Brian Castles-Onion is Australia’s most exciting and best-known opera conductor. He has been described as ‘Exceptionally Brilliant’, ‘Dynamic’ and ‘Fabulous’. 2016 performances for Opera Australia included Carmen, Opera in the Domain and the New Year’s Eve Gala; he also conducted the full season of Turandot (2016) – for Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour. In 2017, he conducts Madama Butterfly for Opera Australia and Carmen for Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour.
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 Dalila, 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 was a regular pianist/presenter on ABC television’s Play School – a position he adored! 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 most recent engagements include La bohème, The Mikado, Carmen, Don Pasquale and La traviata for Opera Australia; five consecutive seasons of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour (La traviata, Carmen, Madama Butterfly, Aida & Turandot), Tosca, Rigoletto and Don Giovanni for West Australian Opera and concerts with Kiri Te Kanawa, the Three Chinese Tenors, Sumi Jo, Opera in the Vineyards 2016 and the New Year's Eve Gala at the Sydney Opera House.