Simon O’ Neill
Performance: Titus Recital Series
1. Describe your first opera going experience?
I grew up in the beautiful South Island of New Zealand – ‘Lord of the Ring’s country!’ From an early age my parents supported my musical education – piano and brass study and finally finding my voice as a young baritone. My first operatic experience was one very familiar to Dallas Opera audience member – that of a school trip to an opera – this one being Verdi’s Rigoletto. I love it when school groups are invited to the dress rehearsal of our operas and I know this is where my love of the art form started.
2. How did you come to choose opera as your career?
My earlier years in music consisted of the love of brass and the piano. It was only in my later high school years that I started singing, playing in the rugby football team coupled with singing in the school choir was great for me. The first year of university I watched my idol Placido Domingo along with Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras in the ’Three Tenor’s Concert’ celebrating the World Cup. I was hooked!
3. You are called “The Wagnerian Tenor of your generation!” What is your favorite Wagnerian character to perform?
The music of Wagner has also been close to my musical soul – not through the vocal music but through his extraordinary writing for brass instruments. Whilst studying to be a tenor at the Manhattan School of Music and then the Juilliard School I focussed on general lyric tenor repertoire – Romeo, Rodolfo, Pinkerton and Tamino. Later in my studied I started preparing the roles of Mozart’s Idomeneo and Tito which ultimately lead me to the slightly heavier Wagnerian roles of Lohengrin, Parsifal and Siegmund. Now in my late 40’s I am making an ‘upgrade’ – Simon’s Wagner 2.0, I guess to the final three great Wagnerian roles of Tannhäuser, Siegfried and Tristan. I find it impossible to answer which role is my favourite as I am always in the love with the role I am performing at that one time.
4. What are some of your favorite art song selections?
Ever since I began studying classical singing I have sung Lieder. As a pianist it gives me great joy to sit and play the works as well. My favourite Lieder singer is the great German Tenor, Fritz Wunderlich. This recital and the accompanying Decca Recital Lieder disc is some what a tribute to him, especially his 1963 recording of Beethoven and Strauss – Manu of the song I will be performing in the Dallas recital
5. You have just released a new CD titled DISTANT BELOVED, what was the inspiration for this recording?
The inspiration for this recording of German lieder is distance.
Travel plays a significant part in the life of any opera singer, and, whilst I am privileged to have the opportunity to sing Siegmund, Siegfried, Parsifal and many other dream roles in the great opera houses and concert halls of the world, my career takes me away from home and loved ones for over nine months each year. Such is the singer’s lot.
The title of this album is deeply evocative for me. Though I may be performing on the opposite side of the world, my thoughts are never far from my beautiful wife and children, and our wonderful family home in New Zealand, overlooking endless majesty of the Pacific Ocean.
6. Outside of singing, what do you enjoy doing in your off season?
For the past 20 years I have been living in New York City and London but now with my gorgeous three kids and my lovely wife, Carmel I base my career from my home in New Zealand. Outside travelling the world singing I return to my slice of paradise in New Zealand and become full-time soccer/netball/basketball/swimming etc Dad! I love it!
See Simon O’Neill live Sunday, January 27, 2019 at 2:00 p.m BUY TICKETS