Sir Simon Keenlyside CBE (born 3 August 1959) is a British baritone who has performed in operas and concerts since the mid-1980s.


Early life and education

Keenlyside was born in London, the son of Raymond and Ann Keenlyside. Raymond played second violin in the Aeolian Quartet, and Ann's father was the violinist Leonard Hirsch.[1] When he was eight, he was enrolled in St John's College School, a boarding school for the boy choristers of the Choir of St John's College, Cambridge and spent much of his childhood touring and recording with the choir under the direction of choirmaster George Guest.[2]

He later attended Reed's School in Cobham, before studying zoology at Cambridge University.[1] He returned to St John's as a choral scholar, before studying singing at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. After graduation, he won a Peter Moores Foundation scholarship (1985) and joined the Royal Northern College of Music to study voice with the baritone John Cameron where he developed a love for lieder and German poetry.[1]

Singing career

Keenlyside made his first appearance in a major operatic role in 1987 as Lescaut in Manon Lescaut at the Royal Northern College of Music. Opera magazine remarked on it being an "astonishingly mature" performance, and that he "used his warm and clear baritone with notable musicianship".[3] The Richard Tauber prize, which he won in 1986, allowed him to go to Salzburg for further study. His money ran out before he could finish his four-month term there, but Rudolf Knoll, a teacher at the Salzburg Mozarteum, gave him private lessons for free. Knoll encouraged him to work on the Italian repertoire while he was still young, and introduced him to the Hilbert agency which got him singing jobs in Germany. His professional debut as a baritone came in 1988, at the Hamburg State Opera as Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro.[2]

In 1989, Keenlyside joined the roster of Scottish Opera, where he stayed until 1994, performing as, among other roles, Marcello (La bohème), Danilo (The Merry Widow), Harlequin (Ariadne auf Naxos), Guglielmo (Così fan tutte), Figaro (Barber of Seville), Billy Budd (Billy Budd), Papageno (Zauberflöte) and Belcore (L'elisir d'amore).

During this period, he made debut performances at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, (1989 singing Silvio), English National Opera (Guglielmo), Welsh National Opera, San Francisco Opera, Geneva, Paris, and Sydney. He sang for Glyndebourne for the first time in 1993 and made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1996. Keenlyside has performed at virtually all the major opera houses in the world, including the Paris Opera and the Metropolitan Opera.

Keenlyside sang in the world premieres of two 21st-century operas, creating the roles of Prospero in Thomas Adès' The Tempest in 2004, and Winston Smith in Lorin Maazel's 1984 in 2005.[4] He later participated in the EMI Classics world premiere recording of The Tempest.[5]

In 2010 Keenlyside sang the role of Rodrigo in a new production of Don Carlo at the Metropolitan Opera opposite Roberto Alagna to critical acclaim.[6]

Keenlyside added the role of Golaud in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande to his repertoire in a new production which premiered at Wiener Staatsoper on 18 June 2017 (he previously sang the role of Pelléas for many years). The following afternoon, he was awarded the title of Kammersänger by the Austrian government in a ceremony in the Teesalon of the opera house.

His recordings include several issues for Hyperion Records, including music of Benjamin Britten, Emmanuel Chabrier, Maurice Duruflé and Henry Purcell. He is also a featured singer on five volumes of the Hyperion Franz Schubert Edition and on the second volume of the Hyperion Robert Schumann Edition. In 2007 Sony Music released a recital disc of arias entitled Tales of Opera.[7]

Personal life

Keenlyside is married to the Royal Ballet dancer Zenaida Yanowsky.[1]

