This estimable basso cantante has achieved international fame while devoting himself to a wisely chosen repertory that embraces roles in Italian, French, German, Russian, and, of course, English. Robert Lloyd became the first British bass to sing Boris Godunov at Covent Garden, and since that 1983 production, he has performed the role in St. Petersburg, Amsterdam, Florence, and Vienna. His solid, long-ranged voice has remained in near-prime form as he continued to sing leading roles into his early 60s. His Narbal in the Metropolitan Opera's 2003 production of Berlioz's Les troyens was a model of steady, imposing bass singing.
After studies at Oxford University, Lloyd entered his working life as a teacher of history. During vocal training with Otakar Kraus, Covent Garden's famous dramatic baritone, Lloyd resolved at age 28 to pursue a singing career. His debut took place with a university opera society, and within four years, he was a principal bass at Covent Garden, a relationship that has continued into the twenty-first century. Among his many memorable portrayals there, his Filippo and Padre Guardiano are well remembered. The Glyndebourne Festival welcomed him in 1972, Paris and San Francisco heard him for the first time in 1975. Since then, Lloyd has appeared in numerous European theaters, including the Staatsoper Berlin and at Salzburg, and has been a valued artist at both Chicago and New York. To the French and Italian roles of his earlier years, Lloyd has added several Wagner roles. His Gurnemanz has been heard in several theaters, as has his King Marke. He has been regarded as a leading Sarastro in recent times and for Seneca in L'Incoronazione di Poppea, he provides commanding sound and strong low notes. Among his roles in the operas of Britten, his Swallow, Superintendent Budd in Albert Herring, and Bottom (all recorded) have received high praise from critics. In addition to his stage work, Lloyd has been much in-demand for concerts, singing and recording several oratorios with the most respected conductors of the day; his recordings of choral works by Elgar have proven especially rewarding. The bass has also appeared in several acclaimed television programs, one of them devoted to his own career. In 1991, Lloyd was named a Commander of the British Empire.