Leigh Melrose has carved out a formidable reputation for the performance of new works. A wonderfully dynamic artist on both the concert and opera platform, Melrose is also in demand for core repertoire by composers such as Brahms, Britten, Mozart, Berg and Mahler.
A graduate of St John’s College, Cambridge, and the Royal Academy of Music, Melrose’s opera engagements have taken him all over the world. He has sung the title role of Wozzeck in a new production at English National Opera and Salzburg Landestheater; Papageno Die Zauberflöte for Seattle Opera, Demetrius A Midsummer Night’s Dream for La Monnaie; Escamillo Carmen in the UK premiere of Calixo Bieito’s production at ENO and at the Royal Albert Hall and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Sakari Oramo; Figaro Il Barbiere di Siviglia for New York City Opera; Silvio I Pagliacci for Welsh National Opera; Britten’s Death in Venice at the Liceu, Barcelona; Papageno and Marcello La bohème for Opera Zuid; Sid Albert Herring for the Salzburger Landestheater, Opéra Comique and Opéra de Rouen; Ned Keene Peter Grimes for Vlaamse Opera and Opera Oviedo; the title role in Eugene Onegin, Longborough Festival Opera; and Tadeusz The Passenger, Ned Keene, Papageno, Bormenthal A Dog’s Heart, Count Marriage of Figaro, Rodolfo in Leoncavallo’s La bohème and Junius The Rape of Lucretia all for English National Opera.
Leigh Melrose has given many world premieres including Cholawicki in Johannes Kalitzke’s Die Besessenen at Theater an der Wien, Elliot Carter’s On Conversing with Paradise at the Aldeburgh Festival under Oliver Knussen, and Evan in James MacMillan’s new opera The Sacrifice at Welsh National Opera, all to critical acclaim. On Conversing with Paradise was recorded and released on the Bridge label, and subsequently nominated for a Gramophone Award for ‘Best Contemporary Album’.
Other performances of contemporary repertoire include his debut at the prestigious Maggio Musicale festival in Florence singing Rihm’s Der maler träumt; Matthias Pintscher’s 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 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, Orkney, in Edinburgh and Inverness; Maxwell-Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King with the Orquesta de Cadaqués in Madrid and the London Sinfonietta at the Queen Elizabeth Hall; 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.
Melrose has also performed Walton Belshazzar’s Feast, Berlioz Symphony No.3 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra; Britten Canticles at the Liceu Barcelona and with Roger Vignoles at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Wigmore Hall in London; Carmina Burana at the Royal Festival Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Usher Hall and with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland; Beethoven Symphony No.9 under Sir Neville Marriner with the Orquesta de Cadaqués, and concerts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Vassily Petrenko, the Hebrides Ensemble, the Philharmonia Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen in London and Paris, the London Symphony Orchestra under Sir Colin Davis, the Northern Sinfonia and Thierry Fischer, and the City of London Sinfonia with Richard Hickox. At the BBC Proms he has performed Britten Cantata Misericodium with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, De Falla’s La Vida Breve and Sir Richard Cholmondeley in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Yeomen of the Guard.
Last season he was heard at the Royal Opera House, in the UK premiere of Luca Francesconi's Quartett and in the title role of Birtwistle's Gawain with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He made debut at the Venice Biennale and Auditorio Nacional Madrid premiering a new work by Fabian Panisello, and sang Noah's Fludde with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Zimmerman's Requiem fuer einen jungen Dichter with HR Sinfonie at Frankfurt Alte Oper. Other engagements included the world premiere of Raymond Deane’s The Alma Fetish for Wide Open Opera, a concert appearance with the Oslo Filharmonien and Baldur Brönniman, Eight Songs for a Mad King with the Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra, and a return to the role of Ned Keene Peter Grimes in ENO’s revival of David Alden’s acclaimed production.
In 2014/15 Leigh Melrose premieres Dai Fujikura’s opera Solaris, a co-production between Theatre de Champs Elysees, Opéra de Lille and Opéra de Lausanne. He returns to Teatro Real, Madrid as The Traveller Death in Venice and also returns to ENO as Sonora in a new production of La Fanciulla del West and reprises the role of Escamillo in the revival of Carmen. On the concert platform he makes his debut at Lucerne Festival with Songs from Solomon’s Garden and with Philharmonie de Paris with Requiem fuer einem Jungen Dicther, both under the musical direction of Matthias Pintscher.