© Jane Hobson

© Steve Gregson

© Richard Hubert Smith

© Jane Hobson

© Alastair Muir

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Keel Watson (1964 – 2023)

Bass Baritone

Keel Watson studied singing with Elizabeth Hawes and trombone with Roger Brenner at Trinity College of Music.

In the current season he performs Private Willis Iolanthe and the Mayor Jenůfa (English National Opera; and Der Wanderer Siegfried (Regents Opera).

Among his recent highlights are acclaimed performances as Wotan Das Rheingold and Die Walküre (Regents Opera); The Bonze Madam Butterfly, Don Basilio The Barber of Seville (Welsh National Opera); Commendatore Don Giovanni (Scottish Opera); and Zuniga Carmen, The Bonze Madam Butterfly, Doctor Bartolo The Marriage of Figaro, Aye Akhnaten (English National Opera).

His operatic roles include Zuniga Carmen, Fasolt Das Rheingold and Creon Oedipus Rex (Teatro Nacional de São Carlos); The King Aida (Bregenz Festival); Reinmar Tannhäuser (Greek National Opera); Frazier Porgy and Bess (Opéra de Lyon); Fasolt Der Ring des Nibelungen (Teatro Massimo di Palermo); The Doctor Punch and Judy (Casa da Música, Porto); Elder Ott Susannah (Angers Nantes Opéra); Porgy Porgy and Bess (TCC Productions, Lisbon); Baldassare L’arlesiana, Tonio Pagliacci, Jorg Stiffelio and Bertrand Iolanta, Oroveso Norma, Nourabad Les pêcheurs de perles, and Il Re Aida (Opera Holland Park); Zuniga Carmen, Mandryka Arabella, and Speaker, Second Armed Man/Second Priest The Magic Flute (Opera North); Commendatore Don Giovanni (Mid Wales Opera); Bosun Billy Budd (The Royal Opera); Dosifey Khovanschina, Iago Otello, Don Pizarro Fidelio, First Apprentice Wozzeck, Abbot Curlew River, Pluto Il ballo delle ingrate, Neptune The Return of Ulysses, Commendatore Don Giovanni, and Voice of Neptune Idomeneo (Birmingham Opera Company); Don Pasquale, Fiesco Simon Boccanegra, Doctor Bartolo The Marriage of Figaro and Colline La bohème (English Touring Opera);and Hans Sachs Meistersinger and Holländer Der fliegende Holländer (Fulham Opera).

In contemporary opera he has performed King Sharyaati Sukanya (The Royal Opera); The Caterpillar Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Opera Holland Park); King in Luke Bedford’s Seven Angels (The Opera Group); Asantehene/Second Messenger in Jonathan Dove’s The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi (Opera OT); The Elder The Country of the Blind by Mark-Anthony Turnage (Aldebugh Festival/ENO Contemporary Opera Studio); and Parlaine Palace in the Sky (ENO Baylis).

Appearances at the BBC Proms include Abbot Curlew River (Birmingham Opera Company) and Usher Trial by Jury (BBC Concert Orchestra). Other major concert engagements include Porgy and Bess (Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal Scottish National Orchestra); Carmina Burana (Royal Festival Hall); A Child of Our Time (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra); and Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin (Durham Cathedral).

Recording and film credits include Second Armed Man in Kenneth Brannagh’s film of The Magic Flute; Harašta an animated version of The Cunning Little Vixen; and King Sharyaati Sukanya (London Philharmonic Orchestra).

Steven Swales Artist Management represents Keel Watson worldwide


Private Willis / Iolanthe / English National Opera / 2023
“Keel Watson as Private Willis was almost the star of the show with his fine acting, accent and singing…”
(Seen & Heard International)

“Keel Watson made a strong Private Willis, bringing humour and musicality to his solo, along with great physical presence.”
(Planet Hugill)

“Keel Watson shows his comic flair as the philowsophical Private Willis.”
(The Stage)

Wotan / Das Walküre / Regents Opera / 2023
“This Wotan was caustic, bitter, increasingly depressive — a portrayal superbly brought to life by Watson through booming voice and biting wordplay…”
(The Times)

“…Keel Watson perhaps gave the performance of his life as Wotan in this Die Walküre. With his expressive voice Watson displayed all his abilities as a masterly and engrossing tale-teller…”
(Seen and Heard International)

“Outstanding among the singers was the Wotan of the bass-baritone Keel Watson with his powerful voice, powerfully exploring all depths: a father of the gods, the likes of which one very rarely hears even on big stages.”
(Klassik begeistert)

Commendatore / Don Giovanni / Scottish Opera / 2022
“…Keel Watson an imposing Commendatore.”
(Opera / Andrew Clark)

“…the excellent Keel Watson…”
(The Telegraph)