A native of New Zealand Simon O'Neill has rapidly established himself as one of the leading helden-tenors on the international stage. He is a principal artist with the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, La Scala and both the Bayreuth and Salzburg Festivals appearing with a number of illustrious conductors including James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Valery Gergiev, Antonio Pappano, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Colin Davis, Daniele Gatti, Edo de Waart, Bertrand de Billy, Donald Runnicles and Pietari Inkinen.
Simon’s performances as Siegmund in Die Walküre at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden with Pappano, La Scala with Barenboim and at the Metropolitan Opera with Runnicles were performed to wide critical acclaim. He was described in the international press as "an exemplary Siegmund, terrific of voice", "THE Wagnerian tenor of his generation" and "a turbo-charged tenor". Notable debuts have included; the Bayreuth Festival in the title roles of Lohengrin with Nelsons (2010) and Parsifal with Gatti (2011), The Metropolitan Opera (2006) as the Gran Sacerdote in Idomeneo with Levine, the Royal Opera House (2005) Jenik in The Bartered Bride with Mackerras, the Salzburg Festival (2005) in Die Zauberflöte with Muti and Australian Opera (2009) as Sergei in Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk with Armstrong.
In the summer of 2011 Simon returned to the Bayreuth Festival as the title role of Parsifal in the celebrated Stefan Herheim production. In 2010 he sang the title role in Lohengrin in the new Hans Neuenfels production at the Bayreuth Festival and Florestan in Fidelio at the Grafenegg Festival followed by Mahler's Symphony No.8 at the Edinburgh Festival. Simon opened La Scala's 10/11 season as Siegmund in Die Walküre with Barenboim. Other engagements include Cavaradossi in Tosca in Berlin and Hamburg, Fidelio at Houston Grand Opera and his debut at the Berlin Staatsoper as Siegmund. Simon also made his debut in the role of Siegfried in concert performances of Götterdämmerung with the Orquesta Sinfonica Galicia.
Engagements in the 11/12 season included Walter in Die Meistersinger at Covent Garden, Cavaradossi in Tosca in Hamburg, Florestan in Fidelio for Houston Grand Opera, Siegmund in Die Walkure at the Hamburg State Opera, Parsifal at Vienna Staatsoper and Nixon in China in San Francisco. Concerts included Missa Solemnis with the Boston Symphony with Kurt Masur at Carnegie Hall, concert performances of Fidelio with the National Symphony Orchestra, Der Freischütz with the London Symphony Orchestra and Christoph Eschenbach at the Kennedy Center, Die Walküre with Pietari Inkinen and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Gurrelieder at the London BBC Proms.
Engagements in the 12/13 season and beyond include Siegmund at the Royal Opera House, Houston Grand Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, as well as at La Scala and the Vienna, Bayerische and Deutsche Staatsopers and for the Metropolitan Opera New York. Simon will also perform Parsifal at Teatro Real Madrid and Covent Garden, Tosca in Tokyo, Otello and Götterdämmerung in Houston, Die Frau ohne Schatten at the Paris Opera, Fidelio in Hamburg and significant roles at the Metropolitan Opera. Concert appearances include Das Lied von der Erde in Strasbourg, Beethoven 9 at the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester, Glagolitic Mass with the Czech Philharmonic, and Die Walkure in concert with Japan Philharmonic Orchestra and in Berlin.
At extremely short notice Simon made his debut in the title role of Verdi’s Otello in concert at the Barbican with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Colin Davis (2009). His performance was widely acclaimed by critics, who described his musical and dramatic portrayal of the infamous protagonist as “thrilling”, “a triumph”, “an immense performance” “a tremendous debut in the title-role, giving notice that he is the best heroic tenor to emerge over the last decade.”
Simon has appeared in many of the world’s leading concert halls including Carnegie Hall for Das Lied von der Erde with Levine and The Met Orchestra, Florestan in Fidelio at both the Salzburg Festival and BBC Proms with Barenboim, Das Lied von der Erde and Parsifal at Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia with Pappano and Gatti, Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass with Dutoit at Tokyo’s NHK Hall and with Boulez in the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, Mahler’s Symphony No.8 at the Sydney Opera House with Ashkenazy and Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 for the reopening of London’s Royal Festival Hall. He also toured Europe with Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra performing Act I Die Walküre in concert. His discography includes his debut solo award winning album, Father and Son, Wagner Scenes and Arias (Lohengrin, Parsifal, Siegmund and Siegfried) with Pietari Inkinen and the NZSO for EMI, the title role of Otello with Sir Colin Davis with the LSO, Die Zauberflöte for the Salzburg Festival Mozart 25 DVD with Riccardo Muti, Mahler’s Symphony No.8 with Vladimir Ashkenanzy and the Sydney Symphony, Beethoven Symphony No.9 DVD with Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Frank Martin’s Der Sturm with the Netherlands Radio Symphony and Thierry Fischer and Chauson’s Le Roi Arthus with Leon Botstein and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
Simon O’Neill is an alumnus of the University of Otago, Victoria University of Wellington, the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard Opera Center. He is a Fulbright Scholar, was awarded the 2005 Arts Laureate of New Zealand and was a grand finalist in the 2002 Metropolitan Opera National Auditions returning as guest artist in 2007. He also appears on the 1998 New Zealand one-dollar performing arts postage stamp.