Indian-Scottish Neil Balfour is a graduate of Leeds College of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) and the National Opera Studio. He started life as a pianist, conductor and punk-rocker before having a Damascus moment and falling in love with classical singing. A former Britten-Pears, Samling, Momentum and Concordia artist, he is the first opera singer to be booked by the Glastonbury Festival in the Astrolabe Tent and the first to beatbox in an opera at Longborough Festival Opera.
In the 2022/23 season Neil makes his American debut as Father Thumbprint for Portland Opera (Oregon), Safin The Shoemaker (world premiere) for Welsh National Opera, Pluto/Shepherd/Infernal Spirit L’Orfeo for Longborough Festival Opera, Eustache The Six of Calais (world premiere) for Pegasus Opera, title role in Der Diktator for the Northern Opera Group and soloist in Alice Through the Looking Glass (world premiere) for the London Symphony Orchestra. He was a finalist in the 2022 Voice of Black Opera (VOBO) Awards presented by the BBCF and Welsh National Opera, and performs a Schumann recital tour for Oxford Lieder and a concert tour of Veneto (Italy).
Operatic roles include Prince Yamadori Madama Butterfly (Welsh National Opera); Colline La bohème (Mananan Opera & OFMAN Madrid Opera Studio); Mercurio La Calisto (Longborough Festival Opera); Don Alfonso Così fan tutte, Quince A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Lord Ellington La vie Parisienne (RNCM); Dottore La traviata (Devon Opera); Cold Genius King Arthur (Glastonbury Festival); Mustafà L’italiana in Algeri and Don Pasquale Don Pasquale (Mananan Opera); Claggart Billy Budd Re-imagined (The Royal Opera House L&P Department), nationwide tours of Aida and Fidelio (Chorus of Opera North). He was a Young Artist for Buxton International Festival.
Contemporary opera roles created for Neil include Ibn Al-Haytham Al-Haytham’s light and Texy/Everywhere Back into the world (English Touring Opera); Jean Arp Sophie (Tête à Tête Opera festival); Father Mysterious 44 (the first electronic opera); Dad/La-La A shoe full of stars (YAM Awards Best Opera 2018) and Punch Crocodile (a dark-web animated opera).
Concert performances have included Gershwin Porgy & Bess (Leeds Philharmonic Orchestra), a joint recital with Roderick Williams (Thaxted Festival), a Sondheim recital (Oxford Lieder) as well as an eclectic mix of song recitals for Leeds Lieder, &Piano, Britten-Pears Arts and the Leeds Opera Festival.
Neil is the first classical artist for sE Electronics and NORD (microphones & digital pianos), director of ArtSongStory (creating videos of art-song) and founder of the Koko Koncerts (classical stars in a coffee shop). He is also in partnership with creative perfumer Christian Provenzano, Kapow meggings and VivoBarefoot shoes. His work as a voiceover artist has had over 100 million plays.