Byron Watson

Samling Artist Programme: 2004

Australian/British baritone Byron Watson completed an Honours Music degree at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama (GSMD), and the Opera School of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD), studying with Rudolf Piernay and Janice Chapman. He received scholarships from the Australian Opera Auditions Committee Inc., the GSMD Trust and the Ian Potter Foundation, the RSAMD International Endowment Trust and the Countess of Munster Trust.

Byron’s engagements in 2014 include a recital for ArtSong NSW entitled “The Schumanns – Love and Life in Letters and Song”. In 2013 his engagements included covering the role of Vicar Gedge in Albert Herring for Opera Australia and performing in Christmas Concerts with ArtSong NSW.  2012 performances included creating the role of Ray Clark in the world premiere of Midnight Son for Victorian Opera for which received nominations for both Green Room and Helpmann Awards, the baritone soloist in Bottesini’s Messa di Requiem at the Brisbane Festival and baritone soloist in Brahms German Requiem with Sydney University Graduate choir, and recitals around NSW.  Other recent credits include the quintet in the French premiere of Sweeney Todd at Le Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, which was broadcast live on Radio France, and the roles of Stubb in the Australian premiere of Jake Hegge’s Moby Dick and Moralès in Carmen for the State Opera of South Australia.

Other notable engagements include the roles of Mr Lindquist (whilst covering Anthony Warlow as Fredrik Egerman) in Opera Australia’s A Little Night Music and appearing as Harry (understudying Richard E Grant as Henry Higgins) in My Fair Lady with Opera Australia, which toured to Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney, and New Zealand. He also sang the role of Alessio, and one performance as Rodolfo in La Sonnambula for Pacific Opera, as well as the role of Walter Burley Griffin in Capitol with the Street Theatre, Canberra.

In the United Kingdom Byron sang the title role of Pig in the world premiere of Jonathan Dove’s opera, The Enchanted Pig, for the Young Vic Theatre Company, which toured nationally, and a concert with Thomas Adès and Northern Sinfonia. He also appeared on BBC Radio 3 In Tune with Jonathan Dove and as the Wolf/Cinderella’s Prince in Into the Woods, for ROH2 at Linbury Studio Theatre for the Royal Opera House. Byron made his film and television debut as Anthony in Tomorrow La Scala (based on Sweeney Todd), a BBC feature film which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section.

Byron sang in the Domain on Australia Day as part of the 2010 National Holiday celebrations, was a prize winner in the 2010 Australian-German Opera Grant, Melbourne, sang in the Highlights of Opera Concert for the Australian Opera Auditions Committee at the Sydney Opera House and in solo and joint concerts in Sydney and Orange, with Simon Kenway at the piano, and was broadcast on ABC Classic FM.  He continues to be a popular guest artist for Opera High Tea and Tour and Taste of Opera at Sydney Opera House.

Byron has also been a guest of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in Barony Hall in Glasgow, a baritone soloist in the Matthäus-Passion with the Northern Sinfonia under the direction of Sir Roger Norrington and similarly with the Glasgow Symphony Orchestra.  He also sang the role of Peter in Elgar’s The Kingdom with the Buxton Symphony Orchestra. He has given solo and joint recitals in the UK, Norway, Portugal and Australia, where he was broadcast on ABC television and radio. Byron also sang Prince Yamadori/Imperial Commissioner for Clonter Opera’s production of Madama Butterfly (whilst covering Sharpless) and sang Sciarrone in Tosca for English Touring Opera.

While studying at GSMD, Byron understudied Anthony in Sweeney Todd (directed by David McVicar) for Opera North, was a prize-winner of the Great Elm Vocal Awards, and was a finalist of the Kathleen Ferrier Bursary. Roles performed at the RSMAD included Count Almaviva (Edinburgh Festival Theatre), Demetrius, Don Inigo Gomez and Melisso.  Other roles performed in part include Onegin, Pandolfe (Cendrillon), Lescaut, Marcello, Papageno, Bottom, Guglielmo and Don Giovanni. Byron also received a full scholarship to attend the inaugural “Song in Collaboration” Summer School at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada, where he gave recitals and participated in masterclasses with Ian Burnside and Edith Wiens. He has participated in other masterclasses including Sir Thomas Allen and Samling, Donald Maxwell in association with the Friends of Scottish Opera, Martin Katz, Graham Johnson, Francois le Roux and Rosalind Plowright.