John Cheek made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1977 and has been a member of that company ever since, singing many of the leading bass-baritone roles in Don Giovanni, La Bohème, The Magic Flute, Marriage of Figaro, Cosí Fan Tutte, Aida, Pelleas et Melisande, Faust and La Clemenza di Tito.
Highlights for season 1999/2000 include five performances of Berlioz The Damnation of Faust with the Finnish National Opera, La Clemenza di Tito with the Dallas Opera, an appearance with the Met Chamber ensemble conducted by James Levine, a premier of The Pulitzer prize winning opera Life is a Dream by Lewis Spratlan at Harvard and Amherst University, the world premiere of Stephen Paulus’s opera Summer with the Berkshire Opera plus orchestral engagements with the Atlanta, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Asheville and Cincinnati orchestras.
Season 1998-1999 included The Flying Dutchman (title role) with the Houston and Columbus Opera. Other performances included Faust with Seattle Opera, King Philip in Don Carlo with Montreal and The Magic Flute (Sprecher) with the Metropolitan Opera. Orchestral engagements included the Montreal Symphony, American Symphony Orchestra in Avery Fisher Hall, Harrisburg Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Rotterdam Radio Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony, Brevard and Aspen Festival plus the Cincinnati Symphony in the regular season and for the May Festival.
Season 1997-98 included returning to the Metropolitan Opera for many performances of The Magic Flute (Sprecher) and La Clemenza di Tito (Publio). He also sang his first performances of The Flying Dutchman (Title role) with the Florentine Opera (Milwaukee), Lodovico in Otello in Brussels, Mephistopheles in Faust with Quebec Opera and Friar Lawrence with Pittsburgh Opera in Romeo et Juliette. Orchestral engagements include the orchestras of St. Louis, National Symphony, Madrid, Montreal, Vancouver, Princeton and Brooklyn Philharmonic.
Season 1996-97 included engagements with the following orchestras: National Symphony of Washington, St. Louis Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Oregon Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Columbus Symphony, Kansas City Philharmonic, Phoenix Symphony, Houston Symphony, Madrid Radio Orchestra and the Cincinnati May Festival. Mr. Cheek also made his debut with La Monnaie in Brussels singing Lodovico in Otello.
In season 1995-96, after his Metropolitan Opera performances in Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute, he performed with the New York Philharmonic under Kurt Masur, the Minnesota Orchestra, the National Symphony with Leonard Slatkin, the Utah Symphony, the Milwaukee Symphony, the Vancouver Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony (May Festival) with James Conlon and the San Jose Symphony. John sang his first Don Pasquale with the Cincinnati Summer Opera, sang the title role of Don Giovanni with the Florentine Opera of Milwaukee and sang his first Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress with the Berkshire Opera. He also recorded Stravinsky’s Renard with Hugh Wolff and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra which was released in April 1995.
Select engagements for the 1994-95 season included Boito’s Mefistofele at Opera de Nice, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with San Francisco Symphony, the Verdi Requiem, Bach’s B Minor Mass with the St. Louis Symphony, Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust at the Stockholm Konserthussifatelse, Britten’s War Requiem at the Cincinnati May Festival, Haydn’s Creation with the Collegiate Chorale, Mahler’s Symphony No 8 with Cleveland Orchestra, Schoenberg’s Survivor from Warsaw, Martinu’s Field Mass, Martin’s In Terra Pax with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, and Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius with the Indianapolis Symphony.
Mr. Cheek’s engagements for the 1993-94 season included the title role of Boito’s Mefistofele in a new production at the Basel Opera, I Lombardi at the Metropolitan Opera, the title role in Verdi’s Attila at the Opera de Nice, Zaccaria in the same composer’s Nabucco at the Bregenzer Festspiele in Austria, a return to Opera de Nice for performances in the title role of Don Giovanni, Jacopo Loredano in Verdi’s Due Foscari and early in the 1994-95 season, in Boito’s Mefistofele, Dvorak’s Stabat Mater with the New Jersey Symphony, Herod in L’Enfance du Christ with the orchestra of St. Lukes, Renard with St. Paul Chamber which has been recorded on BMG, the Verdi Requiem with the New Jersey Symphony and the Milwaukee Symphony, Schubert’s Mass No. 6 and the Mozart Requiem with the Indianapolis Symphony, Mephistopheles in Damnation of Faust with the St. Louis Symphony, Schoenberg’s Survivor of Warsaw and Martinu’s Field Mass at the Mann Music Center.
The 1992-93 season brought Mr. Cheek much critical acclaim, notably for The Rake’s Progress with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Avery Fisher Hall, which was also recorded by Music Masters. Beethoven Symphony No. 9 brought Mr. Cheek together with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Indianapolis Symphony with Leppard, and the National Symphony with Macal. Other concert performances included Damnation of Faust with the Minneapolis Symphony under Gergiev, Rachmaninoff’s The Bells with Milwaukee Symphony and Dvorak’s Stabat Mater with the New Jersey Symphony.
In 1991-92, select concert performances included Berlioz’s Romeo et Juliette with the San Francisco Symphony, the Verdi’s Requiem with the New Jersey Symphony and the same composer’s Don Carlos with Opera de Nice, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with Dennis Russell Davies in Bonn and St. John’s Passion with Helmuth Rilling in Stuttgart as part of a concert tour with Rilling through Germany and Austria and the 25th Anniversary Gala of Collegiate Chorale at Carnegie Hall.
In past seasons, John Cheek’s appearances included a world premiere of Ned Rorem’s Goodbye, My Fancy with the Chicago Symphony (Slatkin), the world premiere of Sir Michael Tippet’s The Mask of Time with The Boston Symphony (Colin Davis) a return to the Ravinia Festival for Missa Solemnis (Levine), scenes from Goethe’s Faust at the Caramoor Festival, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 14 with both New Jersey Symphony and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra conducted by Hugh Wolff, Metropolitan Opera productions of Fidelio and Salome and Aida at Cincinnati Opera. At New York City Opera, he was Don Giovanni in the new Harold Prince production. In February/March 1990, Mr. Cheek made his debut with the Stuttgart Bach Academy and Helmuth Rilling in performan
ces and a recording of Franck’s Les Beatitudes.
John Cheek has appeared with almost all of the major orchestras in North America, in an astounding variety of oratorios and symphonic works. He has sung repeatedly with such distinguished conductors as Leonard Bernstein, Andrew Davis, Sir Colin Davis, Charles Dutoit, Erich Leinsdorf, James Levine, Zubin Mehta, Leonard Slatkin and Sir Georg Solti. He also appears regularly in recital and, on two notable occasions, his pianist-collaborator was James Levine in New York and again at the Ravinia Festival. He has also been recognized as a star bass in such European Centers as London, Paris, Berlin and Zurich.
John Cheek’s recordings include Stravinsky’s Renard with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Bernstein’s Songfest with the St. Louis Symphony both on BMG, The Rake’s Progress with Orchestra of St. Luke’s on Music Masters, Dvorak’s Stabat Mater with Zdenek Macal and the New Jersey Symphony, Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder on SONY Classical, and Haydn’s Creation with Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony and Chamber Chorus on Telarc.
Born in Greenville, South Carolina, John Cheek grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina and attended the North Carolina School for the Arts. It was there that Cheek first studied voice, and after graduating he furthered his studies in Siena, Italy and at the Manhattan School of Music.