Theodore Baerg

Theodore (Paul) Baerg. Baritone, teacher, b Mountain Lake, Minn, 19 Dec 1952 of Canadian parents; B MUS (Wilfrid Laurier) 1977. As a student, Baerg sang in amateur church groups and in a quartet, the Gospel Minstrels, which toured Ontario and Manitoba.

Baerg, Theodore

Theodore (Paul) Baerg. Baritone, teacher, b Mountain Lake, Minn, 19 Dec 1952 of Canadian parents; B MUS (Wilfrid Laurier) 1977. As a student, Baerg sang in amateur church groups and in a quartet, the Gospel Minstrels, which toured Ontario and Manitoba. He originally intended to pursue a career in horticulture but his teacher, Jacqueline Richard, convinced him that his voice had career potential. He studied singing with Victor Martens, Janine Lachance, and Irving Guttman. He made his operatic debut in 1974 as Masetto in a concert performance of Don Giovanni in Kitchener, and his first staged performance in 1976 as Figaro in the COC Summer Festival production of The Barber of Seville, a role he has subsequently performed many times. On a Canada Council grant he studied in Italy with Alfonso Siliotti in 1979. He was offered a contract in Heidelberg, Germany, but chose to return to Canada where he sang 1980-2 with the COC Ensemble: Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus, Danilo in The Merry Widow, and Papageno in the Magic Flute. He made his US debut as Dandini in 1985 in Cenerentola at the Des Moines Summer Festival, and in England as Ramiro in 1988 at Glyndebourne Festival in Ravel's L'Heure espagnole. He sang with such Canadian companies as the COC, Pacific Opera, the Calgary, Edmonton, Manitoba, Montreal, Quebec, and Vancouver operas, Opera Lyra Ottawa, Opera in Concert, and Opera Hamilton, and in the USA with the Washington Opera, Opera Pacific (Los Angeles), Toledo Opera, and the San Francisco Opera in roles including Don Giovanni, Sharpless, Guglielmo (Così fan tutte), Lescaut (Manon Lescaut), Count Almaviva (Nozze di Figaro), and Marcello (La Bohème). He was one of three singers to portray the title role in the 1986 premiere of István Anhalt'sWinthrop. Baerg also created the role of Stefan for the world premier of Mario and the Magician, by Harry Somers, in 1992.

His full and flexible voice extended well into the traditional tenor and bass ranges. As a result he had a flair for light opera and 'pops' concerts and sang in Kismet and Desert Song with the New York City Opera. He appeared as soloist with numerous choirs and sang with such orchestras as the Edmonton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Quebec, and Thunder Bay symphony orchestras, Orchestra London, Canada, the Rochester Philharmonic, and at the Stratford Festival and the Guelph Spring Festival.

In 1994 Baerg taught at the University of British Columbia; in 1996 he became associate professor of voice at the University of Western Ontario, where he also directed the opera workshop. He maintained his schedule of international performances with the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Opera (Ping in Turandot; Ned Keene in Peter Grimes; Prince Ottakar in Der Freischütz), and the Glyndebourne Festival. In Canada he was seen with numerous companies including the Vancouver Opera (as Sharpless in 2000, and as George in the company premier of Of Mice and Men in 2002). The latter role was recorded on the disc Vancouver Opera 2001/2002 season: Best music you'll ever see (USP 12001 Universal Music 2001). After the mid-1990s he expanded his repertoire, adding such roles as Rigoletto, Eugene Onegin, and Ford in Falstaff. Baerg created the role of the Storyteller/Fabulist in Randolph Peters' The Golden Ass, at the COC world premiere in 1999. In concert, he sang in works as varied as Carmina Burana, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, and the musical Showboat.

He married the soprano Irena Welhasch-Baerg.


Further Reading

  • Durichen, Pauline. 'Variety the spice of Baerg's opera life,' Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 25 Jan 1980

    Jones, Gaynor. 'Performance interview,' Performance, Mar/Apr 1985

    Harris, Robert. 'Singer steps in,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 11 July 1995

    Citron, Paula. 'A made-in-Canada career: baritone Theodore Baerg shows you can make your mark in music close to home,' Opera Canada, vol 39, Winter 1998

    Citron, Paula. 'A made-in-Canada career: Baritone Theodore Baerg shows you can make your mark in music closer to home,' Opera Canada, winter 1998