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John Cheek

Biography

Born: August 17, 1948; Greenville, NC  
Taken into the fold of the Metropolitan Opera before the age of 30, this versatile bass baritone has grown from a promising beginning to satisfying artistic maturity. John Cheek's compact, finely focused instrument has gained in density over the years without losing its firm, handsome sound; indeed, his finest work has come since he entered his forties, a time when many other basses and bass baritones are already showing evidence of vocal Read more deterioration. His good looks have also served to make his an effective stage presence. Often, he has produced performances perceptibly better-sung and acted than those by singers far more aggressively promoted by recording companies. Although Cheek has frequently recorded and has primarily been heard in leading roles, stardom has eluded him. On the other hand, listeners seeking vocal polish and artistic sensitivity have discovered in him a singer who commands utmost respect.

Born in South Carolina, Cheek grew up in Wilmington, NC, and was a student at the North Carolina School for the Arts. Upon graduation, he studied at the Manhattan School of Music and in Siena, Italy, where he underwent advanced training with Gino Bechi, the famous baritone who sang and recorded in Italy during the 1940s and 1950s. Cheek's Metropolitan Opera debut took place on October 11, 1977, when he sang the Physician in Pelléas et Mélisande. In subsequent seasons, he was heard in more prominent roles, such as Mozart's Figaro, Ferrando in Il trovatore, Monterone, Pimen, Panthée (Les troyens), Wurm, Alfonso, Méphistophélès, and even Klingsor. Cheek's New York City Opera debut came in 1986 and he has since sung a number of leading roles in that theater.

Cheek's career has taken him far beyond New York. In the 1990s alone, he sang in Verdi's Don Carlos in Nice and performed Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust with the Minnesota Orchestra under Valery Gergiev. During the 1993 - 1994 season, he again performed La Damnation de Faust in concert, this time singing Méphistophélès with the St. Louis Symphony and in Europe was heard as Attila in Nice and Zaccaria in Bregenz. The 1994 - 1995 season found Cheek returning to Nice for Boito's Mefistofele and essaying Berlioz's devil once more, this time in Stockholm. The next season was notable for Cheek's first Don Pasquale at the Cincinnati Summer Opera, Don Giovanni with Milwaukee's Florentine Opera, and Nick Shadow (his first on-stage) with the Berkshire Opera. For the 1997 - 1998 season, Cheek sang his first Vanderdecken in the Florentine Opera's Flying Dutchman, presented Gounod's Méphistophélès at the Quebec Opera and portrayed Frère Lawrence in Pittsburgh. For 1998 - 1999, Cheek took his Dutchman to both Houston and Columbus, sang King Philip in Montreal and bedeviled Gounod's Faust in Seattle. As his career crossed into the new millennium, Cheek sang with the Dallas Civic Opera in La clemenza di Tito and sang Berlioz's Méphistophélès in Helsinki.

