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Simon O'Neill


Simon O'Neill


A native of New Zealand, Simon O'Neill has established himself as one of the finest helden-tenors on the international stage. He has frequently performed with the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Berlin, Hamburg and Bayerische Staatsopern, Teatro alla Scala and the Bayreuth, Salzburg, Edinburgh and BBC Proms Festivals, appearing with a number of illustrious conductors including Daniel Barenboim, Sir Simon Rattle, James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Valery Gergiev, Sir Antonio Pappano, Pietari Inkinen, Pierre Boulez, Sir Mark Elder, Sir Colin Davis, Simone Young, Edo de Waart, Fabio Luisi, Donald Runnicles, Sir Simon Rattle, Thomas Hengelbrock, Jaap Van Zweden and Christian Thielemann.

Simon's performances as Siegmund in Die Walküre at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden with Pappano, Teatro alla Scala and Berlin Staatsoper with Barenboim, at the Metropolitan Opera with Runnicles in the celebrated Otto Schenk production returning with Luisi in the Lepage Ring Cycle and in the Götz Friedrich production at Deutsche Oper Berlin with Rattle were performed to wide critical acclaim. He was described in the international press as "an exemplary Siegmund, terrific of voice", "THE Wagnerian tenor of his generation" and "a turbo-charged tenor".

During this season's engagements Simon makes his debut at both Tanglewood with the Boston Symphony and Andris Nelsons; the Toronto Symphony with Sir Andrew Davis and the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana with Henrik Nánási as Siegmund in concert performances of Die Walküre. Simon returns to stage productions with Oper Leipzig under Ulf Schirmer, the Bayerischer Staatsoper under Kirill Petrenko and Berlin Staatsoper with Daniel Barenboim.

Simon makes his debut with the Hallé Orchestra in the title role of Wagner's Siegfried with Sir Mark Elder in performances at both the Edinburgh Festival and in Manchester and returns to the Wiener Staatsoper as Parsifal. Simon also makes important role debuts; Calaf in Turandot in Barcelona; and Der Kaiser in Die Frau ohne Schatten at the Berliner Staatsoper. Simon is delighted to make his staged role debut as the title role of Siegfried in the 2021 new Stefan Herheim/Donald Runnicles production for Deutsche Oper Berlin.

On the concert stage, Simon performs Mahler's Symphony No.8 at the Edinburgh Festival and the Baltic Festival with Daniel Harding; the BBC Proms with Thomas Søndergård and in Paris with Valery Gergiev; Gürrelieder with the Spanish National Orchestra in Madrid with David Afkham; Janacek's Glagolitic Mass under Pietari Inkinen in Prague and also with the Berliner Staatskapelle under Sir Simon Rattle. He will also perform Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde in Paris with Gergiev, Prague with Rattle and in Berlin with Robin Ticciati.

Simon takes great delight in performing in his native New Zealand. This season he will perform in a national tour of Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra; Beethoven Symphony No. 9 and also as tenor soloist with the Christchurch City Choir and to celebrate the Auckland Choral Society's Centenary performances of Handel's Messiah. Simon makes his Decca label debut with pianist, Terence Dennis with the release of their lieder recording of works by Beethoven, Schumann, Strauss and Wagner launching the disc in recital with Dallas Opera.

Notable debuts have included; the Royal Opera House (2005) Jenik in The Bartered Bride with Mackerras, the Salzburg Festival (2005) in Die Zauberflöte with Muti, the Metropolitan Opera (2006) as the Gran Sacerdote in Idomeneo with Levine, Opera Australia (2009) as Sergei in Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk with Armstrong, Siegmund in Die Walküre at Teatro alla Scala (2010) with Barenboim and the Bayerische Staatsoper with Nagano (2013), Chairman Mao in Nixon in China with Renes with the San Francisco Opera (2012), and the Wiener Staatsoper (2012) in the title role of Parsifal with Thielemann.

Simon made his Bayreuth Festival debut in the title of Lohengrin in the new Hans Neuenfels production with Andris Nelsons and returned as Parsifal in the celebrated Stefan Herheim production with Daniele Gatti.

