Simon O’Neill

Hailed as “THE Wagnerian tenor of his generation”, Simon O’Neill is a Fulbright Scholar and became Officer of New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

(c) Albert Comper


Simon performs at the Metropolitan Opera New York, Teatro alla Scala Milan, Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, Wiener Staatsoper, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Bayerische Staatsoper, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Royal Opera House Covent Garden and the Salzburg and Bayreuth Festivals; under such celebrated conductors as Barenboim, Runnicles, Nagano, Levine, Luisi, Thielemann, Muti and Petrenko. His many roles include Lohengrin, Parsifal, Siegmund Die Walküre, Florestan Fidelio, Boris Katya Kabanova, Kaiser Die Frau ohne Schatten and Soltzing Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.

Concert highlights include Florestan in Rome with Sir Antonio Pappano, the title role Siegfried in Hong Kong (van Zweden), Glagolitic Mass in Prague (Inkinen) and Berlin (Sir Simon Rattle), Erik Der fliegende Holländer at the Ravinia Festival (Conlon), Gurrelieder, Fidelio and Mahler 8 at the BBC Proms, Gurrelieder (Runnnicles), Die Walküre (Davis), Mahler 8 (Harding) and the title role Siegfried (Elder) in concert at the Edinburgh Festival, Das Lied von der Erde with the London Symphony Orchestra (Rattle), and Siegmund with the Berlin Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic and Dallas Symphony Orchestras.

For Simon’s full biography please download his publicity pack.



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    Label: NoMadMusic

    Release Date: 22 Jan 21

    Michelle DeYoung – mezzosoprano
    Simon O’Neill – tenor
    Pierre-Yves Pruvot – baritone
    Case Scaglione – conductor
    Orchestre national d’Ile-de-France

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    Distant Beloved

    Label: Decca

    Release Date: 08 Feb 19

    Recorded in New Zealand with pianist Terence Dennis, Distant Beloved includes a selection of German lieder by Beethoven, Schumann, Richard Strauss and Wagner which possess special meaning for the international artist. The album is dedicated to Simon’s family.

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    WAGNER 'Parsifal'

    Label: Opus Arte

    Release Date: 03 Nov 14

    Conductor: Antonio Pappano
    Director: Stephen Langridge

    Parsifal: Simon O’Neill
    Kundry / Voice from Above: Angela Denoke
    Gurnemanz: René Pape
    Amfortas: Gerald Finley
    Klingsor: Willard W. White
    Titurel: Robert Lloyd

    Royal Opera Chorus
    Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

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    WAGNER 'Die Walküre'

    Label: Arthaus Musik

    Release Date: 04 Nov 13

    Live Recording from the Teatro Alla Scala, Milan, 2010

    Conductor: Daniel Barenboim, Director: Guy Cassiers

    Siegmund: Simon O’Neill
    Hunding: John Tomlinson
    Wotan: Vitalij Kowaljow
    Sieglinde: Waltraud Meier
    Brünnhilde: Nina Stemme
    Fricka: Ekaterina Gubanova

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    WAGNER 'Ring Cycle' iPad app

    Label: Naxos

    Release Date: 01 May 13

    Simon O’Neill is interviewed on this app for iPad, ‘Wagner’s Ring Cycle’, developed by Naxos Multimedia.


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    VERDI 'Otello'

    Label: LSO Live

    Release Date: 12 Sep 12

    Conductor: Sir Colin Davis

    Tenor: Simon O’Neil
    Bass-Baritone: Gerald Finley
    Soprano: Anne Schwanewilms

    London Symphony Orchestra
    London Symphony Chorus


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    WEBER 'Der Freischütz'

    Label: LSO Live

    Release Date: 16 Apr 12

    Conductor: Sir Colin Davis

    Soprano: Christine Brewer
    Soprano: Sally Matthews
    Tenor: Simon O’Neill

    London Symphony Orchestra
    London Symphony Chorus

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    BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9