Cheek has achieved equal distinction on the concert stage, having sung with nearly all the major American symphonies and many abroad. Under such estimable conductors as Leonard Bernstein, Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Colin Davis, Charles Dutoit, James Levine, Zubin Mehta, Leonard Slatkin, and Sir Georg Solti, he has sung an eclectic assortment of the core concert repertory as well as works by contemporary composers. Aside from such works as Verdi's Requiem, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, and Schoenberg's Gurrelieder (recorded), he premiered Tippett's Mask of Time (also recorded) and has been acclaimed in Martinu's Field Mass and Frank Martin's In Terra Pax. Read less
Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress / West, Garrison, Cheek, Craft, Orchestra Of St. Luke's
Release Date: 05/26/2009   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8660272-73   Number of Discs: 2
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Browse 1-25 of 25 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Schoenberg: Gurre-lieder / Mehta, Lakes, Marton, Quivar
    Label: Newton Classics   Catalog: 8802190 Release Date: 07/30/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg
    Performer:  Florence Quivar,  Eva Martón,  Hans Hotter,  Jon Garrison  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Choral Artists,  New York Philharmonic
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  • 2.
    Bernstein: Songfest, Symphony No 1 / Slatkin, Bernstein
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 61581 Release Date: 03/10/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leonard Bernstein
    Performer:  John Cheek,  Wendy White,  Patricia Spence,  Vernon Hartman  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Slatkin,  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
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  • 3.
    Scearce: The 99 Beautiful Names Of God / John Cheek
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1139 Release Date: 09/08/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  J. Mark Scearce
    Performer:  John Cheek
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  • 4.
    Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress / West, Garrison, Cheek, Craft, Orchestra Of St. Luke's
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8660272-73 Release Date: 05/26/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  Jeffrey Johnson,  Shirley Love,  Melvin Lowery,  Jayne West  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Craft
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of St. Luke's,  Gregg Smith Singers
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  • 5.
    Franck: Les Beatitudes / Rilling, Montague, Danz, Et Al
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 98548 Release Date: 05/12/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  César Franck
    Performer:  Juan Vasle,  Reinhard Hagen,  John Cheek,  Ingeborg Danz  ... 
    Conductor:  Helmuth Rilling
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart,  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 6.
    Puccini: Tosca / Levine, Scotto, Domingo, Bruson, Velis, Hudson, Et Al
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 08827 Release Date: 09/16/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Renato Capecchi,  John Cheek,  Placido Domingo
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 7.
    Puccini: Tosca / Levine, Scotto, Domingo, Bruson
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 93271 Release Date: 09/25/2007   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  John Cheek,  Renata Scotto,  Renato Bruson,  Renato Capecchi  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Clement Danes Grammar School Boys Choir,  Ambrosian Opera Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 8.
    British Orchestral Collection / Various
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8502502 Release Date: 11/15/2006   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Bruce Montgomery,  Michael Hurd,  Haydn Wood  ... 
    Performer:  Roderick Williams,  Iain Burnside,  Graham Johnson,  John Metcalfe  ... 
    Conductor:  James Judd,  David Lloyd-Jones,  Michael Tippett,  Adrian Leaper  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Symphony Orchestra,  Duke String Quartet,  Royal Ballet Sinfonia  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 9.
    Tippett: Child Of Our Time / Robinson, Walker, Et Al
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8557570 Release Date: 02/22/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Michael Tippett
    Performer:  Faye Robinson,  Sarah Walker,  Jon Garrison,  John Cheek
    Conductor:  Michael Tippett
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra,  City of Birmingham Choir
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  • 10.
    Franck: Les Beatitudes / Rilling, Kallisch, Cheek, Et Al
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 98435 Release Date: 08/01/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  César Franck
    Performer:  Juan Vasle,  Cornelia Kallisch,  John Cheek,  Gilles Cachemaille
    Conductor:  Helmuth Rilling
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart
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  • 11.
    Handel: Deidamia / Palmer, Baird, Brewer Chamber Orchestra
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 460 Release Date: 08/28/2001   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Brenda Harris,  Julianne Baird,  D'Anna Fortunato,  John Cheek  ... 
    Conductor:  Rudolph Palmer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brewer Baroque Chamber Orchestra,  Rudolph Palmer Singers
    On sale! $59.98
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  • 12.
    Opera - Puccini: Tosca (Highlights) / Levine, Scotto, Et Al
    Label: Emi Seraphim   Catalog: 74131 Release Date: 10/24/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Renata Scotto,  Andrea Velis,  Paul Hudson,  Placido Domingo  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  St. Clement Danes Grammar School Boys Choir,  Ambrosian Opera Chorus
    CD: $7.99
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  • 13.
    Handel: Messiah /Westenburg, Musica Sacra
