Sir Simon Keenlyside

Sir Simon Keenlyside is one of the world’s most sought after and charismatic singers, noted for his versatility and highly charged performances on stage.

© Robert Workman


Simon Keenlyside received a knighthood in the 2018 Birthday Honours and, in 2017, was awarded the title of Austrian Kammersänger by the Wiener Staatsoper. In 2011 he was named Musical America’s Vocalist of the Year, in 2007 he won the ECHO Klassik Male Singer of the Year Award and, in 2006, he was recipient of the Olivier Award for outstanding achievement in Opera.

Sir Simon’s 2018/19 season includes the title roles in Don Giovanni and Rigoletto at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich; Germont Père La traviata and Ford Falstaff at the Wiener Staatsoper; Count Almaviva Le nozze di Figaro for the Royal Opera and Wolfram Tannhäuser at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin. On the concert platform, Sir Simon will perform with the Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst; the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Jérémie Rhorer and with the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra at the Vienna Konzerthaus under Ryan Wigglesworth.

A renowned recitalist, Sir Simon appears regularly in the world’s major recital venues, this season, giving recitals in Vancouver, Quebec, Washington DC, Atlanta, Schenectady, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Strasbourg, Amsterdam, Vienna and London in partnership with Malcolm Martineau, Emanuel Ax, Natalia Katyukova and Julius Drake.

Performance Schedule

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    19:30 23 May 2019 Severance Hall, USA

    Baritone: Sir Simon Keenlyside
    Conductor: Franz Welser-Möst
    Orchestra: Cleveland Orchestra

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    20:00 25 May 2019 Severance Hall, USA

    Baritone: Sir Simon Keenlyside
    Conductor: Franz Welser-Möst
    Orchestra: Cleveland Orchestra

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    19:00 25 Jun 2019 Wigmore Hall, LONDON

    ROBERT SCHUMANN Arabesque in C major, Op. 18
    ROBERT SCHUMANN Piano Quartet in Eb major, Op. 47
    ROBERT SCHUMANN Fantasiestücke Op.12
    ROBERT SCHUMANN Dichterliebe (Heine) Op. 48 (16 songs)
    ROBERT SCHUMANN Piano Quintet in E flat major Op. 44

    Baritone: Sir Simon Keenlyside
    Piano: Emanuel Ax
    Quartet: The Dover Quartet

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    19:30 26 Jul 2019 Wigmore Hall, LONDON

    Baritone: Sir Simon Keenlyside
    Piano: Matthew Regan
    Woodwind: Howard McGill
    Trombone: Gordon Campbell
    Double bass: Richard Pryce
    Drums: Mike Smith

From The Green Room


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    Brahms Requiem

    Label: Clasart Classic

    Release Date: 20 Jan 17

    The Cleveland Orchestra
    Conductor: Franz Welser-Möst

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    Something's gotta give

    Label: Chandos Records

    Release Date: 07 Nov 14

    Baritone: Simon Keenlyside
    Vocalist: Scarlett Strallen
    Conductor: David Charles Abell
    BBC Concert Orchestra

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    Verdi 'Macbeth'

    Label: Chandos Records

    Release Date: 31 Mar 14

    Macbeth: Simon Keenlyside

    Lady Macbeth: Latonia Moore

    Banquo: Brindley Sherratt

    Macduff: Gwyn Hughes Jones

    Malcolm: Ben Johnson

    Conductor: Edward Gardner
    English National Opera Orchestra

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    Tchaikovsky 'Eugene Onegin'

    Label: Opus Arte

    Release Date: 04 Sep 13

    Conductor: Robert Ticciati

    Director: Kasper Holten
    Tatyana: Krassimira Stoyanova
    Eugene Onegin: Simon Keenlyside
    Olga: Elena Maximova
    Lensky: Pavol Breslik
    Prince Gremin: Peter Rose
    Madame Larina: Diana Montague

    Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House


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    Adès 'The Tempest'

    Label: Deutsche Grammophon

    Release Date: 16 Aug 13

    Best Opera Recording (2014 Grammy Awards)
    Music DVD Recording of the Year (2014 Echo Klassik Awards)

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    Britten 'War Requiem'