    Label: Sony

    Release Date: 10 Apr 12

    Conductor: Kent Nagano

    Erin Wall (soprano), Mihoko Fujimura (mezzo), Simon O’Neill (tenor), Mikhail Petrenko (bass)

    Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal

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    MAHLER Symphony No. 8

    Label: SSO Live

    Release Date: 02 Aug 10

    Conductor: Vladimir Ashkenazy

    Marina Shaguc, Twyla Robinson, Dagmar Peckov, Bernadette Cullen, Simon O’Neill, Markus Eiche, Martin Snell

    Sydney Symphony Orchestra
    Sydney Children’s Choir, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Adelaide Symphony Chorus, Gondwana Voices,  West Australian Symphony Orchestra Chorus

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    BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 9

    Label: Sony

    ‘The Symphonies & The Beethoven Project’

    Conductor: Paavo Järvi

    Soloists: Christiane Oelze, Annely Peebo, Simon O’Neill, Dietrich Henschel

    Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Deutscher Kammerchor

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    WAGNER Scenes and Arias 'Father and Son'

    Label: EMI Classics

    Release Date: 01 Jan 10

    Tenor: Simon O’Neill

    Conductor: Pietari Inkinen
    New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

    Simon O’Neill’s first solo album for EMI Classics features scenes and arias from Wagner’s Lohengrin, Die Walküre, Siegfried, Götterdämmerung and Parsifal.

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    CHAUSSON 'Le Roi Arthus'

    Label: Telarc

    Release Date: 19 Dec 08

    Conductor: Leon Botstein

    Andrew Schroeder, Susan Bullock, Simon O’Neill, François Le Roux, Donald McIntyre

    BBC Symphony Orchestra
    Apollo Voices

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    MOZART: Die Zauberflöte

    Label: Decca

    Release Date: 06 Nov 06

    Conductor: Riccardo Muti
    Director: Pierre Audi

    Christian Gerhaher, Genia Kühmeier, Paul Groves, Diana Damrau, René Pape, Irena Bespalovaite, Simon O’Neill

    Wiener Philharmoniker, Wiener Staatsopenchor

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    27 Feb 20 Beethoven Fidelio Sir Mark Elder, Hallé Orchestra
    Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

    “Memorable moment No 2 was Florestan’s cry of “Gott!”, piercing as a fire alarm in Simon O’Neill’s spirited portrayal.”

    Geoff Brown, The Times, 02 March 2020

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    01 Jan 19 CD (Decca): Distant Beloved Simon O'Neill & Terence Dennis

    Over the past decade, he has performed the great role of Sigmund in Wagner’s Die Walkure more than 80 times, where many moments call for a tenderness, a poetic warmth that needs the lieder style of singing, which he enjoys. The power and exceptional clarity of his voice thrill on this disc (English translation of lyrics in booklet). Dennis is excellent on the piano.
    Verdict: Great songs expertly presented.
    Otago Daily Times

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    27 Feb 19 Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle
    Rudolfinum, Prague

    English Translation:
    Unlike the tenor Simon O’Neill, who has his strenuous part, containing the ecstatic heights in the opening song of Whispering, the grotesque story in the song About Youth and sarcasm in the song Opiley in the Spring, he literally cut off with complete technical certainty and without the slightest problems.
    He did not hesitate once, and in a clear, piercing voice he literally burned the orchestra, naturally combing tones with words, in short, it was a performance that he would not forget.


    Na rozdíl od tenoristy Simona O´Neilla, který svůj náročný part, obsahující extatické výšiny v úvodní Pijácké písni, groteskní příběh v písni O mládí i sarkasmus v písni Opilý na jaře, doslova vystřihl s naprostou technickou jistotou a bez sebemenších problémů.
    Ani jednou nezaváhal a svým jasným, průrazným hlasem doslova propaloval orchestr, přirozeně spojoval tóny se slovy, zkrátka byl to výkon, na nějž se nezapomíná.

