Leigh Melrose

Leigh Melrose, “the specialist of 20th-century opera’ (The Financial Times), has carved out a formidable reputation for the performance of new works and dramatic 20th century repertoire. A wonderfully dynamic artist in both operas and concerts, his performances as Wozzeck (Opernhaus Zürich and English National Opera); Enescu’s Œdipe (Komische Oper Berlin), Alberich Das Rheingold (Wiener Staatsoper, Ruhrtriennale and English National Opera) Clov in the world premiere of György Kurtág's Fin de Partie (Teatro alla Scala, Opéra de Paris and Dutch National Opera) and Prospero in Thomas Adès’ The Tempest (Teatro Alla Scala) have earned wide critical and public acclaim.

In the 2023/24 season he makes anticipated returns to Ruhrtriennale as Šiškov in a new production by Dimitri Tcherniakov of Janáček’s From the House of the Dead and to Teatro alla Scala as Ned Keene in a new Peter Grimes directed by Robert Carson. He also makes two hugely exciting role debuts, as Don Pizarro Fidelio at the Staatsoper Hamburg, and Beckmesser Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the Teatro Real in a new production by acclaimed French director Laurent Pelly.
Last season included a series of very exciting projects and role debuts: as Prospero in Thomas Adès’ The Tempest at Teatro alla Scala; Richard Nixon in John Fulljames’s new production of Nixon in China at Teatro Real; Šiškov in Krzysztof Warlikowski’s new production of From the House of the Dead at the Fondazione Teatro dell’Opera di Roma; and the world premiere of Héctor Parra’s Orgia, after Pier Paolo Pasolini’s play in a project imagined by Calixto Bieto at the Teatro Arriaga Antzokia in Bilbao. He also performed Alberich in Richard Jones’ much-anticipated new production of Das Rheingold at the ENO to an overwhelmingly positive public and critical reception. In concert, Melrose also reprised the role of Alberich with the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra.

Other recent highlights include a hugely acclaimed debut in the title role of Enescu’s Œdipe in a new production at the Komische Oper Berlin; Nekrotzar in a new production of Ligeti Le Grand Macabre in Zürich; debuts at Staatsoper Stuttgart as Alberich Das Rheingold and the Opéra national de Paris as Clov Fin de Partie; Ruprecht in Calixto Bieito’s production of Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel at Teatro Real and Kajin in Bieito’s new production of Rudi Stephan’s Die ersten Menschen at Dutch National Opera.

One of the most sought-after interpreters of contemporary music, Leigh Melrose has given many world premieres, including Louis Andriessen’s exhilarating Theatre of the World at Dutch National Opera and with the Los Angeles Philharmonic; Dai Fujikura’s Solaris – a co-production between Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Opéra de Lille and Opéra de Lausanne; Johannes Kalitzke’s Die Besessenen at Theater an der Wien; Elliot Carter’s On Conversing with Paradise at the Aldeburgh Festival under Oliver Knussen (also nominated for a Gramophone Award for ‘Best Contemporary Album’); Luca Francesconi’s Quartett at Royal Opera House; and Evan in James MacMillan’s The Sacrifice at Welsh National Opera. Other performances include his debut at the Maggio Musicale Festival in Florence singing Rihm’s Der maler träumt; the title role in Birtwistle’s Gawain with BBC Symphony Orchestra; Matthias Pintscher’s Songs from Solomon’s Garden with the Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris conducted by the composer; Rambo in the Channel 4 television film of John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer; Michael Collins in Jonathan Dove’s TV opera Man on the Moon for Channel 4; Punch in Birtwistle’s Punch and Judy in Porto; Xenakis’ Ais with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms and Berlin Festival; Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Martyrdom of St Magnus at the composer’s St Magnus Festival in Orkney, Edinburgh, and Inverness; Maxwell-Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King with the Orquesta de Cadaqués in Madrid, with the London Sinfonietta at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, with BIT20 in Bergen and with the Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra; Michael Finnissy’s Maldon with the London Sinfonietta at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the world premiere of Martin Suckling’s Candlebird, also with the London Sinfonietta under Nicholas Collon.