippo
Herbert NAUGHTY MARIETTA Dick Warrington
Lehar THE MERRY WIDOW Camille
Leoncavallo I PAGLIACCI Canio
Mascagni CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA Turiddu
Massenet MANON Des Grieux
Menotti AMAHL & THE NIGHT VISITORS Kaspar
Mozart ABDUCTION FR… SERAGLIO Belmonte
LA CLEMENZA DI TITO Tito
MAGIC FLUTE Tamino
DON GIOVANNI Don Ottavio
Offenbach TALES OF HOFFMANN Hoffmann
Puccini LA BOHEME Rodolfo
MADAMA BUTTERFLY Pinkerton
Rimsky-Korsakov SNOW MAIDEN Tsar Berendey
Strauss DIE FLEDERMAUS Alfredo
Vaughan-Williams MERRY WIVES OF WINSOR Caius
Verdi OBERTO Riccardo
I DUE FOSCARI Jacopo Foscari
LA TRAVIATA Alfredo
IL TROVATORE Manrico
UN BALLO IN MASCHERA Gustavo
Ward CRUCIBLE Rev. Parris