Some articles and reviews about Simon Keenlyside, 2007



November 2007

"It was no surprise that Mr. Keenlyside gave such a complex and volatile portrayal. A consummate stage artist, he made an entitled and preening Count: effete, yes, but in a strangely sexy way. His singing was as nuanced and contrary as his characterization, elegantly dignified one moment, bullishly impulsive the next. In encounters with Susanna he seemed as hormonal as the adolescent page Cherubino, here portrayed winningly by the vocally rich and dynamic mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey."--Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, reviewing Le Nozze di Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera, New York

October 11, 2007

Simon Keenlyside era galardonado ayer como el mejor recitalista de la temporada 2006-07 en los Premios que la crítica especializada otorga cada año convocada por Amics del Liceu de

October 3, 2007

Gluck's 'Iphigénie en Tauride', reviewed by ROBERT HUGILL

September 2007

The Royal Opera – Iphigénie en Tauride, review by Alexander Campbell for

Review by Dominic McHugh for


"In London, Graham is pitted against the athletic, charismatic Orestes of Simon Keenlyside, a huge favourite with the public here, who delivers powerfully, if not in his freshest voice, his nightmarish vision of Clytaemnestra’s ghost returning to haunt him. Both he and Paul Groves, a lyrical Pylades, gained lustre throughout the evening."--Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times


"Though their love is as chaste as the Bach gigue Gluck references in Iphigenia's final aria, 'Je t'implore et je tremble', Iphigenia (Susan Graham) is here a shivering, prematurely-aged girl-child, while Orestes (Simon Keenlyside) repeatedly writhes in horror at the memory of his matricide. When Diana (Cécile van de Sant) restores order, both siblings are left reeling by the magnesium-bright light that surrounds them.

"If the staging is too brutal, too didactic, the singing is largely seductive, most particularly from Paul Groves (a lyrical Pylades) and Jacques Imbrailo (Scythian). Orestes is a role Imbrailo might consider, as the simplicity of his singing would be a better fit for this part than Keenlyside's now over-mannered style."--Anna Picard, The Independent on Sunday



"In the title role, American mezzo Susan Graham gives what may well prove the performance of her career, despite the stringy wig obscuring her well-preserved, blonde-bombshell looks. As her brother, the perfect match for her lyric eloquence and stage virtuosity, Simon Keenlyside's athletic skills are unusually deployed in a horizontal walk along the walls."--Anthony Holden, The Observer


"Simon Keenlyside is Orestes, full on as ever, though he should beware that body language does not dictate feeling and thought, but rather the other way around."--Edward Seckerson, The Independent


"Baritone Simon Keenlyside is forceful as the priestess's brother Oreste, while occasionally sacrificing the elegance of French style for melodramatic gasps and groans. Sometimes his performance works, and sometimes it's way over the top. At least it's never boring."--Warwick Thompson,


"That we experience the work's power is due to the performers, though even here things are not plain sailing. In the title role, Susan Graham sounds beautiful but never anguished. The evening is carried by Ivor Bolton's lean, subtle conducting, and by Simon Keenlyside and Paul Groves as Oreste and Pylade."--Tim Ashley, The Guardian


"In the vital title role, Susan Graham is all too cool as the tormented daughter of Agamemnon who comes close to sacrificing her long-lost brother, Oreste, until his identity is revealed at the last minute. More vocal colour and variety are needed than she can supply.

"More of these qualities are to be found in Simon Keenlyside’s performance as her brother and Paul Groves’ interpretation of his friend Pylade. Their scenes come through with some impact."--George Hall, The Stage


"A stronger tragic actress in the title role could have made a difference - that nice, sunny, warm-voiced American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham failed to carve a deep true line through her wonderful Act 2 aria, and her declamation was vitiated by mushy French. Simon Keenlyside (Oreste) and Paul Groves (Pylade) both shouted more than they sang, turning their eloquent Act 3 duet into a militaristic bellow.

"The chorus sounded muted, and Ivor Bolton's conducting of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment was flaccid.

"Buy Marc Minkowski's enthralling Archiv recording if you want to experience this opera's power."--Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph


"Susan Graham’s Iphigenia starts with a tall figure and excellent French, neither of which she uses to advantage. She wanders the stage like Elektra’s alter ego, adopting stand-or-sit poses for her arias but never really delivering. The voice sounds unexpectedly pretty at the top but impersonal in the middle; she makes no effort to colour the text. On that score she could learn a thing or two from Simon Keenlyside, who has only to open his mouth or move an arm to shake up the performance. His Orestes, strongly supported by Paul Groves’s Pylades and Clive Bayley’s Thoas, offers a vision of what this Iphigénie could have been with a bit more meat on the slab."--Andrew Clark,


"Simon Keenlyside, stopped by a bad back from appearing in Chicago, fulfils expectations as the bloodied Oreste, blown by a storm into another Ancient Greek mess. He’s virile, anguished, physically ideal."--Geoff Brown, The Times