    Label: LSO Live

    Release Date: 08 May 12

    Soprano: Sabina Cvilak

    Baritone: Simon Keenlyside
    Tenor: Ian Bostridge
    Conductor: Gianandrea Noseda
    London Symphony Orchestra & Chorus

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    Mendelssohn 'Elijah'

    Label: Winged Lion Records

    Release Date: 28 Aug 12

    Simon Keenlyside sings the title role in Mendelssohn’s Elijah under Paul McCreesh with the Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir and Gabrieli Consort Players

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    Verdi 'Macbeth'

    Label: Opus Arte

    Release Date: 31 Jan 12

    Conductor: Antonio Pappano

    Director: Philippa Lloyd

    Macbeth: Simon Keenlyside
    Banquo: Raymond Aceto
    Lady Macbeth: Liudmyla Monastyrska
    Lady-in-Waiting: Elisabeth Meister
    Servant to Macbeth: Nigel Cliffe
    Duncan: Ian Lindsay
    Malcolm: Steven Ebel
    Macduff: Dimitri Pittas
    Fleance: Will Richardson

    Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House
    Recorded live at The Royal Opera House, 13 June, 2011

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    Songs of War

    Label: Sony Classical

    Release Date: 07 Nov 11

    This English song disc received the 2012 Solo Vocal Gramophone Award
    Baritone: Simon Keenlyside
    Piano: Malcolm Martineau

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    Dein ist mein ganzes herz

    Label: Sony Classical

    Release Date: 17 Aug 11

    An operetta disc with Simon Keenlyside and Angelika Kirchschlager.

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    Gounod 'Faust'

    Label: Warner Classic

    Release Date: 07 Sep 10

    Conductor: Antonio Pappano

    Director: David McVicar

    Marguerite: Angela Gheorghiu

    Faust: Roberto Alagna

    Mephistopeles: Bryn Terfel

    Valentin: Simon Keenlyside

    Siebel: Sophie Koch

    Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House

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    Verdi 'Don Carlo'

    Label: EMI Classics

    Release Date: 13 Sep 10

    Conductor: Antonio Pappano

    Director: Nicholas Hytner

    Don Carlo: Rolando Villazón
    Elisabetta di Valois: Marina Poplavskaya
    Rodrigo: Simon Keenlyside
    Philip II: Ferruccio Furlanetto
    Princess Eboli: Sonia Ganassi
    Tebaldo: Pumeza Matshikiza
    Conte di Lerma: Nikola Matišic
    Grand Inquisitor: Eric Halfvarson

    Orchestra & Chorus of the Royal Opera House


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    Adès 'The Tempest'

    Label: Emi Classics

    Release Date: 01 Dec 09

    Prospero: Simon Keenlyside

    Miranda: Kate Royal

    Ariel: Cyndia Sieden

    Ferdinand: Toby Spence

    Alonso: Philip Langridge

    Conductor: Thomas Adès

    Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

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    Schumann & Brahms Lieder

    Label: Sony Classical

    Release Date: 01 Apr 09

    Baritone: Simon Keenlyside
    Piano: Malcolm Martineau

    A disc of Schumann and Brahms Lieder

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    Schubert, Wolf, Faure & Ravel

    Label: Wigmore Hall Live

    Release Date: 26 Oct 08

    Baritone: Simon Keenlyside
    Piano: Malcolm Martineau

    A disc of Schubert, Wolf, Faure and Ravel

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    Tales of Opera

    Label: Sony BMG

    Release Date: 01 Dec 07

    Baritone: Simon Keenlyside
    Conductor: Ulf Schirmer
    Münchner Rundfunkorchester

    A disc of opera arias by Rossini, Massenet, Verdi, Bellini, Mozart and Wagner.