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    08 Aug 18 WAGNER Siegfried Edinburgh International Festival

    “..Which leaves Simon O’Neill in the title role. He’s been called the Wagner singer of his generation. Anyone who can negotiate this huge role with such laser accuracy, variety and inexhaustible energy must deserve that accolade. He conjures an expression of impervious jubilance exactly right for this role.”

    Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, 11 August 2018

    “New Zealand tenor Simon O’Neill has the perfect voice for the role…”

    Keith Bruce, Sunday Herald, 09 August 2018

    “Simon O’Neill tirelessly produced bright, clean, steady tone”

    ★★★★ Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 09 August 2018

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    22 Jul 18 Mahler Symphony no. 8 BBC National Orchestra of Wales
    BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall

    “Simon O’Neill was outstanding in Doctor Marianus’s high lying solos.”

    ★★★★ Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 23 July 2018

    “Simon O’Neill was a sturdy Doctor Marianus and invoked the Eternal Feminine using all his experience as one of the best Wagner tenors of his generation.”

    Jim Pritchard, Seen and Heard, 23 July 2018

    “…for the tenor soloist Simon O’Neill’s heroic cry of “lumen, lumen”, it unfolded as joyful disorder.”

    ★★★★ Anna Picard, The Times, 25 July 2018

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    01 Jun 18 Wagner: Wesendonck Lieder New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
    New Zealand Tour

    Matilde Wesendonck’s poetry is heady stuff and O’Neill was at his best in the ecstatic intensity of the central song… the final Traume confirmed the New Zealander is still the Heldentenor of our dreams.
    William Dart, NZ Herald

    His long association with Wagner’s music (frequent performances of Siegmund, Parsifal and Lohengrin among other roles) yielded dividends in a keen understanding of the idiom and attention to the text, as well as a true Heldentenor voice that has no difficulty with maintaining a smooth legato… He also took real care the differentiate the feeling of each song, from the bluster of Schmerzen to the yearning in Im Treibhaus. O’Neill brought strong vocal energy to Stehe still! while still lavishing it with typical vocal refulgence, and was equally adept in his attention to softer dynamic with some pure, floated high notes, particularly in Im Treibhaus against a particularly succulent orchestral backdrop.
    Simon Holden, Bachtrack

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    19 Aug 17 SCHOENBERG 'Gurrelieder' London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle
    Royal Albert Hall, London

    “Simon O’Neill boasted serious stamina and an unerring sense of musical line. Balance is a real challenge in this piece, where even huge solo voices can be submerged, but O’Neill’s bright, hard, upper register largely carried over the orchestral groundswell, taking flight ever more extravagantly as the romance turned tragic.”
    Flora Willson, the Guardian, 20 August 2017

    “The greatest vocal burden falls on the tenor singing Waldemar, and Simon O’Neill was very moving, caressing the lines with all his usual artistic sincerity.”
    John Allison, The Telegraph, 20 August 2017

    “Simon O’Neill was stylish and tireless in the taxing role of Waldemar, singing with great elegance of line and much heroic ardour.”
    Robert Hugill, 20 August 2017

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    06 Aug 17 WAGNER 'Die Walküre' Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis
    Usher Hall, Edinburgh

    “Simon O’Neill’s Siegmund and Amber Wagner’s Sieglinde were perfectly matched as the incestuous twins, O’Neill’s big, bright, silvery tenor and Wagner’s rich, warm soprano both rising effortlessly above the orchestra.”
    David Smythe, Bachtrack, 7 August 2017

    “Simon O’Neill was a superb Siegmund”
    Gregor Tassie, Classical Source, 8 August 2017

    “O’Neill’s thrilling tenor voice”
    Susan Nickalls, The Scotsman, 8 August 2017

    “…the immensely superb Simon O’Neill”
    Sarah Urwin Jones, The Scotsman, 13 August 2017

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    22 Apr 17 WAGNER 'Götterdämmerung' Houston Grand Opera