"The American soprano Susan Graham in the title role, ambiguous, disturbed and finally isolated, holds the stage with her statuesque presence, ripe, burnished tone and fiery grace. The most developed relationship, one of love and passionate friendship, is that between the two Greeks, Oreste and Pylade. Simon Keenlyside darted around the stage with characteristic athleticism and even greater vocal agility. Tenor Paul Groves was persuasive as Pylade, less tonally assured than Keenlyside but rising to the emotional demands."--Fiona Maddocks, Evening Standard


"As the lookalike friends who take male bonding to an extreme, each pleading to die for the other, Paul Groves and Simon Keenlyside exude both masculinity and vulnerability. Keenlyside's Oreste is like a tortured animal, screwing himself into knots of agony as his psychological furies tear him apart. Ever demonstrative, he levitates and walks across a vertical wall while singing. American Tenor Groves as Pylades sings some of the most lyrical material in the work with great loveliness."--Simon Thomas reviewing Covent Garden Iphigénie en Tauride for


"Pourtant, quelques minutes de surprise et un froncement de sourcil septique plus tard, la musique prend le pas sur cette sensation d’oppression, portée par l’interprétation des solistes. Simon Keelyside, saisissant dans le rôle d’Oreste, le frère d’Iphigénie, est véritablement la révélation de ce casting aux côtés du ténor Paul Groves (Pylade, ami d’Oreste). Dément, il souffre, se jette contre le sol et marche sur les murs tout en chantant, porté à bout de bras par les danseurs. Une véritable prouesse vocale. Voix parfaitement timbrée, diction parfaite et dimension tragique : le baryton britannique campe un Oreste flirtant avec la folie et touchant de désespoir, notamment dans « Le calme rentre dans mon cœur » au second acte. L’histoire raconte que, lors d’une répétition en 1779, les musiciens, intrigués par le décalage entre les paroles de la partition et l’orchestre qui continue d’exprimer l’agitation des pensées d’Oreste, s’arrêtèrent. « Continuez de même », se serait écrié Gluck. « Il ment. Il a tué sa mère. » Une nuance que Keelyside réussit ici à interpréter avec brio. Son jeu scénique est convaincant, même si la gestuelle torturée de l’assassin de Clytemnestre n’est parfois pas sans rappeler les tics d’un certain… Jœ Cocker."--Alexandra Feytis,



"La producción al tiempo sencilla y sofisticada de Carsen (que fue recibida al final con algunos abucheos y bravos, entre los últimos el mío más sonoro) contó con el apoyo impagable de un reparto de buenos actores. La ‘Iphigénie’ de Susan Graham mostró una enorme calidad vocal. Su canto me hipnotizó desde el principio de la ópera por su perfecta combinación de precisión y pasión. Luego estaba el atormentado ‘Oreste’ de Simon Keenlyside, un personaje que el barítono encarnó con un lado verista (casi gritando). Su ‘ami’ estuvo cantado por Paul Groves, cuya estupenda interpretación de ‘Pylade’ exudó amor y devoción por ‘Oreste’. Los secundarios y el coro estuvieron excelentes, como es habitual."--Enrique Sacau,


Intermezzo blog

The Teeenage Theatre Critic


September 8, 2007

Article by Nicholas Wroe for


1 September 2007
Susan Graham spoke for an interview with Dominic McHugh of about upcoming performances of Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride at Royal Opera, Covent Garden. Excerpt from the article: "One of the big draws of the forthcoming performances is the presence in the cast of English baritone Simon Keenlyside – a favourite at the House and a favourite with Susan Graham too, it seems. 'Simon and I have worked together for years and it's always a joy to see him again. We haven't worked together in a while and it was wonderful on the first day of rehearsals to come back in and pick up where we left off. He is so brilliant in this role. Simon has such depth and such a very vivid inner life. I watched him in rehearsal today; the whole opera is a mad scene for Orest on one level, and Simon is also a little mad, so it works out very well! He's one of the people in our profession whom I admire the most because by doing little, he can do so much. The way that he sings something while staring blankly into space: you can see lifetimes going on in his head, and you suddenly realise that it's not a blank expression at all. And the sound of his voice is so rich and beautiful and expressive. In this music, that's key to the success of the performance.' "


"For slightly later repertoire, Minkowski's reading of Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride (Archiv), with Simon Keenlyside and Mireille Delunsch, is a recording too stunning to leave off this list."--Judith Malafronte, critic and frequent Opera News contributor, quoted in article by Louise T. Guinther for Opera News of August 2007, for which experts in the field were asked their personal choices for the top-five Baroque vocal recordings.