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    Monteverdi 'L'Orfeo'

    Label: Harmonia Munid

    Release Date: 09 Jan 07

    Conductor: Rene Jacobs
    Director: Trisha Brown
    Orfeo: Simon Keenlyside
    Euridice, Musica Echo: Junanita Lascarro
    Messagiera: Junita Lascarro
    Prosperina: Martina Dike
    Speranza, Pastore: Stephen Wallace
    Plutone: Tomas Tomassom
    Caronte, Pastore: Paul Gerimon
    Apollo: Mauro Ultzeri
    Ninfa: Anne Cambier
    Orchestra and Chorus de la Monnaie

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    Strauss Favourtie Lieder

    Label: Emi classics

    Release Date: 01 Mar 04

    Baritone: Simon Keenlyside

    Piano: Malcolm Martineau

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    Schubert Favourite Lieder

    Label: Emi Classics

    Release Date: 01 Sep 03

    Baritone: Simon Keenlyside

    Piano: Malcolm Martineau

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    The English songs series Vol 3: Vaughan Williams

    Label: Collins Classics

    Release Date: 18 Feb 03

    Counter-Tenor: Anthony Rolfe Costanzo

    Baritone: Simon Keenlyside

    Piano: Graham Johnson

    The Duke Quartet

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    Mahler 'Eight lieder from Des Knaben Wunderhorn'

    Label: Emi Classics

    Release Date: 05 Oct 98

    Conductor: Simon Rattle

    Baritone: Simon Keenlyside

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    07 Jul 18 Verdi Falstaff
    Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

    “Simon Keenlyside’s Ford is also wonderfully sung”

    ★★★★ Barry Millington, Evening Standard Arts, 09 July 2018

    “Simon Keenlyside has fun with Ford’s bluster, and sings his jealousy monologue expertly.”

    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 08 July 2018

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    01 Jun 18 Mozart Don Giovanni
    Grand Théâtre de Genève

    “Depuis trente ans qu’il interprète le rôle sur toutes les plus grandes scènes internationales, Sir Simon Keenlyside continue d’être, à bientôt soixante ans, le plus enthousiasmant des Don Giovanni : un Don athlétique, facétieux et désabusé à la fois… Son charisme se double d’un aplomb vocal saisissant, le baryton britannique conférant une vibrante intensité à chacune de ses phrases… L’effet est toujours calculé au plus juste, laissant l’auditeur imaginer ce que pourrait être un véritable accès de colère ou une déclaration d’amour brûlante de passion. Pareille maîtrise du pianissimo complice et de l’appoggiature friponne caractérise la supériorité souveraine de Keenlyside sur tous ses rivaux actuels.”

    “After thirty years interpreting the role on all the biggest international stages, Sir Simon Keenlyside, almost sixty years old, remains the most thrilling Don Giovanni: an athletic Don, facetious and disillusioned at the same time… His charisma doubles up as gripping vocal self-confidence, the British baritone lending a vibrant intensity to each of his phrases… The effect is always calculated as precisely as possible, leaving the listener to imagine what could be a genuine fit of anger or declaration of love burning with passion. His mastery of both a conniving pianissimo and a mischievous appogiatura characterises Keenlyside’s supreme superiority over all his current rivals.”

    Emmanuel Andrieu, Opera Online, 15 June 2018

    “Portée par un extraordinaire Simon Keenlyside dans le rôle-titre, la production du Grand Théâtre séduit.

    Le baryton… a été renversant et dévastateur dans le rôle-titre, tant sur le versant vocal que dans l’incarnation habitée du collectionneur de conquêtes…Dans les mouvements sur les planches…on reconnaît le génie de sa personification…Servi par une voix puissante et claire et par une diction parfaite”

    “Carried by an extraordinary Simon Keenlyside in the title-role, the Grand Théâtre production seduces.

    The baritone… was astounding and devastating in the title-role, as much on the vocal side as in the accustomed embodiment of the collector of conquests… In his movements across the boards…you can see the genius behind his characterisation… Possessor of a powerful and clear voice and perfect diction”

    Rocco Zacheo, Tribune de Genève, 02 June 2018

    “Si la scénographie est relativement statique, elle permet de mettre l’accent tout naturellement sur ce Don Giovanni superbement incarné par Simon Keenlyside, époustouflant. Dès les premiers instants, son visage blême, sa voix impérieuse, son physique impressionnant, animal, en font un prédateur de première catégorie. Le choix du metteur en scène est d’explorer cette animalité, et Simon Keenlyside s’y donne à cœur joie, offrant un Don Giovanni vocalement superlatif, scéniquement investi, qui se rit de la morale”

    “If the scenography was a little static, it did allow for the emphasis to fall naturally on this breathtaking Don Giovanni, portrayed magnificently by Simon Keenlyside. From the very first moments, his pallid face, commanding voice and imposing, animalistic physique made him a predator of the highest order. The director chose to explore this animality and Simon Keenlyside had a field day, presenting a vocally exceptional, theatrically invested Don Giovanni who laughs in the face of morality”

    ★★★★ Thomas Muller, Bachtrack, 04 June 2018

    “Simon Keenlyside promène son Don Giovanni avec constance depuis des années, son timbre chaleureux, coloré, son style impeccable, son phrasé modèle sont des guaranties… La voix a toujours ses qualités, la présence est toujours forte… Grand artiste.”