Operatic roles

Honours and awards


  1. ^ a b c d e Wroe, Nicholas (8 September 2007). "The call of the wild". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 September 2007.
  2. ^ a b Kellow, Brian (December 2002)."The Poetry of Risk". Opera News, Vol. 67, No. 6
  3. ^ Allison, John (2002). Baritones in Opera: Profiles of Fifteen Great Baritones, p. 81. Opera Magazine Ltd.
  4. ^ a b c d e Duchen, Jessica (12 March 2007)."Simon Keenlyside: The sound and the fury". The Independent
  5. ^ James Inverne, "EMI to release Adés’s The Tempest". Gramophone, 20 March 2007.
  6. ^ Tommasini, Anthony. "A Winning, Cautious 'Don Carlo' at the Met". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  7. ^ a b Gramophone (2007).Awards Special Issue, p. 61.
  8. ^ For a complete list of Keenlyside's roles see also List of roles at
  9. ^ Kesting, Jürgen (2008). Die grossen Sänger, Vol. 4, p. 2065. Hoffmann und Campe (in German)
  10. ^ a b c d La Scala. Archives: Keenlyside (subscription required)
  11. ^ White, Michael (14 May 2003). "Sweet prince of song". Daily Telegraph
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Royal Opera House. Archives: Keenlyside
  13. ^ Luten, C. J., (January 1996). Recording Review: Chabrier's Briseis by Rodgers, Harries, Padmore, Keenlyside, George and the BBC Scottish Orchestra and Chamber Chorus under Jean Yves Ossonce. Opera News (subscription required)
  14. ^ Gramophone (September 1995). Review: Harmonia Mundi CD HMC90 1515/7[permanent dead link] (1996 live recording from Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie), p. 103
  15. ^ Metropolitan Opera. Archives: Keenlyside, Simon (Baritone)
  16. ^ a b c Milnes, Rodney (November 1997) "Simon Keenlyside". Opera, Vol. 53, Issue 1, pp. 80–87
  17. ^ Listed in the cast for the performances at the Opéra Garnier in September 1998. See L'Événement du jeudi, Issues 718–725, p. 82 (in French)
  18. ^ a b Glyndebourne Festival Opera. Archives: Keenlyside
  19. ^ Jahn, George (7 March 2009). "Splendid music, but the staging – brrr!". Associated Press
  20. ^ Listed in projected cast for the performances at the Royal Opera House in November–December 1990. See Opera, Vol. 41, Issues 7–12, p. 1201
  21. ^ Loveland, Kenneth (December 1991). Review: Die Fledermaus, Welsh National Opera, New Theatre, Cardiff, Opera, Volume 42, p. 1479
  22. ^ Listed in the cast for the concert performances at Birmingham Symphony Hall and the Queen Elisabeth Hall (March 1995). See Opera, Vol. 45, Issues 7–12, p. 1299
  23. ^ Smith, Mike (25 April 2008). "From Turandot to tree-planting with opera singer Simon Keenlyside". Western Mail
  24. ^ One of his earliest roles. According to, he sang this at the Hamburg State Opera in June 1988.
  25. ^ Tumelty, Michael (20 September 1989). "Review: Theatre Royal, Glasgow, The Merry Widow", p. 14. Glasgow Herald
  26. ^ Sulcas, Roslyn (28 June 1998). "Master of Movement Decides to Tell a Story With an Opera". New York Times
  27. ^ Jampol, Joshua (2010). Living Opera. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-538138-6
  28. ^ Blyth, Alan (June 1996). "Taking off" Archived 30 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Gramophone, p. 23
  29. ^ Radio Canada. Opéra du samedi, Calendrier de diffusion, Saison 1998–1999 (in French)
  30. ^ Monelle, Raymond (23 August 1999). "Edinburgh: This tragic no man's land". The Independent
  31. ^ Evans, Eian (27 June 2010). "Review: Rigoletto, Millennium Centre, Cardiff". The Guardian
  32. ^ Tanner, Michael (9 September 2000). "Brighter shades of pale". The Spectator
  33. ^ Western European stages, Volume 15 (2003), p. 42. Center for Advanced Study in Theatre Arts
  34. ^ Bayerische Staatsoper (2009) Cast list: La Traviata, 12 June 2009 Archived 25 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine (in German)
  35. ^ Christiansen, Rupert (1 November 2001). Review: "War and Peace ENO, Coliseum – All-conquering confidence". Daily Telegraph
  36. ^ Kennedy, Michael (1994). Music Enriches All: The Royal Northern College of Music : The First Twenty-one Years, p. 77. Carcanet. ISBN 1-85754-085-9
  37. ^ Royal Philharmonic Society. Past RPS Music Awards Winners: Singers
  38. ^ BBC News (29 October 2003). "TV chef collects MBE"
  39. ^ L'Opera (December 2004)
  40. ^ Avui (20 October 2004) "Siegfried, millor òpera de la temporada anterior" Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, p. 46 (in Catalan)
  41. ^ Associated Press (13 February 2005). "Pre-telecast Grammy Award winners". USA Today
  42. ^ Laurence Olivier Awards (26 February 2006). "Keenlyside wins opera prize" Archived 7 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine,
  43. ^ Associated Press (15 January 2004)"Complete list of nominees for the 2004 Laurence Olivier Awards" (subscription required)
  44. ^ (22 October 2007). "Echo Klassik für Elina Garanca, Keenlyside und Jansons" (in German)
  45. ^ ABC (11 October 2007). "«Boulevard Solitude», de Henze, se impone en los premios de la crítica" (in Spanish)
  46. ^ Gramophone (30 September 2010). "Gramophone Awards 2010 unveiled"
  47. ^ Waleson, Heidi (2011). "The 2011 Honorees: Simon Keenlyside, Vocalist of the Year". Musical America
  48. ^ "Simon Keenlyside wurde österreichischer Kammersänger". Wiener Staatsoper (in German). Vienna. 19 June 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2019.