    “The Siegfried was New Zealand heldentenor Simon O’Neill, an HGO favorite whose Wagnerian assignments with Goerke have included the 2015 “Die Walküre” and “Lohengrin”. He proved to have the power and endurance necessary to successfully perform this role.”
    Opera Warhorses, 26 April 2017

    “The Ring Cycle is nothing without a strapping Siegfried, an exhausting role that Simon O’Neill delivered powerfully. He performed valiantly last year in Siegfried, but this time around, he’s grown with his character technically, emotionally and in sheer gallantry.”
    Sydney Boyd, Houstonia, 24 April 2017

    “…his voice’s brilliance and bite exuded Siegfried’s vigor. O’Neill filled Siegfried’s story-of-my-life monologue in Act 3 — which turns out to be his last glimpse of glory — with swagger and confidence.”
    Steven Brown, Texas Classical Review, 24 April 2017

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    20 Oct 16 BEETHOVEN 'Fidelio' Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Antonio Pappano
    Parco della Musica, Rome

    “Simon O’Neill delivered a very fine prison scene as Florestan, his tight, bright tenor in clarion voice… it was well worth waiting until Act II to hear him”
    Bachtrack, Mark Pullinger

    “For the finest voice of the performance both musically and dramatically was Simon O’Neill’s as Florestan. Perfectly focused and heroically ringing, he portrayed both heroism and vulnerability, often in the same stroke.”
    Seen and Heard, Jack Buckley

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    26 Apr 16 MAHLER 'Das Lied von der Erde' New World Symphony Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas

    “From the first words, in which O’Neill’s voice cut through the fortissimo orchestra, it was clear why this singer is tapped for heldentenor roles like Siegmund in Wagner’s Die Walküre. His projection over the surging orchestra wasn’t effortless, and that was part of its effectiveness — his muscular straining produced a tone that was rich, brilliant and pinging, with phrasing and pronunciation that brought out the desperate, death-shadowed exuberance of the text and music. O’Neill produced shining, operatic high notes. His intoning of the repeated phrase “Dunkel ist das Leben, ist der Tod” (“Dark is life, dark is death.”) was grim and luminous at once. In the passage in which he describes the ghastly image of a howling ape crouching among gravestones, he achieved a tone of almost terrifying force. In the song The Drunkard in Spring, he projected a sense of staggering, inebriated eloquence.”
    David Fleshler, Miami Herald

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    06 Apr 16 WAGNER 'Die Walkure' Act 1 Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Jaap van Zweden

    “New Zealand born tenor Simon O’Neill was marvelous as Siegmund. His clarion voice has some Italian-style “ping” that many heldentenors lack. This allows him to sail out over even the largest orchestra swells with ease… Even his anguished cries for his absent father, Wälse, are only on a high G flat moving to a G natural. These are notes that any decent baritone can muster. But forget about muster. O’Neill knocked them out of the park… He was also the best of the three singers in conveying the dramatic twists and turns of the plot without the benefit of staging.”
    Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, Theatre Jones

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    05 Oct 15 PUCCINI 'Tosca' New Zealand Opera

    “O’Neill is in glorious form for ‘E lucevan'”
    William Dart, New Zealand Herald

    “It was this sensitivity that impressed the most, culminating in a flexible and liquid account of the famous “E lucevan le stelle” characterized with some truly fine gradation of dynamics, virtues that continued throughout the following duet. Bringing out the poetic side of the character made an ideal contrast with the heroics of Cavaradossi the revolutionary, O’Neill trumpeting out elongated A flats in the “Vittoria” scene in the most thrilling fashion. All in all, this was actually the finest singing I’ve heard from O’Neill, even including his estimable Wagner.”
    Simon Holden, Bachtrack

