Robert Dean Smith was born in Kansas, USA, and studied singing with Margaret Thuenemann at Pittsburg State University and subsequently with Daniel Ferro at New York’s Juilliard School of Music. At the same time he learnt the saxophone and played in various classical and jazz ensembles. Like many heldentenors, he began his career as a baritone. His first professional engagement was in Bielefeld, where his roles included Valentin in Gounod’s Faust and Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia. In 1984 Robert Dean Smith was awarded the Bielefeld Opera Thaler by the city’s theatre- and concert-goers. After early engagements in Bielefeld, Wiesbaden, Kassel and Bremen, he joined the Wiesbaden National Theatre in 1995 and since then has sung all the major heldentenor parts, enjoying particular success as Parsifal in 1997. This was also the year of his Bayreuth Festival début as Walther von Stolzing in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, a début that marked his international breakthrough. Since then Robert Dean Smith has appeared in all the leading opera houses and concert halls in the world. He is in particular demand in heldentenor roles in operas such as Tristan und Isolde, Parsifal, Lohengrin, Die Walküre, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Ariadne auf Naxos and Die Frau ohne Schatten. He appears regularly in Vienna, Munich, London, New York, Paris, Milan, San Francisco, Madrid, Berlin, Hamburg, Barcelona, Rome, Los Angeles and Tokyo, working with conductors of the eminence of Zubin Mehta, Antonio Pappano, James Levine, Christian Thielemann, Riccardo Muti, Daniel Barenboim, Lorin Maazel, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Pierre Boulez, Christoph von Dohnányi, Bernard Haitink, Daniele Gatti and Kent Nagano.
He returned to Bayreuth in 2000 and 2001 as Walther von Stolzing and Lohengrin. In 2001 he added Siegmund to his roles at the Festival and followed these up with Tristan in 2005, a role he
repeated in 2006, 2008 and again in 2009.