© Richard Hubert Smith
© Richard Hubert Smith
© Matthew Williams-Ellis
Indian-Scottish Neil Balfour is a graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music and the National Opera Studio. A former Britten-Pears and Concordia artist, he is the first opera singer to be booked by the Glastonbury Festival in the Astrolabe Tent and the first to beatbox in an opera at Longborough Festival Opera.
In the current season engagements include Prince Yamadori Madam Butterfly for Welsh National Opera, Jean Arp Sophie for Tête à Tête, Innkeeper in operatic ghost-story Oh, Whistle and I’ll come to you, a Sondheim recital for Oxford Lieder and a Samling Artist Residency.
Operatic performances include Colline La bohème (Mananan Opera & OFMAN Madrid Opera Studio); Mercurio La Calisto (Longborough Festival Opera), Don Alfonso Così fan tutte, Quince A Midsummer Night’s Dream and, Lord Ellington La vie Parisienne (RNCM); Dottore Grenvil La traviata (Devon Opera); Cold Genius King Arthur (Glastonbury Festival); Mustafà L’italiana in Algeri and Don Pasquale Don Pasquale (Mananan Opera); Claggart Billy Budd Re-imagined (The Royal Opera House L&P Department); being a Young Artist Macbeth (Buxton International Festival) and the nationwide tour of Aida (Chorus of Opera North). Roles understudied include Figaro Le nozze di Figaro (Longborough Festival Opera) and Lt. Ratcliffe Billy Budd (Opera North).
Contemporary opera roles created for Neil include Ibn Al-Haytham Al-Haytham’s Light and Texy/Everywhere Back into the World (English Touring Opera); Father Mysterious 44 (the first electronic opera); Dad/La-La A Shoe Full of Stars (YAM Awards Best Opera 2018); and Punch Crocodile (a dark-web animated opera).
Concert performances have included Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess (Leeds Philharmonic Orchestra); Haydn’s Mass in time of War; Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and an eclectic mix of song recitals for Leeds Lieder, &Piano, Britten-Pears Arts and the Leeds Opera Festival.
Neil is the first classical artist for sE Electronics and NORD (world-leading microphones & digital pianos), director of ArtSongStory (compelling videos of art-song) and founder of the Koko Koncerts (classical stars in a coffee shop). He is also in partnership with Penhaligon’s British perfume house, Kapow meggings and VivoBarefoot shoes. His work as a voiceover artist has had over 100 million plays.
Yamadori / Madam Butterfly / Welsh National Opera / 2021
“with powerful cameos… Neil Balfour (a grungy, sullen Prince Yamadori) there was no discernible weak link…”
“Neil Balfour as a very likeable Yamadori…”
Oxford Lieder Festival / Recital with Kitty Whately / 2021
“He sang one of Aaron Copland’s Old American Songs, ‘The Boatman’s Dance’, with a lovely focused bass-baritone voice and characterful stage presence… and we ended with Balfour’s tour-de-force in ‘Buddy’s Blues’”
Mercurio / La Calisto / Longborough Festival Opera / 2019
“Neil Balfour is a superb bass-baritone as Mercurio.”
“The hyperactive ‘fixer’ Mercury, sung by Neil Balfour, exuding mischief and fun. His voice came across to the audience seats strongly and he gave even what he sang, an impish feel, helped by his vocal flexibility.”
(Classical Music Daily)
“The singers are also musically glamorous, capturing an impressive range of character and drama. Neil Balfour offers a certain lucid charm, as appropriate for Mercury.”