    “While other Wagnerian singers might have struggled with Puccini’s honeyed score, O’Neill seemed to relish the opportunity. His bright, forward tone may not be truly Italianate in sound, but he made good use of it projecting an ardent and passionate lover, and found heartfelt pathos with his moving rendition of “E lucevan le stelle” in Act 3.”
    Michael Sinclair, Operacritic.com

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    17 Sep 15 WAGNER 'Der fliegende Hollӓnder' Chicago Symphony Orchestra, James Conlon
    Ravinia Festival

    “In its bright timbre, high placement and absolute security throughout its range, the fine, musical tenor of New Zealand native Simon O’Neill, another Ravinia debut, made him ideal casting as Erik, Senta’s ardent if hopeless suitor.”
    John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

    “As Erik, Simon O’Neill ardently conveyed the passion of Senta’s suitor who is ultimately hapless as he is no match for the mystique of the unnamed Dutchman.”
    Sam Jacobson, Bachtrack

    “Simon O’Neill sang with pleasing suppleness as Erik, the man who never had a chance with Senta, because even before she meets the Dutchman she has fallen in love with his portrait and his plight.”
    L. M. Rantala, Hyde Park Herald

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    22 Jun 15 WAGNER 'Siegfried' & 'Götterdämmerung' Final Acts
    Auckland Town Hall

    “We experienced some of the greatest love scenes in the operatic repertoire, delivered with utmost intensity and passion by O’Neill and Goerke. In their meeting you can feel a rush of almost erotic excitement with Goerke’s unforgettable mix of fear and anticipation on first sighting her lover … O’Neill was the perfect partner and watching the emotional interplay between the two was as compulsive as enjoying a good movie … O’Neill is first to die, and did so with a moving ‘Brunnhilde, Heilige Braut'”
    William Dart, New Zealand Herald

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    24 Oct 14 VERDI 'Otello'
    Houston Grand Opera

    “Tenor Simon O’Neill’s trumpet of a voice traced Otello’s entire tragic path, from the triumphant ring of his entrance to the raw edge of desperation that took hold as the deception progressed.”
    Steven Brown, Houston Chronicle, 25 Oct 2014

    “O’Neill’s best moment was when he cried out for peace and military glory in Otello’s 2nd act aria “Addio,” achieving that sweet yet full-bodied tone that is so hard to master in the upper range.”
    Sydney Boyd, Houstonia Magazine, 27 Oct 2014

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    08 Jul 14 VERDI 'Otello'
    Sydney Opera House

    “The three main principals could hardly be better. As Otello, New Zealand tenor Simon O’Neill is tireless and thrilling… he’s crystal clear even from the very back of the set. This is a reading of enormous panache, considerable vocal nuance and some of the most exciting top notes you are likely to hear on an operatic stage today. How rare and enjoyable it is to sit back and enjoy a singer in such a demanding role in full confidence that he won’t fall at any of the numerous vocal hurdles. The phrase-shaping of which he is capable, despite the gruelling requirements of volume or tessitura, is remarkable. And I’ve never heard so many of the words in a live performance of the role. The rapturous ascent to the top note as he sings “scendean sulle mie tenebre la gloria, il paradiso e gli astri a benedir” in the love duet is spine-tingling and the top note on “della Gloria d’Otello”, in the farewell-to-arms is hair-raising … He hurls himself around with gay abandon, and manages some pretty spectacular tumbles”
    Limelight magazine, July 2014

    “As Otello, New Zealander Simon O’Neill cemented his reputation as one of the world’s top heldentenors…O’Neill is another singer to make his mark by stepping in to a role at short notice — in 2009 in the title role of Otello with Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra. O’Neill’s projection is phenomenal, with an awesome upper register. Even more satisfying is his ability to sustain the intensity despite the demands of being on stage for a large part of the time.”
    Tom Pillans , Manly Daily, 7 July 2014

    “Simon O’Neill veered vertiginously between the vocal command of his first appearance as conquering hero, the tenderness of his first scene with Desdemona, the confused suspicion and the raging jealousy which later overcome him, and the utter defeat of the end. I have rarely heard such a convincing fusion of great singing and total character portrayal as in this performance of Otello, itself probably Verdi’s most successful opera in terms of theatre.”
    The Australian Stage, July 2014

