George von Bergen has established himself in Europe as an artist of formidable stage presence. It has been said of his recent Ford Falstaff that he owns a ‘complexity and dark richness to his tone [that] allows him to convey an extraordinary range of emotions’.
Recent highlights include acclaimed debuts as both Hamlet (Croatian National Opera) and Ned Keene Peter Grimes (La Scala), as well as ‘stand-out’ performances as Herald/Lord Hate-good The Pilgrim’s Progress (English National Opera), Belcore L’elisir d’amore and Ford (both Opera Holland Park). This season’s engagements include role debuts as Sharpless Madama Butterfly (English National Opera), Enrico Lucia di Lammermoor (Danish National Opera), and Zurga Les pêcheurs de perles (ENO).
Von Bergen studied at the University of Bristol, the Royal Academy of Music and the National Opera Studio in London, going on to win the Royal Overseas League singing competition. Whilst still at the National Opera Studio, he performed the role of Edward in the stage première of Elizabeth Maconchy’s The Sofa with Independent Opera (Chandos, February 2009). He also took the role of Marcello in the Deutsche Grammophon/MR Productions film of La bohème alongside Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon. In addition, he performed with Welsh National Opera, Opera North, Scottish Opera and Garsington Opera, and made his BBC Proms debut with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music with Sir Andrew Davis.
Highlights of recent seasons include the title role of Ambroise Thomas’ Hamlet (new production, Croatian National Theatre) conducted by Hervé Niquet; Ford Falstaff (new production, Opera Holland Park); and his debut at La Scala, Milan as Ned Keene in Richard Jones’ acclaimed new production of Peter Grimes, which was subsequently released commercially on DVD. Additional roles include Schaunard La bohème (ENO); Count Almaviva Le nozze di Figaro and Ostasio Francesca da Rimini (both Opera Holland Park); Demetrius A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Garsington Opera and Longborough); the title role of Don Giovanni; Marcello La bohème (Torre del Lago Puccini Festival production); and Beaumarchais Ghosts of Versaille, in the award-winning European première at Wexford Opera. George von Bergen is an ENO Harewood associate artist.
On the recital and concert platform, von Bergen has performed extensively in Britain and Europe. Oratorio performances also include Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem, Mendelssohn Elijah, Bach St John Passion, Puccini Messa di Gloria and Fauré Requiem.
George von Bergen is represented by Intermusica.
October 2013 / 387 words. Not to be altered without permission. Please destroy all previous biographical material.
Zurga The Pearl Fishers / English National Opera
Cond. Jean-Luc Tingaud / dir. Penny Woolcock
“As Zurga, George von Bergen had the necessary physical stature hooked up to vocal nimbleness and an impressive top range…to make his mark on this broadly drawn role. The central area of his baritone suavely anchored the famous Act 1 duet – directed with self-effacing stillness, which made it all the more telling – and he blended beautifully with John Tessier’s Nadir.”
Peter Reed, Opera, August 2014
“The opera’s most famous duet is ‘Au fond du temple saint’ (or ‘In the depths of the temple’ since it is sung here in English). This sees the two men recall the moment when they first laid eyes on Leïla, and is executed very well by George von Bergen (Zurga) and John Tessier (Nadir) as they vividly conjure up two people’s individual, yet highly similar, responses to the same woman.”
Sharpless Madam Butterfly / ENO
Sam Smith, Londonist, June 2014
Dir. Anthony Minghella
“George von Bergen's velvety bass…”
Julia Savage, One Stop Arts
, October 2013
“George von Bergen holds the stage and sings well as the decent but spineless US consul…”
Erica Jeal, Guardian, October 2013
Ned Keene / Britten's Peter Grimes / La Scala Milan (DVD)
Dir. Richard Jones / cond. Robin Ticciati
“George von Bergen, who invariably impresses, is a magnetic Ned Keene…"
Mark Valencia, Classical Source, October 2013
Belcore L’Elisir d’Amore / Opera Holland Park
Dir. Pia Furtado
“George von Bergen is amusing… as Nemorino’s baritone rival Belcore.”
Metro, July 2013
“More fun is had from the strutting Belcore, George von Bergen handsome in all respects, alternately seductive and forceful.”
Classical Source, July 2013
“George von Bergen is entertaining as the blustery sergeant Belcore”
The Stage, July 2013
“the goose-stepping, Gangsta-posing vanity of George von Bergen's Belcore”
“Dolton's energy, von Bergen's machismo, Di Toro's warmth, the mellow playing of the City of London Sinfonia under Stephen Higgins, and… Tynan's exquisitely idiomatic performance of "Prendi, per me sei libero" combine to touching effect.”
The Independent, July 2013
“George von Bergen was suitably virile as Belcore, his characterisation as blunt and conceited as required. He produced some fine singing, too.”
Opera Britannia, July 2013
Obstinate/Herald/Lord Hate-Good in Vaughan Williams The Pilgrim’s Progress / London Coliseum
English National Opera / cond. Martyn Brabbins / dir. Yoshi Oida
“ENO used a large cast as an opportunity to showcase some excellent young talent; Kitty Whately, Alexander Sprague, Aoife O’Sullivan, and George von Bergen were particularly notable in the plethora of solo roles for a generation of operatic debutants”.