    Label: Rca Red Seal Hp   Catalog: 63317 Release Date: 08/10/1999   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  John Cheek,  Richard Westenburg,  Martin Berinbaum,  Frederick Zlotkin  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Westenburg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Musica Sacra
    CD: $11.99
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  • 14.
    Menotti: The Consul / Revzen, Castle, Golden, Et Al
    Label: Newport Classic   Catalog: 85645 Release Date: 10/20/1998   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gian Carlo Menotti
    Performer:  Joyce Castle,  Beverly Thiele,  Emily Golden,  John Davies  ... 
    Conductor:  Joel Revzen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berkshire Opera Company
    On sale! $36.98
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  • 15.
    The Art Of The American Singer
    Label: Newport Classic   Catalog: 85636 Release Date: 09/15/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Amy Marcy Beach,  George Frideric Handel,  André Messager,  Victor Herbert  ... 
    Performer:  Mary Ellen Callahan,  Frederick Urrey,  Ted Christopher,  Julianne Baird  ... 
    Conductor:  Rudolph Palmer,  J. Lynn Thompson,  Johannes Somary,  Michael Butterman  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rudolph Palmer Singers,  Brewer Baroque Chamber Orchestra,  Ohio Light Opera  ... 
    CD: $7.49
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  • 16.
    Haydn: Creation / Somary, Amorartis, Harris, Halvorson, Etc
    Label: Newport Classic   Catalog: 85627 Release Date: 03/17/1998   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn
    Performer:  Brenda Harris,  Carl Halvorson,  John Cheek
    Conductor:  Johannes Somary
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amor Artis Orchestra,  Fairfield County Chorale
    On sale! $36.98
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  • 17.
    Schoenberg: Gurre-lieder / Mehta, Lakes, Marton, Quivar
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 48077 Release Date: 02/27/1998   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg
    Performer:  Eva Martón,  Florence Quivar,  Hans Hotter,  Jon Garrison  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  New York Choral Artists
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  • 18.
    Puccini: Tosca / Levine, Scotto, Domingo
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 66504 Release Date: 09/30/1997   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  John Cheek,  Paul Hudson,  Placido Domingo,  Renato Capecchi  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Clement Danes Grammar School Boys Choir,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Ambrosian Opera Chorus
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  • 19.
    Absolute Heaven / Robert Shaw, Atlanta So & Chorus, Et Al
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80458 Release Date: 04/29/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler,  Hector Berlioz,  Franz Schubert,  Pietro Mascagni  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Sylvester,  William Stone,  Marietta Simpson,  Heidi Grant Murphy  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Shaw
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tampa Bay Master Chorale,  University of South Florida Chorus members,  Ohio State University Choir  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 20.
    Mozart: Requiem / Somary, Haywood, Fortunato, Romano, Cheek
    Label: Vox Classics   Catalog: 7534 Release Date: 11/01/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Lorna Haywood,  D'Anna Fortunato,  Patrick Romano,  John Cheek
    Conductor:  Johannes Somary
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amor Artis Orchestra,  Amor Artis Chorale
    CD not available
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  • 21.
    Haydn: The Creation / Revzen, Dawson, Rosenshein, Et Al
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 5/6 Release Date: 07/06/1995   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn
    Performer:  Neil Rosenshein,  Lynne Dawson,  John Cheek
    Conductor:  Joel Revzen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Paul Chamber Orchestra,  Minnesota Chorale
    On sale! $41.98
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  • 22.
    Dvorák: Stabat Mater, Etc / Macal, New Jersey Symphony
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3161 Release Date: 09/20/1994   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Antonín Dvorák
    Performer:  Manfred Hemm,  John Aler,  Claudine Carlson,  John Cheek  ... 
    Conductor:  Zdenek Macal
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Jersey Symphony Orchestra,  Westminster Choir
    CD: $24.99
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  • 23.
    Paine: Mass In D / Schuller, Saint Louis Symphony
    Label: New World Records   Catalog: 80262 Release Date: 12/08/1992   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  John Knowles Paine
    Performer:  John Cheek,  Vinson Cole,  Carmen Balthrop,  Joy Blackett
    Conductor:  Gunther Schuller
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Louis Symphony Orchestra,  St. Louis Symphony Chorus
    On sale! $41.98
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  • 24.
    Haydn: The Creation / Shaw, Atlanta So & Chorus
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80298 Release Date: 10/27/1992   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn
    Performer:  Heidi Grant Murphy,  Jon Humphrey,  James Michael McGuire,  John Cheek  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Shaw
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,  Atlanta Symphony Chamber Chorus
    On sale! $26.98
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  • 25.
    Classics - Berlioz: Requiem;  Boïto, Verdi / Shaw, Atlanta
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80109 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Hector Berlioz,  Arrigo Boito
    Performer:  John Aler,  John Cheek
    Conductor:  Robert Shaw
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Chorus,  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,  Young Singers of Calanwolde  ... 
    Recommendation
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