    “Simon Keenlyside has been treading the boards as Don Giovanni consistently for years. His warm, colourful timbre, impeccable style and model phrasing are guarantees… His voice still retains its qualities, his presence is still strong. A real artist.”

    Guy Cherqui, Wanderer, 22 June 2018

    “Le baryton irlandais pousse le rôle-titre à ses limites dans un jeu décomplexé et électrique. Sa voix? Elle conserve une prestance et une projection magnifiquement maîtrisée… Simon Keenlyside a tout pour camper le rôle.”

    “The Irish baritone pushes the title-role to its limits in an uninhibited, electric performance. His voice retains presence and a magnificently mastered projection… Simon Keenlyside has everything to embody the role.”

    Sylvie Bonier, Le Temps, 04 June 2018

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    03 May 18 Verdi Rigoletto
    Deutsche Oper Berlin

    “Simon Keenlyside est à présent revenu à son plus haut niveau et si l’incarnation du personnage fascine toujours autant, le chanteur passionne également lorsqu’il ouvre la bouche, notamment dans les moments graves, dont l’air Cortigiani, vil razza dannata et son touchant finale.”

    “Simon Keenlyside is now back at his highest level, and if his embodiment of the character still captivates just as much, the singer is equally enthralling as soon as he opens his mouth, notably in lower moments such as in the Cortigiani, vil razza dannata air and in his moving finale.”

    Vincent Guillemin, ResMusica, 15 May 2018

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    02 Dec 17 Leoncavallo Pagliacci
    Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

    “The outstanding performance here, however, was that of another Covent Garden absentee – Simon Keenlyside, returning after a three-year absence due to throat illness as the scheming Tonio and happily proving that his voice remains splendidly vigorous as well as acting the vicious lecherous misfit with Dickensian relish.”
    ★★★★ Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 03 December 2017

    “Simon Keenlyside’s voice is on the smooth side for the hunchbacked ruffian that is Tonio, but he put in so much energy and sounded so good that it’s hard to complain.”
    ★★★★★ David Karlin, Bach Track, 03 December 2017

    “Simon Keenlyside excels as creepy, lago-like Tonio.”
    ★★★★ Richard Morrison, The Times, 04 December 2017

    “…and the unlovely Tonio, superbly sung with repugnant, tight anger and a convincing, rubbery physicality by Simon Keenlyside.”
    ★★★★ Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, 10 December 2017

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    27 Sep 16 Mozart Don Giovanni
    Metropolitan Opera

    “He is now back in New York starring in a revival of Michael Grandage’s production of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” and he seemed in fine shape, vocally and physically. His voice rang out cleanly and clearly, and he showed good stamina in a portrayal long on physical exertion.”
    James R. Oestreich, The New York Times, 28 September 2016 

    “The best news is that the much-loved British baritone Simon Keenlyside…was back, lithe and physically deft, in the title role, which he first sang with Glyndebourne Touring Opera in 1993…his mercurial charm, wit and musicianship won out.”
    Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, 2 October 2016 

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    15 Jul 16 Giuseppe Verdi La Traviata
    National Theater Munich

    “Simon Keenlyside has been a regular as Giorgio Germont in this production. Mr Keenlyside…has always been a strong singer and an excellent artist who gives meaning to everything he sings. He was a convincing Germont.”
    Jose M. Irurzun, Seen and Heard

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    02 Jul 16 Lionel Bart Oliver - role of Fagin
    Grange Park Opera

    “The big draw in terms of operatic terms was Simon Keenlyside…. his acting…was the chief pleasure…. In dialogue scenes he proved himself a versatile comic actor, with a sharp sense of timing and an excellent command of detail….  the [Simon’s] portrait felt complex and rounded.”
    Warwick Thompson, OPERA, August 2016

