Simon O'Neil

Photo credit: Lisa Kohler

"...every great journey begins with a single step and in writing this note I have been fondly remembering the singing teachers who fostered my efforts over the years. For that reason I was absolutely delighted and thrilled to be invited to be patron of NEWZATS, an organization which brings together those singing teachers and mentors who provide the environment for those first singing steps and beyond, and who foster and mentor their students' development and for some, their career in singing. Thank you for allowing me the honor of being your patron...."

Simon is an alumnus of the University of Otago, Victoria University of Wellington, the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard Opera Center. He is a Fulbright Scholar, was awarded the 2005 Arts Laureate of New Zealand and was a grand finalist in the 2002 Metropolitan Opera National Auditions returning as guest artist in 2007. (He also appears on the 1998 New Zealand one-dollar performing arts postage stamp!)

He has rapidly established himself as one of the finest Helden-tenors on the international stage being a principal artist with Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, La Scala and both the Bayreuth and Salzburg Festivals appearing in the roles of Siegmund, Parsifal, Lohengrin, Gran Sacerdote, Jenik, Sergei, Tamino, Max, Florestan, Siegfried, Otello and Cavaradossi.

Over the past decade, Simon has worked with many of the world's foremost conductors, including James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Valery Gergiev, Antonio Pappano, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Colin Davis, Daniele Gatti, Edo de Waart, Bertrand de Billy, Donald Runnicles and Pietari Inkinen. His impressive discography includes his debut solo award winning album; Father and Son, Wagner Scenes and Arias.

In spite of a demanding and busy international schedule, Simon has always demonstrated a strong commitment to the development and progress of young NZ singers and musicians. This has been highlighted by his appointment as teaching fellow in 2012 at the New Zealand School of Music where he will be of immeasurable help to aspiring performers.