A native of New Zealand, Simon O’Neill has established himself as one of the finest helden-tenors on the international stage. He is a principal artist with the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Teatro alla Scala and both the Bayreuther Festspiele and Salzburger Festspiele, appearing with a number of illustrious conductors including James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Valery Gergiev, Sir Antonio Pappano, Daniel Barenboim, Pietari Inkinen, Pierre Boulez, Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Colin Davis, Daniele Gatti, 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 Der Ring des Nibelungen 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”.
Notable debuts have included: Jenik The Bartered Bride at the Royal Opera House with Mackerras (2005), Die Zauberflöte at the Salzburg Festival with Muti (2005), Gran Sacerdote Idomeneo at the Metropolitan Opera under Levine (2006), Sergei in Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk with Armstrong for Opera Australia (2009), Siegmund Die Walküre at Teatro alla Scala with Barenboim (2010) and the Bayerische Staatsoper with Nagano (2013), Lohengrin (title role) for the Bayreuth Festival with Nelsons (2010), Parsifal (title role) with Gatti (2011), Chairman Mao Nixon in China with Lawrence Renes with the San Francisco Opera (2012), and Parsifal at the Wiener Staatsoper with Thielemann (2012).
Simon made his Bayreuth festival debut in the title role of Lohengrin in the new Hans Neuenfels production and returned as Parsifal in the celebrated Stefan Herheim production. Other recent engagements have included opening La Scala’s season as Siegmund Die Walküre with Barenboim, the Wiener Staatsoper with Welser-Möst, his return as Siegmund in the Keith Warner’s celebrated Der Ring des Nibelungen, Lohengrin, Fidelio, Stolzing Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and the title role of Parsifal in the Stephen Langridge production at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Tambourmajor Wozzeck with Levine at the Metropolitan Opera, Erik Der Fliegende Holländer at the Ravinia Festival with Conlon and the Chicago Symphony, Cavaradossi Tosca in Tokyo, Berlin and Hamburg, Florestan Fidelio, and Die Walküre at the 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 the title role in Otello.
Recent highlights include: Die Walküre in his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Boris Katya Kabanova at the Berliner Staatsoper and Gurrelieder at the 2017 BBC Proms, all with Sir Simon Rattle; he also recently performed Die Walküre with Andrew Davis at the Edinburgh Festival, made his debut in the title role Siegfried with Jaap van Zweden and the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and performed Siegfried Götterdämmerung for the first time on stage at the Houston Grand Opera. Forthcoming projects include Das Lied von der Erde at the Barbican Centre and in Luxembourg with Rattle, a return to the Hamburgische Staatsoper as Tambourmajor Wozzeck, Die Walküre with La Fura dels Baus in Taipei, performances under Jaap van Zweden with the New York Philharmonic and Dallas Symphony orchestras, a tour with the Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Paavo Järvi to China, and a return to the Bayerischer Staatsoper with Petrenko.
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, Missa Solemnis with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Florestan at the Salzburger Festspiele and BBC Proms with Barenboim, Florestan with the National Symphony Orchestra with Eschenbach at the Kennedy Center Washington, Gurrelieder in the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, Das Lied von der Erde and Parsifal in concert at Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia with Pappano and Gatti, Act Three Parsifal with Nelsons and the Bayerischer Rundfunks Orchestra at the Herkulessaal München, 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 No8 at the Sydney Opera House with Ashkenazy and Beethoven’s Symphony No9 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 One of Die Walküre in concert and performing the complete ring cycle with the Staatskapelle Berlin at the BBC Proms.
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 Parsifal on Blu-ray and DVD with Sir Antonio Pappano from Covent Garden, the title role of Otello and Max 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 Salzburger Festspiele Mozart 25 DVD with Riccardo Muti, Mahler’s Symphony No8 with Vladimir Ashkenanzy and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven Symphony No9 with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie conducted by Paavo Järvi and with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra under 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 on 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 Director of Music (Honoris Causa) from Victoria University of Wellington and is an alumnus if 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.