Robert Grayson is the Edith Killgore Kirkpatrick Distinguished Professor who served as Chair of the Voice/Opera Division (1987-2016) at the LSU School of Music. A leading tenor at the New York City Opera for a decade, Grayson has sung throughout the USA at many great opera houses including Chicago Lyric, Cleveland, Miami, Tulsa, and Spoleto. Professor Grayson has been cited as a "Rising Star" by the LSU Alumni Magazine, has been the recipient of the Phi Kappa Phi award for "Outstanding Creativity in the Arts" and has received commendation from the Student Government Association for "Outstanding Teaching." Grayson was recognized in 2016 for his legacy at LSU with a Gala Performance featuring several of his successful former students. In addition, his studio was named in his honor the "Robert & Karola Grayson Award for Excellence in Singing" was established.
Making his New York debut as Faust opposite Samuel Ramey's Mefistofele, Grayson sang over 100 performances as leading tenor for the New York City Opera in such operas as La Boheme, Madama Butterfly, and Carmen. With that company he opened new productions of Tosca, Norma, and La Traviata. Grayson has appeared as leading tenor with numerous performing organizations: The Spoleto Festival, Italy, Israel Philharmonic in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem & Haifa, Santa Fe Opera, Arizona Opera Company, Canadian Opera, Tulsa Opera, Miami Opera, Wolftrap, Saratoga, Cleveland, ARTPARK, San Diego Opera, Costa Mesa Opera, Los Angeles Opera Theatre, Washington National Opera, Kennedy Center, and the Los Angeles Music Center Opera. Grayson may be heard as "Caesar" on New World Records Antony & Cleopatra by Barber which won a GRAMMY.
He has performed with Beverly Sills, Jerome Hines, Tatiana Troyanos, Samuel Ramey, Susan Graham, Elizabeth Futral, Jeffrey Wells, Paul Groves, Lisette Oropesa, Chad Shelton, Marilyn Niska, and has sung under the batons of Charles Mackerras, Richard Bonynge, Eduardo Muller, Julius Rudel, Bruno Rigacci, and Walter Herbert.
From 1998 to 2002 Professor Grayson served as the first General-Artistic Director of the LSU Opera, during which time productions were increased from two to four per year, two state-wide tours were undertaken, and budgets were quadrupled through fund raising and engagement of the community. The Patrons of LSU Opera were formed, the LSU Opera Endowment was initiated, the 75 Voices were born. Extant opera groups were cultivated and integrated into the support system for LSU Opera, including BRAVO (Baton Rouge Area Volunteers for Opera) and BROG (Baton Rouge Opera Guild).
Robert Grayson has produced a number of outstanding professional singers. Foremost among these artists is Tenor Paul Groves who has made auspicious debuts at the MET, La Scala, Vienna, Munich, and Glyndebourne. Soprano Lisette Oropesa, who has electrified the operatic world at the MET, La Scala, Covent Garden, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Glyndebourne, Opera di Roma, etc. Tenor Chad Shelton, of the MET, New York City Opera, Houston Grand, San Francisco, Strasbourg; Tenor Matt Morgan, of New York City Opera, the Pittsburgh Opera, National Grand Opera, Fort Worth Opera; Baritone Noel Bouley, Deutsche Opera, Opera San Jose, Opera Koln. Baritone Shon Sims of New York City Opera, Seattle Opera, Colorado Festival Opera; Soprano Kimla Beasley of Houston Grand; Character tenor Edward Dacus of Ohio Light Opera, New Orleans Opera; TenorMatt Morgan, of New York City Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, National
Grand Opera, Fort Worth Opera; Heldentenor Andrew Zimmerman, Aachen, Pfortzheim, Germany; Baritone Kenneth Brundage, Ohio Light Opera, New Orleans Opera; Mezzo Soprano Kathleen Clawson, regional orchestral soloist; Soprano Dawn Harris, Ohio Light Opera, Chicago Opera Theatre. Two Tucker Award winners, and one Beverly Sills Award winner from the MET.
In the Fall of 2007 Grayson founded Opera Louisiane, a professional regional company which brought some of the world's great singers to Baton Rouge and has presented fully-staged operas to school children and to the community with more than 30,000 attending over the years. Grayson stepped down at the end of the season in 2011, with the company "in the black" and with a reserve for the following season.
Grayson maintains studios in Baton Rouge and at LSU in collaboration with Paul Groves, with occasional residencies in New York City. His passion for the pipe organ is shared by his wife, Karola. They were introduced as freshmen by their organ professor. They have one amazing daughter and three most amazing grandchildren.