Home Reviews Recordings Publications And So...

How’s the time been spent so far...?

Oratorio – Ancient and Modern.

“What is your favourite piece of music?” – a question that is always asked: The answer can only be – “The one I performing at the moment”.

That said, MRB’s performed repertoire is immense, so it must all be rather likeable. Ranging from Purcell, Bach and Handel with Sir John Eliot Gardiner - Israel in Egypt was a particularly memorable BBC Promenade Concert – to the contemporary, his speciality is the late-romantic period; yet he has toured most of the world singing Arias in the St. Matthew Passion with Trevor Pinnock and The English Concert, with whom he also performed Purcell’s The Fairy Queen, conducted by Harry Bickett - his catalogue is truly catholic. Haydn’s Nelson Mass, Mozart’s Requiem and Solemn Vespers (in various parts of the USA) and Berlioz (L’Enfance du Christ, again a Prom with Sir JEG) were merely highlights amongst an oft-repeated list of Elgar (Gerontius – including performances in the Obecni Dum in Prague - The Kingdom and The Apostles – all three roles...though not at the same time yet), Brahms, Mahler (several performances of the 8th Symphony – one at the Royal Albert Hall), Dame Ethyl Smythe and much, much more. He has also given premieres of Cecilia McDowall’s Stabat Mater, Julian Phillips’ The Moving Image, Francis Grier's Missa Spiritus Sancti, Anne Collis' setting of Roald Dahl's story The Twits and Liz Lane's cantata for narrator, Baritone, Children's Choir Chorus and orchestra The Story of St. Alban.

For a more comprehensive list, visit Singers Direct.

His voice is like a chameleon: It can change style and colour effortlessly and at will.

Opera – Buffo, Bel Canto and beyond..!

In a professional stage career which began with Don Bartolo (Il Barbière di Siviglia) at the tender age of 22, MRB has encompassed most areas of the art form: Many performances of Baroque opera, most of the principle Mozart roles (Don Giovanni,Don Alfonso, Guiglielmo, Figaro, Il Conte and and Buff in The Impressario alongside Fenella Fielding), much Rossini and a good deal of Verdi (Don Carlo La Forza del Destino, Iago Othello, Germont Pere in La Traviata – many productions of this, including one of the French version Violetta - Rigoletto (etc.); he also gave what was only the second British performance of Massenet’s Therèse at the Cambridge Festival. He has appeared three times at the Opera House in Mauritius,and been under contract to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and has toured with Kent Opera, Music Theatre Wales and Scottish Opera-go-Round in their production of Offenbach’s The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein, appearing as General Boum!

He was a guest artist in Herbert Wernicke’s remarkable staging of Bach Cantatas in Basel – Actus Tragicus – conducted by Michael Hofstetter.

Alongside performances of La Traviata (the father, yet again, although strangely called Alfredo in the French version)) and Carmen (Escamillo, naturally) in Mauritius, he has also given the premieres of several British contemporary operas; notably Flowers by John Hardy for Music Theatre Wales....set in an abatoir it received such press headline reviews as Psycho Drama and...

...surely a comparitive!...

....Helen of Braemore by Eddie Maguire for the Northlands’ Festival (many venues on the North-East of Scotland and the South-West of Scandinavia....and the Royal Opera House in Stockholm...attended by seven people, one of whom was the company director, another Elisabeth Sõderstrom), and an important character role in Robert Saxton’s The Wandering Jew, broadcast by the BBC in 2010.

Then came Noam Sheriff...

Whilst having such an enviable repertoire (over 40 solo roles, not including the one-liners!) in a career which has taken him around the globe, MRB considered his operatic appearances were too time-consuming: He resolved to pause his stage career with a performance of Verdi’s Rigoletto in the Linbury Studio of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. This was not to be the final curtain, however. Fate took control, and so he decided to take his final bow after a revival of Lampe’s The Dragon of Wantley with Opera Restor’d (conducted by Gary Cooper and the Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin) at the 2009 Potsdam Early Music Festival - the silly one in blue with the large hat!.

Even this was not to suffice, for he was to give the première of Noam Sheriff’s opera Golem 13 at the Narodni Divadlo in Prague, playing the pivotal role of the Rabbi (the one on the left with the false beard...but his own grey hair!).

A few 'video sound-bites' are available on YouTube - just search for Golem 13.

Who knows what fate may yet have in store...?

Has he come so far from this performance as Don Alfonso (Cosi fan Tutte) in 1979? Not his own grey hair on this occasion...nor even a silly moustache.

Is this all too serious?

He has broadcast, for BBC Radio 2, the roles of Olin Britt (Music Man) and Mr Lindquist (A Little Night Music) and has recorded with Roger Waters, of Pink Floyd fame: He appeared as narrator in Tubby the Tuba in Symphony Hall, Birmingham, and alongside Tyn Daly (the American detective of Cagney and Lacey) in a production of Cole Porter's Anything Goes in Manchester: Not only this, but he once sang the famous duet from Lehar’s The Merry Widow live on BBC radio with Sarah Brightman, on condition that he did not stand on her train...these things look good on radio!

Recitals and lectures – Musical Food for Thought?

In addition to being busy on the stage and in the recording studio, MRB still likes to find time for recitals and more informal musical activities. Being a devotee of obscure French Song he has appeared at many venues and festivals, including St. John’s Smith Square and the Presteigne Festival, with crossover appearances at the Kingston Frobenius Organ Festival (well, his speciality is songs by organists!) and the Kingston Festival of the Voice. As part of his ‘evangelisation’ on behalf of Messrs Widor, Vierne and Tournemire, he has given many lecture-recitals demonstrating their works, with such titles as...

Fauré’s a Jolly Good Fellow...but what about Widor?

Filled with a Vision of Eternity - the Unknown Vocal Works of CharlesTournemire.

He has even lectured on the use of Plainchant in choral music, both large and small-scale compositons.

He also devised a series of eight recitals for voices and instruments - Echoes of Albion - which included every song that Ralph Vaughan Williams composed (in honour of the fiftieth anniversay of his death)...and a few extra ditties as well!

A further book Last but Lost – The History of the Organ in St. John the Divine, Richmond, and other organs by William Thynne – is still on the back-burner!

Lest you should think that this is all far too highbrow, he has also given a lecture-recital on music and food – If Music be the Love of Food – which demonstrates his other love...cooking, if not eating. He has a large collection of books on this subject – as many as on music – and reads them like novels: How to carve a leg of lamb properly was one of the many things that he learnt from Geoffrey Parsons (one of the 20th century's greatest accompanists, and long-term partner of MRB's singing teacher, Erich Vietheer). However MRB, not being terribly keen on washing-up, has no books on this subject at all! There is a long-suffering resident dishwasher, though, who shares an interest in crosswords.

If you love food you must love the French, and therefore French Music...(well, you wouldn’t have got this far otherwise)...which leads naturally to Widor – a consummate aesthete, performer, composer, gourmet and general bon viveur (not the impression given by most of his photographs!) – and there’s still more...


Reviews Recordings Publications And so...