Recent engagements have included opening La Scala's season as Siegmund in Die Walküre with Barenboim, the Wiener Staatsoper with Welser-Möst, his return as Siegmund in the celebrated Keith Warner Ring Cycle, Lohengrin, Fidelio, Stolzing in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and the title role of Parsifal in the Stephen Langridge production at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Siegfried in the Jaap van Zweden Ring Cycle, the Tambourmajor in Wozzeck with Levine at the Metropolitan Opera, Erik in Der Fliegende Holländer at the Ravinia Festival with Conlon and the Chicago Symphony, Cavaradossi in Tosca in Tokyo, Berlin, Hamburg and New Zealand, Fidelio and Die Walküre at Houston Grand Opera and Hamburg Staatsoper. Simon also made his debut in the role of Siegfried in concert performances of Götterdämmerung with the Orquesta Sinfonica Galicia, reprised Parsifal with the Balthasar-Neumann Ensemble and Hengelbrock at Teatro Real Madrid and returned to Opera Australia and Houston Grand Opera as Verdi's Otello.

At extremely short notice Simon made his debut in the title role of Verdi's Otello in concert at the Barbican with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Colin Davis (2009). His performance was widely acclaimed by critics, who described his musical and dramatic portrayal of the infamous protagonist as “thrilling”, “a triumph”, “an immense performance” “a tremendous debut in the title-role, giving notice that he is the best heroic tenor to emerge over the last decade.”

Simon has appeared in many of the world's leading concert halls including Carnegie Hall for Das Lied von der Erde with Levine and The Met Orchestra and Missa Solemnis with the Boston Symphony, he made his debut with the the New York Philharmonic in concert performances of Die Walküre with Jaap Van Zweden, Florestan in Fidelio at both the Salzburg Festival and BBC Proms with Barenboim and with the National Symphony Orchestra and Eschenbach at the Kennedy Center, Gurrelieder in the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall adn Edinburgh Festival, Das Lied von der Erde, Fidelio and Parsifal in concert at Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia with Pappano and Gatti, Parsifal Act 3 with Nelsons and the Bayerischer Rundfunks Orchestra at the Munich Herkulesaal, Der Freischütz with Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra, Janacek's Glagolitic Mass with Dutoit at Tokyo's NHK Hall and with Boulez in the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, Mahler's Symphony No.8 at the Sydney Opera House with Ashkenazy and Beethoven's Symphony No.9 for the reopening of London's Royal Festival Hall. He also had the honour of touring Europe with Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra performing Act I Die Walküre in concert, performing complete the Ring Cycle with the Staatskapelle Berlin with Barenboim at the BBC Proms and Act 1 in concert with the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle at the Philharmonie. Simon made his debut with the New York Philharmonic has Siegmund in Die Walküre Act one in concert with Jaap van Zweden.

Multi Grammy nominated, his discography includes his debut solo award winning album; Father and Son, Wagner Scenes and Arias (Lohengrin, Parsifal, Siegmund and Siegfried) with Pietari Inkinen and the NZSO for EMI, the title role of Siegfried in the Jaap van Zweden Ring Cycle recording for Naxos, the title role of Parsifal on Blu-ray and DVD with Sir Antonio Pappano from Covent Garden, the title role of Otello and Max in Der Freischütz with Sir Colin Davis for LSO Live, Die Walküre on Blu-ray and DVD with Daniel Barenboim from La Scala, Die Zauberflöte for the Salzburg Festival Mozart 25 DVD with Riccardo Muti, Mahler's Symphony No.8 with Vladimir Ashkenanzy and the Sydney Symphony, Beethoven Symphony No.9 with Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie and Paavo Järvi and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra with Kent Nagano, Frank Martin's Der Sturm with the Netherlands Radio Symphony and Thierry Fischer, Chauson's Le Roi Arthus with Leon Botstein and the BBC Symphony Orchestra and most recently Voices of German Opera from EMI.

Simon became an Officer of New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2017 Queen's Birthday Honours list, he is an alumnus and holds a Doctor of Music (Honoris Causa) from Victoria University of Wellington and is an alumnus of the University of Otago, the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard Opera Center. He is a Fulbright Scholar, was awarded the 2005 Arts Laureate of New Zealand and was a grand finalist in the 2002 Metropolitan Opera National Auditions returning as guest artist in 2007. He also appears on the 1998 New Zealand one-dollar performing arts postage stamp.

Photo © Lisa Kohler