Artist Biography

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New Zealand Bass Baritone, Paul Whelan is a winner of the Cardiff Singer of the World Lieder Prize. Conductors with whom he has collaborated include Sir Simon Rattle, Kent Nagano, Richard Hickox, Yehudi Menuhin, Valery Gergiev, Gary Bertini, and Vassily Sinaisky; he has given recitals at Wigmore Hall, The Purcell Room, Cardiff’s St David’s Hall, Cheltenham Festival, BBC Pebble Mill, Perth Festival and at the Chátelet Theatre in Paris.

He is a frequent guest with Opera Australia, with whom he has sung Onegin, Don Giovanni, Count Almaviva, Chorebe (Les Troyens), Orestes (Iphigénie en Tauride), Wolfram (Tannhäuser), Golaud (Pelléas et Mélisande), Germont (La Traviata), Billy Budd (MO and Green Room Awards), the title role in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd (Helpmann Award) and the seven baritone roles in Death in Venice (Helpmann Award), Mandryka (Arabella), Pizarro, Balstrode (Peter Grimes) and Macbeth (Macbeth).

Highlights of Paul’s international career include the title role in Bluebeard’s Castle (NBR Opera New Zealand), Four Villains | Les Contes d’Hoffmann (Southern Opera),  Argante | Handel’s Rinaldo (Munich), Apollon | Gluck’s Alceste (Dresden Festival), a staged production of Bach’s St. John Passion (directed by Deborah Warner), Schaunard in a new production of Leoncavallo’s La bohème, Raimondo | Lucia di Lammermoor (English National Opera), Escamillo | Carmen (Welsh National Opera), Harry Joy | Bliss (Hamburg State Opera), the world premieres of The Assassin Tree by Stuart MacRae (Royal Opera House and the Edinburgh Festival), and Bird of Night by Dominique Legendre ( Royal Opera House, Covent Garden).

Other past successes include the artist’s return to Opera Australia as Ramfis | Aida and Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago | Beethoven’s Mass in C.  He sang Jesus in fully staged performances of St. Matthew Passion (Brisbane), and Seneca in a new production of L’Incoronazione di Poppea (Lille and Dijon). Other notable appearances include Theseus | A Midsummer Night’s Dream (English National Opera), Collatinus | The Rape of Lucretia (Opera Norway) and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion | Leeds International Concert Season. Additionally, he appeared at Glyndebourne in two other roles: Claggart | Billy Budd, and Alidoro | La Cenerentola. He sang his first Wotan in Das Rheingold with the Auckland Philharmonic to critical acclaim.

Most recently, Paul performed the roles of Nettuno, Tempo and Antinoo | Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (The Grange Festival).  He added the role of Sarastro | Die Zauberflöte to his repertoire (Hawaii Opera Theatre), in Geneva he joined the Grand Theatre for their new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream | Quince, he appeared in the role of Claudio | Hamlet (Gothenburg Opera), Daland | Der fliegende Holländer  (Hawaii Opera Theatre and New Zealand Opera), Giorgio | I Puritani (Boston Lyric Opera and Victorian Opera), and debuted the role of Nick Shadow | The Rake’s Progress  (Opera New Zealand), Banco | Macbeth (Opera North) and Titurel |, Parsifal (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra).  

Last season, Paul made his house debut at Lyric Opera of Kansas City in the role of Gremin | Eugene Onegin winning outstanding reviews. In Norway he performed Haydn Creation | Norwegian Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra and  Hagen in selections from Götterdämmerung  (Jacksonville Symphony).

This year, Paul sings with the Opera New Orleans in the role of Timur | Turandot. He travels to Scottish opera for the world premiere of Stuart MacRae’s opera Anthropocene in the role of Captain Ross. At Garsington Opera he sings Commendatore | Don Giovanni. 

Concert appearances include Stanford’s Songs of the Fleet (Ulster Orchestra), Mountararat in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe (San Francisco Symphony), The Dream of Gerontius (Priest and Angel of Agony) ( Grant Park Music Festival -Chicago, Berlin, Salisbury and New Zealand), the bass soloist in Mozart’s Coronation Mass (Eugene Symphony Orchestra), St. Matthew’s Passion- London Bach Choir |  Festival Hall; the world premiere of Terra Incognita, a symphonic cantata for bass soloist and choir written for the artist by Gareth Farr ( New Zealand Symphony Orchestra).

Other orchestral engagements include St. Matthew Passion | (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and London Bach Choir), Judas | The Apostles (Leeds Festiva)l, Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death (Ulster Orchestra recorded for BBC Radio 3), Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast (Orquesta Sinfonica de Madrid - broadcast live), a series of concerts with Sir Charles Mackerras and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra; Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder (Bolshoi Theatre -Moscow), Delius’s Sea Drift (Osaka) and Valens | Handel’s Theodora (Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Winterthur, Switzerland).

Recordings include A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the London Symphony Orchestra under Sir Colin Davis (Philips), Kurt Weill’s Silber See under Markus Stenz (BMG); recordings with the BBC Philharmonic for Chandos and with the BBC Scottish Symphony for Hyperion.