From reviews of staged performances of Schumann's Scenes from Goethe’s Faust, at the Zürich Opernhaus, June 24, 26, 28, & 30, 2007

In his first new production since being named music director of the Vienna Staatsoper, the house's general music director, Welser-Möst, led a magnificent performance in what was a surely a labor of love, with a splendid contribution from the chorus. Simon Keenlyside was in superlative form in the dual role of Faust/Doctor Marianus, his fine baritone often ringing out energetically yet always phrased with an artistry that underscored the essential oneness of Schumann's writing for voice here and in his Lieder. Malin Hertelius's soprano was perhaps a little on the dark side for Gretchen, but she nicely conveyed the girl's fragility. She was touching in the "he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not" episode and later in the Cathedral Scene as she faces forces beyond her control. Günther Groissböck intoned Mephisto's lines with a menacing, powerfully resonant bass and reappeared with equal effectiveness in the benign guise of Pater Profundus. Eva Liebau's soprano served nicely for another of Faust's nemeses, Worry. And the tenor Roberto Saccà sang handsomely as Ariel and Pater Ecstaticus.

George Loomis,

Wenigstens singt der Chor seine Sätze mit Transparenz und Leuchtkraft. Beim Orchester unter Franz Welser-Möst sind dagegen klangliche Einbußen zu entdecken. Auch wenn er mit seinem hoch gelobten Ensemble über weite Strecken einen duftigen, federnden Klang hinbekommt - in den Details und der Koordination hapert es immer wieder. Die Aufführung rettet vor allem Simon Keenlyside als Faust. Sein Bariton ist vielschichtiger als die Inszenierung. Malin Hartelius (Gretchen) verbindet lyrische Innigkeit mit musikalischer Feinzeichnung, Günther Groissböck haucht Mephisto tiefschwarzes Leben ein. Eine konzertante Aufführung aber wäre für alle Beteiligte wohl die bessere Wahl gewesen.

George Rudiger,

Indes, was das Opernhaus an Sängerinnen und Sängern aufbot, die meisten aus dem Ensemble, das durfte sich hören und sehen lassen. Malin Hartelius berührend in Gretchens Gesang, Günther Groissböck ein stimmlich imposanter Mephisto, obschon dieser Rolle ja bei Schumann arg die Zähne gezogen sind, Ruben Drole mit jugendlicher Kraft als Pater Seraphicus, Roberto Saccà als Ariel leider eine Fehlbesetzung - viel zu belcantohaft!. Dafür Eva Liebau souverän als Sorge und schließlich rundum wunderbar Simon Keenlyside als Faust. Körperlich entspannt aber stets präsent glättete er die oft holperigen Übergänge der Inszenierung, erstaunte immer wieder mit seinem Körperbewusstsein ja gar tänzerischen Qualitäten, ganz zu schweigen von seiner vokalen Performance, die von samt-zarten Piano-Höhen bis zupackendes Forte alles bot, wobei es ihm in allererster Linie um Text, Sprachverständlichkeit und klare Diktion ging.

Gabriela Kaegi,


May 2007, excerpts from, and links to, reviews of Pelléas et Mélisande, Royal Opera, Covent Garden

May 6, 2007, article by Hugh Canning at


From review of April 9, 2007, concert performance of Robert Schumann's  Scenes from Goethe’s Faust, at the Zürich Tonhalle

Kein Superlativ wäre zu hoch gegriffen, um Simon Keenlyside als Faust und Dr. Marianus zu würdigen. Ein Prachtsbariton mit heldisch-virilem Ambitus; ein Sänger, der Goethes Verse derart vorbildlich sprach, dass Singen und Sagen bei ihm ganz eins wurden. Und was für grossartige Musik darf dieser Faust singen! Diesem wahrlich herausragenden Sänger gegenüber hatten die anderen keinen leichten Stand. Dem Gretchen von Malin Hartelius mangelte es zwar nicht an emotionaler Inbrunst, aber letztlich an der vokalen Durchschlagskraft. Günther Groissböcks Mephisto wirkte nicht nur gestisch (bis in den kleinen Finger), sondern oft auch stimmlich etwas verkrampft; und Roberto Saccàs Ariel (und Pater Ecstaticus) war mit zuviel Vibrato belastet. Daran liesse sich vielleicht noch etwas arbeiten. Denn im Juni, anlässlich der Zürcher Festspiele, wird das Opernhaus Schumanns «Faust-Szenen» auf die Bühne bringen, dannzumal (und wohl zum ersten Mal in der Rezeptionsgeschichte des Werks überhaupt) als veritable Oper. Wir werden wieder dabei sein.

Werner Pfister, Der Zürcher Oberländer

For English translation, see




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Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble, Marc Minkowski & Simon Keenlyside - Gluck: Iphigénie en Tauride - Iphigénie en Tauride: Air. "Le calme rentre dans mon coeur" (USA)
Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble, Marc Minkowski & Simon Keenlyside - Gluck: Iphigénie en Tauride - Iphigénie en Tauride: Air. "Le calme rentre dans mon coeur"