Early life and education
Keenlyside was born in London, the son of Raymond and Ann Keenlyside. Raymond played second violin in the Aeolian Quartet, and Ann's father was the violinist Leonard Hirsch. When he was eight, he was enrolled in St John's College School, a boarding school for the child choristers of the Choir of St John's College, Cambridge and spent much of his childhood touring and recording with the choir under the direction of choirmaster George Guest. He later attended Reed's School in Cobham, before moving on to university at Cambridge.
Keenlyside read zoology at Cambridge University, returning to St John's as a choral scholar, before studying singing at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. After graduation, he won a Peter Moores Foundation scholarship (1985) and chose to join the Royal Northern College of Music to study voice with the baritone John Cameron under whom he developed a love for lieder and German poetry. Keenlyside later said of him:
Everyone has to trust a teacher and I trusted John. It is possible to make the Faustian pact of beefing up your voice young. You might survive, but many talented young voices have been ruined. John always said "don't push it, sing your age". That can be very frustrating. You just have to trust that nature will eventually grant you heft.
Keenlyside made his first appearance in a major operatic role in 1987 as Lescaut in Manon Lescaut at the Royal Northern College of Music. Opera magazine remarked on it being an "astonishingly mature" performance, and that he "used his warm and clear baritone with notable musicianship". The Richard Tauber prize, which he won in 1986, allowed him to go to Salzburg for further study. His money ran out before he could finish his four-month term there, but Rudolf Knoll, a teacher at the Salzburg Mozarteum, gave him private lessons for free. Knoll encouraged him to work on the Italian repertoire while he was still young, and introduced him to the Hilbert agency which got him singing jobs in Germany. His professional debut as a baritone came in 1988, at the Hamburg State Opera as Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro.
In 1989, Keenlyside joined the roster of Scottish Opera, where he stayed until 1994, performing as, among other roles, Marcello (La bohème), Danilo (The Merry Widow), Harlequin (Ariadne auf Naxos), Guglielmo (Così fan tutte), Figaro (Barber of Seville), Billy Budd (Billy Budd), Papageno (Zauberflöte) and Belcore (L'elisir d'amore).
During this period, he made debut performances at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, (1989 singing Silvio), English National Opera (Guglielmo), Welsh National Opera, San Francisco Opera, Geneva, Paris, and Sydney. He sang for Glyndebourne for the first time in 1993 and made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1996. Keenlyside has performed at virtually all the major opera houses in the world, including the Paris Opera and the Metropolitan Opera.
His recordings include several issues for Hyperion Records, including music of Benjamin Britten, Emmanuel Chabrier, Maurice Duruflé and Henry Purcell. He is also a featured singer on five volumes of the Hyperion Franz Schubert Edition and on the second volume of the Hyperion Robert Schumann Edition. He participated in the EMI Classics world premiere recording of The Tempest. In 2007 Sony Music released a recital disc of arias entitled Tales of Opera.
- Winston Smith in 1984 
- Harlequin in Ariadne auf Naxos 
- Ubalde in Armide 
- Figaro and Fiorello in The Barber of Seville 
- Billy Budd and Donald in Billy Budd 
- Marcello and Schaunard in La bohème 
- Catechiste in Briséïs 
- Mercurio in La Calisto 
- Olivier in Capriccio 
- Morales in Carmen 
- Dandini in La Cenerentola 
- Guglielmo in Così fan tutte 
- Abayaldos in Dom Sébastien 
- Posa and Flemish Deputy in Don Carlos 
- Don Giovanni in Don Giovanni 
- Belcore in L'elisir d'amore 
- Onegin in Eugene Onegin 
- Ford in Falstaff 
- Valentin and Wagner in Faust 
- Prisoner in Fidelio 
- Falke in Die Fledermaus 
- Hamlet in Ambroise Thomas' Hamlet 
- Oreste in Iphigénie en Tauride 
- Macbeth in Macbeth 
- Gendarme/Le directeur in Les Mamelles de Tirésias 
- Lescaut in Manon Lescaut 
- Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro 
- Nightwatchman in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg 
- Danilo in The Merry Widow 
- Orfeo in Monteverdi's L'Orfeo, favola in musica 
- Montano in Verdi's Otello 
- Silvio in Pagliacci 
- Pelléas in Pelléas et Mélisande 
- Ned Keene in Peter Grimes 
- Prince Yeletski in The Queen of Spades 
- Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucretia 
- Rigoletto in Rigoletto 
- Arthus in Le Roi Arthus 
- Wolfram in Tannhäuser 
- Prospero in The Tempest 
- Giorgio Germont in Traviata 
- Steersman in Tristan und Isolde 
- Ping in Turandot 
- Andrei in Prokofiev's War and Peace 
- Wozzeck in Wozzeck 
- Papageno in Die Zauberflöte 
Honours and awards
- 1986: Richard Tauber Prize
- 1987: Winner of the Walther Gruner International Lieder competition
- 1990: First Prize, Elly Ameling competition
- 1994: Singer of the Year Award from the Royal Philharmonic Society
- 2003: CBE in the Queen's Birthday honours list "for services to Music"
- 2004: Opera Award for the category Best Baritone (Don Giovanni, Théâtre de la Monnaie) from the Italian magazine L'Opera.
- 2004: XII Premios de la Crítica award to Simon Keenlyside and Natalie Dessay in Hamlet) for the best male and female singers in a staged opera.
- 2005: Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording Marriage of Figaro
- 2006: Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera, for his work in the ROH production of 1984 and ENO's Billy Budd in 2005. He was a nominee for this award in 2004 for The Royal Opera's Hamlet and Die Zauberflote.
