Matthew Best’s career combines an internationally established reputation as an exponent of the great Wagner and Strauss roles with a distinctive conducting career featuring a distinguished contribution to the recorded repertory.
Highlights of the 2016/17 season include Swallow in Britten Peter Grimes for Bergen National Opera under Edward Gardner, St Matthew Passion with the Bach Choir. In future seasons Best will return to the English National Opera. Last season’s highlights included Old Convict in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Marquis of Calatrava in The Force of Destiny, both for English National Opera, as well as conducting a performance of Messiah with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.
Other recent highlights include Swallow Peter Grimes with Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia under Sir Antonio Pappano, at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and in the revival of David Alden’s acclaimed production at English National Opera, as well as Commendatore Don Giovanni and the world premiere of Julian Anderson’s Thebans, both also for ENO. Concert highlights include Berlioz Roméo et Juliette with the Warsaw Philharmonic under John Nelson, L’enfance du Christ with the Bergen Philharmonic, Tiresias Oedipus Rex with the BBC Philharmonic, King Heinrich Lohengrin for Welsh National Opera and Royal Swedish Opera, King Marke Tristan und Isolde with the Philharmonia Orchestra under Esa-Pekka Salonen, Bilbao Opera, WNO and with Oper Leipzig for the Hong Kong Arts Festival; Peneois Daphne for Oper Frankfurt and Santa Fe Opera, Sprecher Die Zauberflöte for ROH, Don Pizarro Fidelio with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and Valery Gergiev, and Verdi Requiem with the BBC Philharmonic.
Best studied at Kings College, Cambridge, and at the National Opera Studio, and in 1982 won the Decca-Kathleen Ferrier Prize. At the outset of his career, he sang as a principal bass with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and as a guest with many other companies. His career reached a significant landmark when he sang the role of Wotan/The Wanderer in Scottish Opera’s new production of Der Ring des Nibelungen, first seen at the Edinburgh International Festival.
Other operatic appearances include Jochanaan Salome at WNO, La Roche Capriccio for Grange Park Opera, Tsargo Adriana Mater for Santa Fe Opera and Wotan Siegfried for Opéra de Lyon. He has also sung Kurwenal Tristan und Isolde for La Monnaie, Wotan and Orest Elektra in Stuttgart, title role of Der fliegende Holländer for Opera de Rouen, Vairochana in the world premiere production of Jonathan Harvey’s Wagner Dream in Luxembourg, Amsterdam and Paris, Scarpia Tosca, Amfortas Parsifal, Kurwenal, Don Pizarro for Scottish Opera, Count Walter Luisa Miller and Scarpia for Opera North, Wotan, Ramfis Aida, Swallow, King Marke, Commendatore Don Giovanni and Jochanaan for ENO, Cadmus The Bassarids at the Châtelet, Paris and in Cologne, Mr Flint Billy Budd with the London Symphony Orchestra, the CBSO and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, and Don Pizarro Leonore (early version of Fidelio) under Gardiner at the Proms, Salzburg Festival, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam and the Lincoln Center Festival, New York.
Best’s extensive recorded repertoire includes Leonore, L’enfance du Christ, Billy Budd, Peter Grimes, The Dream of Gerontius, Falla El Retablo di Maese Pedro, Menotti Martin’s Lie and Rossini Il barbiere di Siviglia.
Don Fernando Fidelio
Dansker Billy Budd
Quince A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Theseus A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Arkel Pelleas et Melisande
Seneca L’incoronazione di Poppea
Sarastro Die Zauberflöte
Sprecher Die Zauberflöte
Ancient Hebrew Samson et Dalila
Old Convict Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
First Soldier Salome
Trulove The Rake’s Progress
Gremin Eugene Onegin
Fafner Das Rheingold
Hunding Die Walküre
King Marke Tristan und Isolde
Pogner Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Hermit Der Freischütz
St. Matthew Passion
St. John Passion
Mass in C
L’Enfance du Christ
La Damnation de Faust
Romeo et Juliette
The Dream of Gerontius
Die Erste Walpurgisnacht
Mass in C Minor
Mass of the Sea
Messa di Gloria
Petite Messe Solennelle
A Child of our Time
Matthew Best’s excellent Swallow… leave[s] an indelible impression
Matthew Best succeeded in bringing an outstanding presence both vocally and dramatically to his Commendatore: every word was sung with a deeply chilling color and expert inflection, which arguably makes Best unrivalled in London for the excellence of his performance.
Matthew Best’s exemplary King Marke … a figure of nobly dignified bearing, focused sound and elegant phrasing.