Melrose is one of the great character singers of his voice type...

Opera Today

News & Plans

These are strange days and who knows when theatres and concert halls will re-open. As the world headed into lockdown, I was rehearsing Alberich with the Vienna Staatsoper but their Ring cycle was sadly cancelled. Inevitable further cancellations happened in Madrid and Budapest and so now I am happily at home for some wonderfully valuable time with my family and crazy cats.

Hopefully, this Autumn I will be performing in Oslo with a debut as Joseph De Rocher in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, followed by performances of Fin de Partie in Valencia and at the Proms. Looking further ahead, there will be (pandemic allowing) Golaud in Geneva and Enescu’s Oedipe with the Komische Oper in Berlin.

In these unsettled times it is perhaps better not to look too far ahead, but I can’t help but be excited about some of the plans in the pipeline next year and beyond. Fingers and toes firmly crossed.

Stay safe and best wishes, Leigh.


Der Schmied von Gent

Der Schmied von Gent is the last opera by the Austrian composer Franz Schreker. It was banned by the Nazis days after its premiere in 1932 and in February Opera Ballet Vlaanderen turned the spotlight on this forgotten opera, in a punchy new production directed by Ersan Montag.

It’s available to view on YouTube and

World Premiere of Whiteley at Opera Australia

Artist, rebel, Icon. Brett Whiteley burst onto the international art scene, all golden curls and bravado. He was dynamic, damaged, a big idea and a bold brush. Heroin was both muse and merciless master. Out of this tumultuous life spilled a messy array of brilliant artworks and astonishing self-reflection. In 2019, this Australian icon meets two of Australia’s most popular artists in a brand new work for the Australian stage: Whiteley, by Elena Kats-Chernin and Justin Fleming. Together they’ve created an opera to honour the life and work of a man who could not extricate his talent from his demons.

Casting British baritone and
contemporary music specialist
Leigh Melrose in the title role was a masterstroke. He sang with resounding strength and incisive clarity in an intensely expressive performance that captured Whiteley’s charismatic charm and his painful, doomed struggle with the darker angels of his nature.

The Australian

With tousled hair and a shambling mix of insouciant brilliance and existential anxiety, baritone Leigh Melrose sang and portrayed the precocious, sometimes unlovable Whiteley with a vocal range from wiry ferocity to ethereal dreaminess, spanning swaggering moments of elan and despair.

Sydney Morning Herald

Melrose is particularly impressive… There is long, languid stretching of the vowels, singing each syllable to its edge, thinning into ethereal transcendence and thickening into anger, and allowing cracking at the manic extremes – as Whiteley did with himself and his work. Melrose’s portrayal is intense and self-consumingly ferocious, and he carries this opera compellingly.


The world premiere at La Scala of Kurtag's Fin de Partie

György Kurtág, whose compositions left an indelible mark on the development of twentieth-century music, had never written an opera. At least, not until he had turned ninety. Applying his bare, concentrated, intensely expressive style to Samuel Beckett’s 1957 austere play, the world premiere was conducted in November 2018 by Markus Stenz and directed by Pierre Audi. Further performances were at Dutch National Opera in February.
György Kurtág

"Shuffling around nervously, Clov (the robustly gruff baritone Leigh Melrose) is characterized in jittery blots of music, as if he consists entirely of punctuation marks."
The New York Times

"...baritone Leigh Melrose [also deserves high praise] who made Clov's powerless anger truly uncomfortable to behold. Tightly wound and hobbling about savagely, at the end when Clov decides to abandon Hamm, or maybe not, he looked as if he were about to blow up."

Ruprecht - Rome

“Ruprecht è un intenso Leigh Melrose, rude e infoiato ma fragile e vinto”

La Repubblica

Nekrotzar - zürich

As Nekrotzar and with a voice as strong as his acting skills were convincing… Leigh Melrose stood at the pinnacle of an outstandingly gifted cast.


Die Soldaten - Madrid

“Leigh Melrose, que se deja la piel como Stolzius, al que confiere una gran entidad escénica y vocal”

El Pais

"Musically, it's astonishing. Melrose, giving the performance of a lifetime, charts Wozzeck's disintegration with unflinching veracity and an extraordinary expressive range that veers from lyrical intensity to snarl or eerie falsetto."

Wozzeck – The Guardian

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