Richard Gill left Harvard in 1971 and spent the next decade and a half as an opera singer. He made his debut as principal artist (bass) with the New York City Opera , his roles there including Sarastro (The Magic Flute), Enrico (Anna Bolena), Sir Giorgio (I Puritani), Seneca (Poppea), Colline (La Boheme), Pogner (Die Meistersinger), and others.
He made his debut with the Metropolitan Opera in 1973. His roles there included Pimen (Boris Godunov), Friar Laurence (Romeo et Juliette), Timur (Turandot), Iero (Siege of Corinth), Commendatore (Don Giovanni), and others.
He appeared as principal artist with the opera companies of Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Boston, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Caracas. Toronto, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, and many others. He was in several world premieres including Philip Glass's Satyagraha.
He also appeared as a soloist with symphony orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic (under Leonard Bernstein), the Boston Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, and many others. His radio appearances included several Texaco Metropolitan broadcasts, Chicago Lyric broadcasts, and broadcasts of the New York City Opera, New York Philharmonic, and Radio France, Paris. He also appeared in a telecast of Joan of Arc produced by the Canadian National Opera.
While a singer, he was elected to the Board of Governors and subsequently First Vice President of the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA), the principal union for classical operatic singers, ballet dancers, and stage directors in the United States.