{ "" }
Share ROBERT's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Robert "Bob" Orth, 72, a celebrated operatic baritone and a champion of new American opera, passed away on July 12, 2019 in Libertyville, Illinois. A versatile performer, Mr. Orth was known for his ability to bring his characters to life with his emotive voice, strong acting skills, impeccable comedic timing and graceful movements. He sometimes capped off his arias by sinking into the full splits while singing. Mr. Orth's career spanned more than four decades. He sang with major opera companies in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Houston, San Diego, as well as with numerous regional companies, including a notable run with Central City Opera in Colorado, where he appeared regularly from 1983 to 2016. He was named Artist of the Year by Seattle Opera and by New York City Opera. In 2012 he sang at the Royal Albert Hall in London, performing the role of Richard Nixon in John Adams' Nixon in China. Robert Orth was born in 1947 in Chicago to Carl and Betty Orth. With his three brothers - Skip, Dale and Leonard - Mr. Orth moved from Illinois to Texas and Montana, where his father was a founder of Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch. Mr. Orth later attended Wheaton College before making a home in Chicago's suburbs and raising two sons, Zak and Josh. Mr. Orth started singing in churches and school choirs at a young age. After college, he spent nine years teaching music in public schools in Chicago's suburbs while doing summer stock during his time off. In 1974, Mr. Orth quit teaching to pursue singing full-time, a move his wife Jane recalls as "very brave." Known as Bob to his family and friends, Mr. Orth is survived by Jane, his wife of 50 years; his sons Zak and Josh; and his granddaughters Arden and Sadie. A visitation will begin at 5:00 p.m. followed by a celebration of Robert Orth at 7:00 p.m. Friday, July 26, 2019 at First Presbyterian Church, 219 W. Maple Ave., Libertyville, IL. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Young Musician's Choral Orchestra, Music Department of First Presbyterian Church or White Helmets, Arrangements by Burnett-Dane Funeral Home in Libertyville. For info, 847-362-3009.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Daily Herald on Jul. 16, 2019.
05:00 - 07:00 PM
Celebration of Life
07:00 PM
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Daily Herald
Not sure what to say?
View Printed Guest Book
23 entries
May 23, 2020
I was sorry to learn about this just now, and offer my condolences to his family. My husband and I greatly enjoyed Mr. Orths performances at Chicago Opera Theater when we lived in the area.
Patricia L. Callis
August 18, 2019
My sympathy to the Orth family. Bob was such a talent... always a blessing to have him home in Libertyville.
Bj Bauer, Meridian, Idaho
Bj Bauer
August 9, 2019
Dear Jane - My late husband, Jim and I remember you and Bob from Wheaton College Concert Choir. Bob was a fine person and an amazing musician. I will be thinking of you and praying for you and your family in the days ahead.
Martye Shuster Lowery
July 27, 2019
Our hearts go out to your family at this time of grief..we were always so privileged to hear Bob's voice in the Libertyville Choir and to simply be in his presence at OGAMFAH each September. How he surely did light up the stage. What a voice and what a personality! our prayers are with you- not only now -but in the many days and weeks to come.
Sincerely, John and Jinny Tennant, Crown Point, Indiana
Virginia Tennant
July 25, 2019
Cherished Friend Bouquet- VASE INCLUDED
Send Flowers and Gifts
Sympathy Gift courtesy of
Harold France
July 25, 2019
Bob was such a talented and fun person. He added so much to our Wheaton College 50th reunion by leading us in singing. I will miss him very much. May God comfort you, Jane.
July 22, 2019
Dear Jane and family,
I knew Bob as a student at Wheaton (as you know, Jane) where his talent was obvious to us all. May your memories comfort. He is sure to be missed.
With love,
Bea (Boutwell) Readel
July 20, 2019
In 1984, as an usher at Central City Opera, I witnessed Bob Orth literally bring the house down singing Dandini's entrance aria in La Cenerentola. Offstage, he accomplished the same, demolishing company hierarchical distinctions: in his presence, we were all equals. I recall also that Bob sang that summer at Denver area church services.

As a member of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra Chorus and Opera Colorado Chorus, I treasured subsequent opportunities to reconnect with this generous artist. Bob, you remain a role model.
Karen Gasser
July 19, 2019
On behalf of Rimrock Opera, Billings Montana, we would like to express our sadness for your loss. We remember Bob singing at an early fundraiser "Opera Under the Stars." We all greatly appreciated his talent, gifts and generosity.
Lucinda Butler
July 19, 2019
The last time I saw Bob was at church. He left his chair and came across the vestibule and gave me a big smile, a hug, and a kiss. He always had time for friends. That's the way I will always remember him. Harriet Donndelinger
July 19, 2019
When Bob attended performances in Chicago (as he often did) he made every usher, coat check attendant, and fellow patron feel like the most interesting person and the most important individual in the room. What a wonderful gift and it was so obvious that it was from his heart. I heard/saw him on the stage many times and each show was from a man who was in love with what he was doing.
Richard Boyum
July 18, 2019
Rest in peace. John Schmid, Chorus Master, Indianapolis Opera and IO Chorus
John Schmid
July 18, 2019
Rest in peace. John Schmid, Chorus Master, Indianapolis Opera and IO Chorus
John Schmid
July 18, 2019
To the memory of my cousin Robert "Bob" Orth, a great artist who had a complete love of life and art.
Paul Thompson
July 17, 2019
The world in general is a less artistic place without you, sir. Heaven rest you.
July 17, 2019
Dorothy Byrne
July 17, 2019
Such a talent and such a lovely man. I had the opportunity to work with Bob in several important theatres and always relished our time together...
July 16, 2019
Jerry and I were shocked to see Bob's name in the obituaries today. We had no idea he had been ill. We have such fond memories of the beautiful music he provided at church, in the opera, at parties, etc. Our prayers and sympathy are with Jane, Zak, and Josh and all the family.
Jan and Jerry Seiler
July 16, 2019
So sorry to hear of the loss of this vibrant, fun man. I always enjoyed my time singing or just being with Bob and his wife, Jane. My thoughts are with Jane and his Family.
July 16, 2019
It is with great sadness to learn of Bob's passing as he was such an inspiration in every part of his life. As my stepbrother, I was always overcome with emotion at his talent and abilities. My prayers are with you Jane and family at this time.
Betti and Bill Riel
July 16, 2019
Brunch with Bob Orth and Michael Ehrman March 2019.<br />A joyful day.
Bob was my friend and colleague since 1978. His unique and individual talent epitomized the concept of a singing actor. He was one of the most gifted people I've worked with, a consummate professional in every sense of the word. He handled his battle with cancer with dignity, courage and his superb sense of humor. People throughout the musical world mourn his passing and the loss of his laugh. My heart goes out to his family, his wife Jane and sons Zak and Josh. I am so sorry for your loss. Love, Hal
Hal France
July 16, 2019
Betti Riel
July 16, 2019
I am so sorry for the loss of your loved one. May the words of John 6:40 bring you comfort.
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences