Dennis O'Neill (tenor)

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Album cover of Caro Mio Ben (1986) Caro Mio Ben, album cover.jpg
Album cover of Caro Mio Ben (1986)

Dennis O'Neill CBE (born 25 February 1948) is a Welsh operatic tenor and recording artist.

Wales Country in northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline and is largely mountainous, with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon, its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate.

Opera artform combining sung text and musical score in a theatrical setting

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.

Tenor is a male voice type in classical music whose vocal range lies between the countertenor and baritone. The tenor's vocal range extends up to C5. The low extreme for tenors is roughly A2 (two As below middle C). At the highest extreme, some tenors can sing up to the second F above middle C (F5). The tenor voice type is generally divided into the leggero tenor, lyric tenor, spinto tenor, dramatic tenor, heldentenor, and tenor buffo or spieltenor.


Early career

Born in Pontarddulais, to Welsh and Irish parents, he studied privately with Professor Frederic Cox (Principal of the Royal Northern College of Music) in Manchester and then in London. At the age of 19 he spent the summer as an apprentice singer at the Opera Barga Festival in Tuscany, which confirmed his ambition to become an opera singer. [1] Later, after a Royal Society of Arts award, he returned to Italy to study with Ettore Campogalliani in Mantua and Luigi Ricci in Rome. [2]

Pontarddulais town in the City and County of Swansea

Pontarddulais is a community and town in the City and County of Swansea, Wales, situated 10 miles (16 km) northwest of Swansea city centre and falls within the Pontarddulais ward.

Welsh people nation and ethnic group native to Wales

The Welsh are a Celtic nation and ethnic group native to, or otherwise associated with, Wales, Welsh culture, Welsh history and the Welsh language. Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom, and the majority of people living in Wales are British citizens.

Irish people Ethnic group with Celtic and other roots, native to the island of Ireland, with shared history and culture

The Irish are a Celtic nation and ethnic group native to the island of Ireland, who share a common Irish ancestry, identity and culture. Ireland has been inhabited for about 12,500 years according to archaeological studies. For most of Ireland's recorded history, the Irish have been primarily a Gaelic people. Anglo-Normans conquered parts of Ireland in the 12th century, while England's 16th/17th-century (re)conquest and colonisation of Ireland brought a large number of English and Lowland Scots people to parts of the island, especially the north. Today, Ireland is made up of the Republic of Ireland and the smaller Northern Ireland. The people of Northern Ireland hold various national identities including British, Irish, Northern Irish or some combination thereof.

Professional career

In his time, Dennis O'Neill has been connected with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London and the Welsh National Opera, Cardiff, Wales. He has given regular guest performances at the Metropolitan Opera New York, in Chicago, San Francisco, Zurich, Paris, Brussels, Vienna, Verona, Munich and Australia. [3]

The surname O'Neill is of Irish Gaelic origin, spelling variations include O'Neal, O'Neil, Ó Neill, Ó Néill, Ua Néill, Uí Néill and Neill.

Royal Opera House opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London

The Royal Opera House (ROH) is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet, and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Originally called the Theatre Royal, it served primarily as a playhouse for the first hundred years of its history. In 1734, the first ballet was presented. A year later, Handel's first season of operas began. Many of his operas and oratorios were specifically written for Covent Garden and had their premieres there.

Welsh National Opera (WNO) is an opera company based in Cardiff, Wales; it gave its first performances in 1946. It began as a mainly amateur body and transformed into an all-professional ensemble by 1973. In its early days the company gave a single week's annual season in Cardiff, gradually extending its schedule to become an all-year-round operation, with its own salaried chorus and orchestra. It has been described by The New York Times as "one of the finest operatic ensembles in Europe".

In the opera world, O'Neill is perhaps best known as a Verdi exponent. He performs song recitals and oratorios, especially the tenor part of the Verdi Requiem. In 2005 he was awarded the Verdi Medal by the Amici di Verdi. O'Neill is committed to the education of younger opera singers, and in Spring 2007 he became the director of the Cardiff International Academy of Voice. [2]

Giuseppe Verdi 19th-century Italian opera composer

Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was an Italian opera composer. He was born near Busseto to a provincial family of moderate means, and developed a musical education with the help of a local patron. Verdi came to dominate the Italian opera scene after the era of Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti, and Gioachino Rossini, whose works significantly influenced him. By his 30s, he had become one of the pre-eminent opera composers in history.

O'Neill's recording career includes many solo albums and operas. He has performed on video film with Kiri te Kanawa and the conductor Georg Solti. [2]

Georg Solti Hungarian orchestral and operatic conductor

Sir Georg Solti, was a Hungarian-born orchestral and operatic conductor, best known for his appearances with opera companies in Munich, Frankfurt and London, and as a long-serving music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Born in Budapest, he studied there with Béla Bartók, Leó Weiner and Ernő Dohnányi. In the 1930s, he was a répétiteur at the Hungarian State Opera and worked at the Salzburg Festival for Arturo Toscanini. His career was interrupted by the rise of the Nazis' influence on Hungarian politics, and being of Jewish background he fled the increasingly harsh Hungarian anti-Jewish laws in 1938. After conducting a season of Russian ballet in London at the Royal Opera House he found refuge in Switzerland, where he remained during the Second World War. Prohibited from conducting there, he earned a living as a pianist.

A generation before his fellow-Welshman Bryn Terfel, O'Neill was a regular face on British TV. He has presented two TV shows, Dennis O'Neill (1987) and Dennis O'Neill and Friends (1989), amongst other TV performances, such as the title role in Faust and Alfred in Die Fledermaus .

Bryn Terfel Welsh bass-baritone

Sir Bryn Terfel Jones, is a Welsh bass-baritone opera and concert singer. Terfel was initially associated with the roles of Mozart, particularly Figaro and Don Giovanni, but has subsequently shifted his attention to heavier roles, especially those by Wagner.

<i>Faust</i> (opera) Grand opera in five acts by Charles Gounod

Faust is an opera in five acts by Charles Gounod to a French libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré from Carré's play Faust et Marguerite, in turn loosely based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust, Part One. It debuted at the Théâtre Lyrique on the Boulevard du Temple in Paris on 19 March 1859, with influential sets designed by Charles-Antoine Cambon and Joseph Thierry, Jean Émile Daran, Édouard Desplechin, and Philippe Chaperon.

<i>Die Fledermaus</i> comic operetta in three acts by Johann Strauss II

Die Fledermaus is an operetta composed by Johann Strauss II to a German libretto by Karl Haffner and Richard Genée.

In 2006 O'Neill performed as Eleazar in La Juive (The Jewess) in a Royal Opera concert in the Barbican concert hall, London. [4] It was his 43rd visit to the Royal Opera House. [5] In 2000 he was appointed a CBE.

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  1. Adrian Mourby, Dennis O'Neill: Barga - the town that changed my life, The Independent , November 25, 2007.
  2. 1 2 3 "".
  3. "Ammanford And District Choral Society" . Retrieved 2007-10-11.
  4. "La Juive - Opera Review". 2006-09-25. Retrieved 2007-10-11.
  5. " (Interview)".