- 2007: ECHO Klassik Award, Singer of the Year (male)
- 2007: XV Premios de la Crítica award for Best Recital Artist
- 2007: Gramophone Award, Best of Category (Recital) for his debut recital album Tales of Opera
- 2010: Gramophone Award, Best of Category (Contemporary) for the CD The Tempest, singing Prospero
- 2011: Musical America's Vocalist of the Year award
- Kellow, Brian (December 2002)."The Poetry of Risk". Opera News, Vol. 67, No. 6
- Wroe, Nicholas (8 September 2007). "The call of the wild". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 September 2007.
- Allison, John (2002). Baritones in Opera: Profiles of Fifteen Great Baritones, p. 81. Opera Magazine Ltd.
- Duchen, Jessica (12 March 2007)."Simon Keenlyside: The sound and the fury". The Independent
- James Inverne, "EMI to release Adés’s The Tempest". Gramophone, 20 March 2007.
- Gramophone (2007).Awards Special Issue, p. 61.
- For a complete list of Keenlyside's roles see also List of roles at www.simonkeenlyside.info
- Kesting, Jürgen (2008). Die grossen Sänger, Vol. 4, p. 2065. Hoffmann und Campe (German)
- La Scala. Archives: Keenlyside (subscription required)
- White, Michael (14 May 2003). "Sweet prince of song". Daily Telegraph
- Royal Opera House. Archives: Keenlyside
- Luten, C. J., (January 1996). Recording Review: Chabrier's Briseis by Rodgers, Harries, Padmore, Keenlyside, George and the BBC Scottish Orchestra and Chamber Chorus under Jean Yves Ossonce. Opera News (subscription required)
- Gramophone (September 1995). Review: Harmonia Mundi CD HMC90 1515/7 (1996 live recording from Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie), p. 103
- Metropolitan Opera. Archives: Keenlyside, Simon (Baritone)
- Milnes, Rodney (November 1997) "Simon Keenlyside". Opera, Vol. 53, Issue 1, pp. 80-87
- Listed in the cast for the performances at the Opéra Garnier in September 1998. See L'Événement du jeudi, Issues 718-725, p. 82 (French)
- Glyndebourne Festival Opera. Archives: Keenlyside
- Jahn, George (7 March 2009). "Splendid music, but the staging – brrr!". Associated Press
- Listed in projected cast for the performances at the Royal Opera House in November–December 1990. See Opera, Vol. 41, Issues 7-12, p. 1201
- Loveland, Kenneth (December 1991). Review: Die Fledermaus, Welsh National Opera, New Theatre, Cardiff, Opera, Volume 42, p. 1479
- Listed in the cast for the concert performances at Birmingham Symphony Hall and the Queen Elisabeth Hall (March 1995). See Opera, Vol. 45, Issues 7-12, p. 1299
- Smith, Mike (25 April 2008). "From Turandot to tree-planting with opera singer Simon Keenlyside". Western Mail
- One of his earliest roles. According to simonkeenlyside.info, he sang this at the Hamburg State Opera in June 1988.
- Tumelty, Michael (20 September 1989). "Review: Theatre Royal, Glasgow, The Merry Widow", p. 14. Glasgow Herald
- Sulcas, Roslyn (28 June 1998). "Master of Movement Decides to Tell a Story With an Opera". New York Times
- Jampol, Joshua (2010). Living Opera. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-538138-6
- Blyth, Alan (June 1996). "Taking off". Gramophone, p. 23
- Radio Canada. Opéra du samedi, Calendrier de diffusion, Saison 1998-1999 (French)
- Monelle, Raymond (23 August 1999). "Edinburgh: This tragic no man's land". The Independent
- Evans, Eian (27 June 2010). "Review: Rigoletto, Millennium Centre, Cardiff". The Guardian
- Tanner, Michael (9 September 2000). "Brighter shades of pale". The Spectator
- Western European stages, Volume 15 (2003), p. 42. Center for Advanced Study in Theatre Arts
- Bayerische Staatsoper (2009) Cast list: La Traviata, 12 June 2009 (German)
- Christiansen, Rupert (1 November 2001). Review: "War and Peace ENO, Coliseum – All-conquering confidence". Daily Telegraph
- Kennedy, Michael (1994). Music Enriches All: The Royal Northern College of Music : The First Twenty-one Years, p. 77. Carcanet. ISBN 1-85754-085-9
- Royal Philharmonic Society. Past RPS Music Awards Winners: Singers
- BBC News (29 October 2003). "TV chef collects MBE"
- L'Opera (December 2004)
- Avui (20 October 2004) "Siegfried, millor òpera de la temporada anterior", p. 46 (Catalan)
- Associated Press (13 February 2005). "Pre-telecast Grammy Award winners". USA Today
- Laurence Olivier Awards (26 February 2006). "Keenlyside wins opera prize", www.olivierawards.com
- Associated Press (15 January 2004)"Complete list of nominees for the 2004 Laurence Olivier Awards" (subscription required)
- merkur-online.de (22 October 2007). "Echo Klassik für Elina Garanca, Keenlyside und Jansons" (German)
- ABC (11 October 2007). "«Boulevard Solitude», de Henze, se impone en los premios de la crítica" (Spanish)
- Gramophone (30 September 2010). "Gramophone Awards 2010 unveiled"
- Waleson, Heidi (2011). "The 2011 Honorees: Simon Keenlyside, Vocalist of the Year". Musical America
- simonkeenlyside.info – Biography, schedule, discography, media database
- Television interview with Simon Keenlyside on C Music TV
- Simon Keenlyside on Askonas Holt Artists' Management