TALKING WITH … Robin Stamper, Artistic and Managing Director of Opera Tampa

Currently the Artistic/Managing Director and Chorus Master for Opera Tampa, Robin Andrew Stamper continues a versatile career as a coach-accompanist, chorus master and opera conductor. Credits include director of music for the Kentucky Opera where he made his conducting debut for The Mikado. Subsequently, he became Artistic Director for the Nevada Opera where he conducted the mainstage productions of The Marriage of Figaro, The Barber of Seville, Lucia di Lammermoor, Rigoletto, Suor Angelica and Pagliacci. Following his tenure at Nevada Opera, Stamper became the music director for the Orlando Opera where he conducted L’elisir d’armore, Pirates of Penzance, The Marriage of Figaro and Die Fledermaus. Also notable during his tenure at Orlando Opera was the growth of the Orlando Opera Chorus, which culminated in highly acclaimed performances of Turandot, Il Trovatore and Cavalleria Rusticana. In addition he conducted La Traviata and Camelot for the Augusta Opera and, as artistic director for the Florida Opera Theatre, Cosi fan tutte and The Barber of Seville. Having received his degrees in piano performance at the Eastman School of Music and the Juilliard School, Stamper is a frequent performer as recital pianist and accompanist.

As we approach the Opera Tampa LIVE on the River performances of Troubadour’s Tale and Butterfly’s Flight, Caught in the Act asked Robin a few questions – some profound and some silly – to better get to know this intriguing personality. A devoted roller coaster enthusiast (perfect for the roller coaster of a year), his answers below reveal that he is even more devoted to his craft and to his husband, Nicky.

A 95mph coaster that looks like a treble clef (left) and Robin in front of a 420ft coaster with a 120mph launch (right).

What has been the hardest part of this coronavirus experience for you?
Besides missing face to face interactions, the avoidance of my gym and amusement park closures (being a roller coaster enthusiast).

How are you filling your time, both with work and otherwise?
Professionally, I’ve been rehearsing and practicing for and performing in Opera Tampa’s Riverwalk performances. Also, I have been dealing with budgets, contracts and potential casting for next year’s soon to-be-announced season. Personally, I’ve been planning a roller coaster trip and finding creative ways to exercise at home.

Robin performing during Opera Tampa’s Valentine’s Engagement, 2021.

How did you get started in the world of opera?
My interest in singers began in college where I earned a living playing for voice lessons and accompanied a plethora of voice recitals. It was through this that I learned the basics of singing technique, although my own singing is dreadful. Ultimately, American composer Carlisle Floyd talked me into auditioning for the Houston Grand Opera’s opera studio program (for which I was accepted).

What is your worst quality?
Voicing my thoughts before vetting them.

Robin and his husband, Nicky.

What music is on your playlist?
I don’t have a playlist. But I hear my husband’s which includes many of the great pop singers. I love opera but I get my share though my work.

What’s your sign and what does it say about you?
Leo – I am comfortable being the center of attention, I’m not shy; gregarious.

Read any good books lately?
Yes – Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why it Matters and How to Harness It by Ethan Kross.

What’s always in your refrigerator?
Naked Juices, green tea and frozen foods that cook well in the air fryer.

What’s the greatest thing since sliced bread?
Roller coasters and the singers who enjoy them with me.

What’s your “guilty pleasure” television show?
Schitt’s Creek … easily

In the movie version of your life, who would play you?
I would like to say Betty Davis, but I may not be quite that grand. So, I’ll say equal parts Alan Rickman, Peter Rowsthorn and Vincent Price, depending on the scene. If I really must choose one; Alan Rickman. He also loved roller coasters.

Who or what inspires you?
I don’t ever try to emulate other people. I would just disappoint myself. The source of my inspiration comes from trying to be aware of my potential.

Robin with Maestro Anton Coppola and his wife Almerinda at their home in Central Park West.

What do you consider your greatest successes – personally and professionally?
– Playing a Chopin ballade and a Liszt Hungarian rhapsody in a private master class with Leonard Bernstein (and him remembering my name a year later).
– Having my three professional references for years be Sherrill Milnes, Carlisle Floyd and Anton Coppola.
– Sharing an all-American concert with The Captain and Tennille (I played the Gershwin “Concerto in F” with a terrific orchestra).
– Marrying one of the most decent persons I have ever met.

If you hadn’t chosen a career in music, what other career path do you think you’d have followed?
Politics, law or psychology.

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