© Craig Fuller
© Craig Fuller
© 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 he performs King Hrothgar Beowulf (Proper Job Theatre); Jacob Displaced (Tête-à-Tête/English National Opera); Handel Messiah (City of London Sinfonia); a recital paired with perfumes for Oxford International Song Festival; and recordings of songs by Fanny Hensel, Reena Esmail and Cheryl Frances-Hoad.
Among his recent highlights are his American debut as Father in Kamala Sankaram’s opera, Thumbprint (Portland Opera); Prince Yamadori Madam Butterfly, Safin The Shoemaker (Welsh National Opera); Man 2 Frida (Northern Opera Group); Jean Arp Sophie (Tête à Tête); a recital with Roderick Williams for Thaxted Festival; a Sondheim recital for Oxford Lieder; and Paul Rissmann’s Alice in Wonderland Suites (London Symphony Orchestra).
His operatic roles 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); and Claggart Billy Budd Re-imagined (The Royal Opera House L&P Department). He has also covered Figaro Le nozze di Figaro (Longborough Festival Opera).
In contemporary opera he has performed 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 is also in partnership with Penhaligon’s British Perfumers 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.”