Dutch baritone Roger Smeets (born 1960) studied at Conservatorium Maastricht, where he now teaches Directing and Drama in the Classical Music department. In 1989 he won the Dutch Music Prize at the International Vocal Competition in ’s-Hertogenbosch. He worked for the opera studio (then Young Talent Section) of the Dutch National Opera Foundation in Amsterdam from 1983 to 1986. Since then, he has regularly performed with DNO (now Dutch National Opera & Ballet) in productions including Parsifal, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Un ballo in Maschera, La Traviata, Rigoletto, De Neus, Pique Dame, Capriccio, Tristan und Isolde, Salome, Dialogues des Carmélites, Madama Butterfly, Die Gezeichneten, Kát’a Kabanová, Die Frau ohne Schatten, La Fanciulla del West, Turandot, Les Vêpres Siciliennes, Billy Budd, Jevgeni Onjegin, De Speler Arabella, Lulu, and the world premieres of Gassir, the Hero (Theo Loevendie), Rosa, a horse drama (Louis Andriessen), HIER° (Guus Janssen) and Adam in Ballingschap (Rob Zuidam).
From 1986 to 2013, he was a regular guest with the Komische Oper Berlin. He sang the roles of Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro (1986), the title role in Don Giovanni (1987), Escamillo in Carmen (1991), Muze/Nicklausse in Les Contes d’Hoffmann (1993), Le Prince de Mantoue in Les Brigands (1994), Petrus in Der Gewaltige Hahnrei by Berthold Goldschmidt (1994), Tomski in Pique Dame (1997), Aristide/Pluton in Orphée aux Enfers (1999) and Mercutio in Romeo et Juliette (2001). The above productions were directed by Harry Kupfer. He also sang the title role in Jevgeni Onjegin (1988, directed by Adolf Dresen), Ping in Turandot (1998, directed by Christine Mielitz), the title role in Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sweeney Todd (2004, directed by Christopher Bond), Fred Graham/Petrucchio in Cole Porter’s musical Kiss me, Kate (2008, directed by Barrie Kosky), le vice-roi in La Périchole (2010, directed by Nicolas Steman), Nerone in L’incoronazione di Poppea (2012, Monteverdi/Elena Kats-Chernin editie; directed by Barrie Kosky) and Papageno Die Zauberflöte (2012, directed by Barrie Kosky/Suzanne Andrade).
He also sang the role of Fred Graham/Petrucchio in the production of Kiss me, Kate by Oper Köln (2010). In 2001 in Frankfurt am Main, he performed the role of Achim in the world premiere of Gold, 92 Bars in a Crashed Car by Peter Greenaway. Roger Smeets played the role of Junior in the Dutch
premiere (1987) of Leonard Bernstein’sA Quiet Place. In 1999 he was engaged by the Nationale Reisopera (now Nederlandse Reisopera) in Enschede and performed various roles including Graaf (Count) in Reigen by Philippe Boesmans and Baron Tusenbach in Tri Sestri by Peter Eötvös. In 2001 he also sang the role of Theseus in the world premiere of Creon by Huub Kerstens. This was followed by Baron Douphol in La Traviata (G. Verdi, 2003), Feldmarschall Dörfling in Der Prinz von Homburg (W.H. Henze, 2004), Pish Tush in The Mikado (A.S. Sullivan, 2004 and 2006), Sharpless in Madama Butterfly (G. Puccini, 2004) and Mandarin in Turandot (G. Puccini, 2006). With Opera Zuid in Maastricht he also performed as Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro (W.A. Mozart, 1991), Albert in Werther (J. Massenet, 1991) and Schaunard in La Bohème (G. Puccini, 1994). He was a guest in productions by the Komische Oper Berlin in Tokyo/Nagoya (1991, 1994 and 1998), Vienna (1992) and Bergen (Norway, 1997). In 1993 he sang the role of Le prince de Mantoue in Les Brigands in Ludwigshafen. In 1996 he was a guest at the Mozart OK festival in Bartlesville/Oklahoma (US), and in 2006 for the production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia (G. Rossini) in Luxembourg.
He also sang in the world premiere of The Children of Uranium by Saskia Boddeke, Peter Greenaway and Andreá Liberovici in Genua (Festival della Scienza, 2005) and in Naples (2006). Also in Rembrandts Spiegel by and with Saskia Boddeke and Peter Greenaway (music Vincent van Warmerdam) in Rotterdam 2007 and in Budapest 2008. In 2009 he once again played the count in Reigen by Philippe Boesmans, this time directed by Harry Kupfer in the Amphithéâtre Bastille of the Opéra National de Paris. In 2012 he sang the role of Le Grand Prêtre in Alceste (C.W. Gluck), directed by Christof Loy, at Det Kongelige Teater in Copenhagen. In 2014, in the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, also with Christof Loy, he sang the role of Graf Dominik in Arabella (R. Strauss). In addition to the above directors, Roger Smeets has also worked with Dario Fo, Klaus-Michael Grüber, David Alden, Graham Vick, Alfred Kirchner, Lev Dodin, David Pountney, Pierre Audi, Stanislas Nordey, Robert Wilson, Robert Carsen, Andreas Homoki, Willy Decker, Martin Kušej, Andrea Breth and William Kentridge. And with conductors including: Riccardo Chailly, Sir Simon Rattle, Semyon Bychkov, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, Marc Albrecht, Hartmut Haenchen, Carlo Rizzi, Ingo Metzmacher, Yakov Kreizberg, Vladimir Jurowski, Reinbert de Leeuw, Kenneth Montgomery, David Robertson, Hans Vonk, Edo de Waart, Jaap van Zweden, Anton Kersjes, Yves Abel, Paolo Carignani, Ivor Bolton, Mariss Jansons, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Iván Fischer, Lothar Zagrosek and Alberto Zedda. Roger Smeets features on various CD and DVD recordings of DNO productions and televised premieres (3Sat) by Komische Oper Berlin.