    “As for Otello, the New Zealand tenor Simon O’Neill commands from the minute he steps on stage. From his re-entry in Act 1 where he seeks to silence the fray (“Abbasso le spade!”/”Down with your swords!”), O’Neill’s vocal and physical presence never wavers. Taught the role by one of the great Otellos, Placido Domingo, and fresh from a season of Wozzeck at the Metropolitan Opera, it is with single-minded intensity that O’Neill’s Heldentenor pierces through the psyche of the beleaguered Moor.”
    The Guardian (Australian), July 2014

    “Simon O’Neill’s entry as Otello resounded with robust force and he maintained a focused and energised strength with flaming colour to the sound throughout the whole of this demanding role.”
    Sydney Morning Herald, July 2014

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    04 Dec 13 WAGNER 'Parsifal'
    Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

    “Simon O’Neill’s Parsifal, on the other hand, was fully equal to Wagner’s demands”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 1 December 2013

    “Simon O’Neill plays Parsifal like Peter Grimes — a whiskery rough-diamond who could well have wandered into the wrong opera — with an agile brilliance”
    Michael White, New York Times, 2 December 2013

    “Simon O’Neill makes a tireless and thrilling Parsifal; in his battle with the compromised seductress Kundry (an electrifying Angela Denoke), he creates high drama of the first order.”
    Metro.co.uk, 3 December 2013

    “O’Neill’s shambling Parsifal, his tone slightly raw-edged, is perfectly suited to the production”
    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 1 December 2013


Nixon in China Mao Tse-Tung

Anthony and Cleopatra Caesar

Fidelio Florestan

Wozzeck Drum Major

Carmen Don Jose

Peter Grimes Peter Grimes
The Rape of Lucretia Male Chorus

Adriana Lecouvreur Mauricio

Le Roi d’Arthus Lancelot

Susannah Sam

Giulio Cesare Sextus
Lotario Berengario
Xerxes Xerxes

Jenufa Steva, Laca
Katya Kabanova Boris
The House of the Dead Skuratov

Die Tote Stadt Paul

Pagliacci Canio

Der Sturm

Cavalleria Rusticana Turiddu

Die Zauberflöte Tamino
Don Giovanni Don Ottavio
Idomeneo Idomeneo
La clemenza di Tito Tito

Boris Godunov Dmitri

Dialogues of the Carmelites Chevalier

La bohème Rodolfo
La fanciulla del West Dick Johnson
Madama Butterfly Pinkerton
Tosca Cavaradossi
La rondine Ruggero
Manon Lescaut Des Grieux
Turandot Calaf

The Bartered Bride Jenik

Die Fledermaus Alfred

Der Rosenkavalier Italian Singer
Ariadne auf Naxos Bacchus
Die Frau ohne Schatten Kaiser, Apollo

Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk Sergei

Eugene Onegin Lenski
Pique Dame Hermann

Il trovatore Manrico
La traviata Alfredo
La forza del destino Don Alvaro
Macbeth Macduff
Otello Otello
Simon Boccanegra Gabriele
Un ballo in maschera Riccardo

Das Rheingold Froh, Loge
Der fliegende Holländer Steersman, Erik
Die Walküre Siegmund
Götterdämmerung Siegfried
Lohengrin Lohengrin
Parsifal Parsifal
Rienzi Rienzi
Siegfried Siegfried

The Crucible Judge Danforth

Der Freischutz Max

Missa solemnis
Symphony No. 9
Choral Fantasy

War Requiem

Israel in Egypt

Die Schöpfung
Die Jahreszeiten

Glagolitic Mass

Das Lied von der Erde
Symphony No. 8


Coronation Mass
Mass in C Minor

Messa di Gloria


Oedipus Rex

A Child of Our Time