The young Australian baritone is headed for Germany as the recipient of the inaugural Deutsche Oper Berlin Award.

Young Australian baritone Sam Roberts-Smith has been announced as the winner of the inaugural Deutsche Oper Berlin Award. Supported by The Opera Foundation for Young Australians, Henkell Brothers Investment Managers and Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Award contracts the winner as a member of the Deutsche Oper Berlin for a period of 10 months for the 2017–18 season. Auditions were held across Australia in April and May this year. Roberts-Smith, who is originally from Perth, was selected with two other finalists from Melbourne and confirmed as the winner on August 19.

Sam Roberts-Smith. Photo supplied

“Being selected as the winner of the 2016 Deutsche Oper Berlin Award is a moment I will never forget,” he says. “The potential life and career opportunities this Award provides are truly endless and winning it is life-changing. I feel extremely grateful and honoured to be the inaugural recipient. The Deutsche Oper Berlin is one of the greatest opera companies in the world. It is still surreal for me to think that at some point next year I will be performing on stage with the world’s best opera singers. These are performers I have admired and looked up to my whole life. Simply being able to watch and absorb what is happening around me will be fascinating and educational. I am thrilled and excited – and determined to make this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity a wonderful success.”

The young baritone – whose brother Ben is an Australian war hero, Victoria Cross recipient and the current General Manager of the Seven Network Brisbane – graduated from WAAPA in 2008 with a Bachelor of Music and Graduate Diploma in Opera. In 2009, he joined Opera Australia, where he was a member of the 2012 Moffatt Oxenbould Young Artists Program. He made his OA principal debut as Moralès in Carmen in 2011 and later played the smuggler Le Remendado in Carmen: Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour. He also played Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni and Tamino in The Magic Flute for Oz Opera, before leaving OA in 2014.

In 2015, Roberts-Smith joined the internationally renowned classical crossover entertainment group The TEN Tenors. Though he has described himself in the past as “a bari-tenor”, he says now that he is “definitely a baritone”. He makes his role debut as Zurga in The Pearl Fishers for West Australian Opera in October, where he was a mentored artist in 2015, before returning to The TEN Tenors for a US tour.

Roberts-Smith cannot yet reveal what roles he will play in Berlin as the season is still under wraps. “However, from the schedule I have been sent I can confirm that I will be performing a large number of roles, many of which I have always wanted to perform,” he says. “It will be an extremely busy time but I am prepared and up to the challenge.”