    “…he reviewed the situation and picked a pocket or two with style, wit and crisp enunciation, as well as some nicely underplayed characterisation.”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 3 June 2016 

    “As Fagin…he sounded in excellent form… Always a resourceful actor, Keenlyside made Fagin into a complex, at least partially sympathetic figure, making every word tell and putting each of his numbers over effectively, as well as joining skilfully in the busy ensemble routines; his was the finest performance onstage and quite properly the centerpiece of the show.”
    George Hall, Opera News, August 2016

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    22 Oct 14 Schubert 'Winterreise' with Emanuel Ax
    Wigmore Hall

    “– a poignant and powerful Winterreise
    …with the baritone drawing discreetly on his great actorly abilities, occasionally pacing the platform, looking up to the heavens and, finally and most theatrically of all, stepping forward to the front of the stage for a motionless delivery of the bleakest of bleak final songs… Keenlyside was magnificently and even frighteningly authoritative, while the dramatic urgency of Numbness, On the River and The Inn was grippingly delivered… there was a thought-out artistic purpose at each twist and turn; it is hard to recall a more numbed conclusion than the one these artists achieved as the organ-grinder’s tune died on the edge of the void.”
    4**** Martin Kettle, The Guardian, 23 October 2014 

    “He declaimed Wilhelm Müller’s poetry with the fluidity of speech. His German is excellent, his diction is pristine, his eye for detail acute. Armed with his dark, handsome baritone, he unveiled multiple layers of meaning in every song, every stanza and, occasionally, in a single line.”
    Hannah Nepil, Financial Times, 23 October 2014

    “Is there such a thing as ‘the’ Winterreise? Of course not, since it is true of all masterpieces that they lend themselves to a variety of interpretations whilst still retaining their individuality; however, Simon Keenlyside and Emanuel Ax come as close as any performers today to capturing the sense of Schubert’s work as the journey of an angry, despairing soul.”
    Melanie Eskenazi, Music OMH, 22 October 2014

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    12 Sep 14 Verdi Rigoletto
    Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

    “The Royal Opera’s latest revival of David McVicar’s production of Rigoletto primarily forms a vehicle for Simon Keenlyside, who plays Verdi’s tragic jester in a startling performance that is as much about physicality as it is about singing. Whirling around on crutches in the opening scene, he reminds us of Antony Sher’s Richard III. His gestures are obscene, and few Rigolettos have quite so forcefully brought home the fact that the loathing with which he satirises the Mantuan court is genuine rather than assumed.”
    Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 16 September 2014

    “The reason to go is Simon Keenlyside, singing the title role for the first time at the Royal Opera. Still where others flail, agile where some might stagger, Keenlyside can act anyone else off the stage. For once you sympathise with Hugo’s hunchback.”
    Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, 21 September 2014

    “The British baritone Simon Keenlyside is quite superb in the title role, adding a gravelly tone to his usual immaculate voice to bring an earthy grittiness to the part that fits the troubled nature of Rigoletto excellently.”
    William Hartston, Express, 16 September 2014

    “…as Rigoletto, Simon Keenlyside…sings with great warmth and authority.”
    Michael Church, The Independent, 15 September 2014

    “…in Simon Keenlyside, singing Rigoletto for the first time at Covent Garden following an acclaimed Welsh National Opera run in 2010, revival director Leah Hausman has a protagonist quite unlike the old-school Italians usually associated with the role. Keenlyside’s voice is in fine fettle…and his physical volatility chimes perfectly with the production’s edgy look and feel…Keenlyside gives it his all.”
    David Gutman, The Stage, 15 September 2014

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    19 May 14 Verdi Macbeth
    Orchestra of the English National Opera/Gardner (Chandos CD)

    “Simon Keenlyside explores the title role in depth, offering a huge variety of expression and fulfilling the potential of Verdi’s notes to reveal minute nuances of character and situation: his nervous usurper of the Scottish throne is an extremely powerful portrayal.”
    George Hall, BBC Music Magazine, June 2014

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    04 Apr 14 Gounod Faust
    Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

    “…while Simon Keenlyside is a magnificent Valentin, combining anger with self-righteousness: his death scene is chilling.”
    George Hall, The Guardian, 7 April 2014