© Richard Hubert Smith
© Richard Hubert Smith
© Matthew Williams-Ellis
Indian-Scottish Neil Balfour is a graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) 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 and the first to beatbox in an opera at Longborough Festival Opera.
In the current season engagements include Prince Yamadori in Welsh National Opera’s new production of Madam Butterfly, a Sondheim recital for Oxford Lieder and looks forward to attending 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); Jean Arp Sophie (Tête à Tête); 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.
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.”
Mustafà / The Italian Girl in Algiers / Mananan Opera / 2017
“The Bey himself, Mustafa (a devilishly handsome Neil Balfour), flirted insanely with the audience and his compatriots on stage with a mischievous zeal. We should hate this man for his misogeny but love him for his ridiculousness.”
Lord Ellington / La Vie Parisienne / RNCM / 2016
“Neil Balfour excelled as Lord Ellington the minor English aristocrat wearing a loud houndstooth-patterned suit, giving a convincing performance with considerable stage presence. Very much at home in the role, Balfour used his attractive voice, smooth with a slight dark edge, to his best advantage.”
(Seen & Heard International)