Brian Castles Onion

Brian Castles Onion


Brian Castles-Onion is one of Australia’s most exciting and best-known conductors and pianists.  He is described as ‘Exceptionally Brilliant’, ‘Dynamic’ and ‘Fabulous’.   After study abroad, he returned to Opera Australia in 1994 and was awarded the prestigious Churchill Fellowship to study conducting in Europe.  He has worked at New York’s Metropolitan Opera and the Rossini Festival in Italy, has been Artistic Director of Canterbury Opera in New Zealand and continues a long association with Opera Australia.

His conducting experience throughout Australia, Asia and New Zealand includes: La bohème, Faust, La Traviata, Les pêcheurs de perles, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Don Giovanni, Lucia di Lammermoor, Così fan tutte, Lucio Silla, Rinaldo, Les contes d’Hoffmann, The Telephone, Turandot, Norma, The Merry Widow, Lakmé, A Little Night Music, La forza del destino, Manon, The Mikado, Tosca, Carmen, Samson et Dahlia, Rigoletto, Carmen, Die Fledermaus, Iolanthe, The Pirates of Penzance, The Gondoliers, H.M.S. Pinafore and My Fair Lady.

In concert, Brian Castles-Onion is a celebrated compère as well as conductor.  He was on the podium for Opera Australia’s 40th Anniversary Gala and The Robert Allman Farewell Gala and conducted the Joan Sutherland State Memorial Service – which was broadcast internationally on television and radio.

His recital and concert appearances have seen him as conductor and pianist for Kiri Te Kanawa, Sumi Jo, Frederica von Stade, Placido Domingo, José Carreras and Geraldine Turner.  His recordings include The Stephen Sondheim Songbook, When We Met, Amoureuse, The Power of Love, Puccini Passion, Geraldine Turner – The Stephen Sondheim Songbook Volume Two, the soundtrack to the American film Harlem Aria and the new series on Désirée Records - Great Australian Voices: Nance Grant & Robert Allman.

Brian’s reputation as an international recording artist, orchestral arranger and broadcaster is legendary and he has appeared in cabaret in New York, Berlin, London and throughout Australia - where he also regularly appears on national television.  Brian is also a regular pianist/presenter on ABC television’s Play School – a position he adores!  His first book Losing the Plot in Opera (published by Exisle Publishing) was released internationally in 2008.  He made his New York Recital Debut in May 2009 and taught at Julliard School of Music in New York.

His 2011 conducting engagements included La bohème, The Mikado and La Traviata for Opera Australia, performances with the Adelaide, Christchurch and West Australian Symphony Orchestras and concerts with Kiri Te Kanawa and Sumi Jo.  In 2012, he conducted all performances of La Traviata – Opera Australia’s ‘Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour’ – and returned for their season of Carmen in 2013 as well as conducting Rigoletto and Don Giovanni for West Australian Opera. He conducts the 2014 New Year’s Eve Gala at the Sydney Opera House, OA’s Opera in the Domain, Tosca for West Australian Opera, Madama Butterfly – ‘Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour’, Carmen and Don Pasquale for Opera Australia in 2014.