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Simon O'Neill

Simon O'Neill (Tenor)

Born: 1971, Ashburton, New Zealand

Nationality: New Zealand-born

Artist's website:

Simon O’Neill was born in Ashburton, New Zealand in 1971, studying at the University of Otago, Victoria University of Wellington, the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard Opera Center. Early roles included Mozart’s Idomeneo and Tito, Rodolfo in La bohème and the Chevalier de la Force in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmelites, but by the mid-2000s he was increasingly in demand for dramatic repertoire: in 2004 he understudied Placido Domingo as Siegmund at the Metropolitan Opera (he would go on to sing the role at Covent Garden, where engagements have also included Lohengrin, Walther von Stoltzing and Parsifal), and debuted at Bayreuth (as Lohengrin) in 2010. His repertoire also includes Florestan in Fidelio, Cavaradossi in Tosca, Sergei in Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, and the title-role in Otello, which he recorded with Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra in 2009 (‘a tremendous debut…the best heroic tenor to emerge over the last decade’ – The Daily Telegraph).

O’Neill’s discography includes the title-role in Siegfried on Jaap van Zweden’s ‘Hong Kong Ring Cycle’ (‘O’Neill’s steely, bright-toned heldentenor encompasses this killer part with deceptive ease’ – BBC Music Magazine), Max in Weber’s Der Freischütz on LSO Live, and Father and Son – an all-Wagner recital on EMI Classics from 2010, which was described by The Observer as ‘an exciting calling card from a singer with every chance of a big Wagnerian future.’

Further Reading: Simon O'Neill

Recording of the Week, Janáček's Katya Kabanova from Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra

Amanda Majeski is riveting as the doomed heroine grasping for happiness in the face of a loveless marriage (and a monstrous mother-in-law) in provincial Russia, with Rattle expertly balancing the score's elemental power and claustrophobic intensity.

Recording of the Week, Weber's Der Freischütz from Sir Colin Davis and the LSO

Fresh, full-bodied and raucous when required, the conductor’s final opera recording is a fitting valedictory tribute to a great man, with Christine Brewer on sublime form as Agathe and Simon O’Neill a steely and secure Max.

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