Ashutosh Khandekar, Opera Now, February 2013
“[T]here was fine singing from the company's younger singers: Benedict Nelson brought both warmth and strength to Evangelist, George von Bergen was a ringing Herald, while Kitty Whately's Woodcutter's Boy (here metamorphosed into a tea-lady) [...] provided some sweetly celestial sounds at key moments”.
David Sutton, MusicalCriticism.com, November 2012
“George von Bergen's Lord Hate-Good [and] Kitty Whately's merry Woodcutter's Boy ... stand out”.
Anna Picard, The Independent, November 2012
“It’s been a long wait for a fully-staged professional revival of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s ‘morality’ but here, finally, is a production worth its salt. [...]
The strength in depth of the supporting cast took the breath away. There was an especially powerful intervention from George von Bergen as the Herald at the start of Act Two”.
Mark Valencia, ClassicalSource.com, November 2012
“George von Bergen, excelled in particular as the Herald, leading the ritual arming of Pilgrim with sword and shield.
ENO has produced some fine Vaughan Williams for the stage before [...] Often regarded as London’s optimum ‘Britten house’, I think Vaughan Williams can regard the Coli as a place of safe refuge too”.
Mark Pullinger, Opera Britannia, November 2012
Ford in Verdi Falstaff
Opera Holland Park / cond. Peter Robinson / dir. Annilese Miskimmon
“There was a fine Ford from George von Bergen, who, as Brooke, gets in touch with his darker side...”
Peter Reed, Telegraph, August 2012
“The always-impressive von Bergen raged with befuddled passion during Ford’s second-act soliloquy, “È sogno?”.”
Mark Valencia, Classicalsource.com, July 2012
“A compelling Ford...”
David Gutman, The Stage, July 2012
“There is strong support from George von Bergen, as Ford.”
Ned Keene in Britten Peter Grimes
Christopher Gray, Oxford Times, July 2012
Teatro alla Scala / cond. Robin Ticciati / dir. Richard Jones
“...Von Bergen’s magnificent voice in the most authentic and credible version of Keene I have seen...”
Jorge Binaghi, Mundoclasico.com
, June 2012
Nick Shadow in Stravinsky The Rake’s Progress
“The empty cynicism of the Rake seemed at odds with the optimism of the evening, but von Bergen made a compelling case for sin – this baritone has all-round charisma.”
Yehuda Shapiro, Opera Now, September/October 2008
Don Giovanni in Mozart Don Giovanni
“The exciting George von Bergen (Germont pere in Clonter’s recent La traviata; he also impressed as the Academy’s Tarquinius and Gianni Schicchi) delivered the Don with not just gusto but a rich bass range too. Bergen’s utterly secure voice production worked wonders, mellifluously wooing Zerlina after dispatching the Commendatore.”
Roderic Dunnett, Opera Now, March/April 2008
Gianni Schicchi in Puccini Gianni Schicchi
“Who’s Hot – Baritone George von Bergen in the title role of Gianni Schicchi. Now at the NOS, von Bergen posses a firm powerful voice and considerable stage presence.”
Opera Now, November/December 2007
Don Giovanni in Mozart Don Giovanni
“The British baritone George von Bergen was an exceptionally impressive Don Giovanni, brutal, dangerous but always attractive and with a voice ideally suited to the role.”
Michael Kennedy, Opera, October 2007
“…and has given excellent training to singers who will in several cases be making big careers in future, I think. George von Bergen (Giovanni) and George Matheakakis (Leporello) are not only individually highly gifted but spark brilliantly against each other too. I could see either taking their portrayal into opera houses anywhere with success.”
Robert Beale, Manchester Evening News, July 2007
“Dashing George von Bergen was in great voice as the charismatic Don Giovanni, commanding the stage and making it understandable why the ladies were so easily duped by him.”
Natalie Anglesey, The Stage, July 2007
Elijah in Mendelssohn Elijah
“The big part of Elijah was splendidly taken by George von Bergen with his rich baritone. The famous aria ‘Lord God of Abraham’ rang out in the church, and Elijah’s pleading with God to let him die – ‘It is enough’ was most moving.”
Michael Crombie, Ilford Recorder, June 2007
Teucer in Rameau Dardanus
“Among the leads, Julia Sporsen's grave, supple Iphise and George von Bergen's polished Teucer were outstanding in their stylistic fluency.”
Anna Picard, Independent on Sunday, November 2006
Eugene Onegin in Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin
“George von Bergen’s Onegin was much more straight down the line – a Wildean, bored young-old man, with a good sneer on him, von Bergen sang with great authority and imagination. I always look forward to seeing how Onegins will crack, and this one did it to the manner born, shaping up nicely to lose his rag with Lensky and going on to convincingly breakdown in the final scene.”
Peter Reed, Opera, November 2006
“Here Onegin, George von Bergen, was as strongly cast. Tall, handsome, you see why Tatyana’s head was turned. By turns prig, lecher and wilting violet, his singing was full and mature.”
Christopher Monk, Musical Opinion, November 2006
“She was well matched by von Bergen’s resonant baritone, and the scene where he rejects her letter; tearing it to pieces in front of her; was powerful stuff.”
Clare Colvin, Sunday Express, September 2006
“And both Onegin himself and Tatyana are exceptionally strongly cast. Kerley produces her and the equally extraordinary Onegin of George von Bergen with enormous care and sensitivity.”
Hilary Finch, The Times, September 2006