Keel Watson

Keel Watson studied singing with Elizabeth Hawes and trombone with Roger Brenner at Trinity College of Music.

In the current season Keel performs Mars in a new production of Orpheus in the Underworld, Zuniga Carmen and The Bonze Madam Butterfly for English National Opera and returns to Opera Holland Park as Monterone in Rigoletto.

Highlights in recent seasons include Doctor Bartolo The Marriage of Figaro and Aye Akhnaten for English National Opera; Usher Trial by Jury at the BBC Proms; Zuniga Carmen at the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos; King Sharyaati Sukanya for The Royal Opera and London Philharmonic Orchestra; Man 2 Icarus at the Montepulciano Festival; and Hans Sachs Meistersinger and Holländer Der fliegende Holländer for Fulham Opera.

Operatic roles include Fasolt Das Rheingold and Creon Oedipus Rex (Teatro Nacional de São Carlos); The King Aida (Bregenz Festival); Reinmar Tannhäuser (Greek National Opera); Frazier Porgy and Bess (Opéra de Lyon); Fasolt Der Ring des Nibelungen (Teatro Massimo di Palermo); The Doctor Punch and Judy (Casa da Música, Porto); Elder Ott Susannah (Angers Nantes Opéra); Porgy Porgy and Bess (TCC Productions, Lisbon); Méphistophélès Faust (Anna Livia International Opera Festival); Baldassare L’arlesiana, Tonio Pagliacci, Jorg Stiffelio and Bertrand Iolanta, Oroveso Norma, Nourabad Les pêcheurs de perles, and Il Re Aida (Opera Holland Park); Commendatore Don Giovanni (Mid Wales Opera); Bosun Billy Budd (The Royal Opera);Dosifey Khovanschina, Iago Otello, Don Pizarro Fidelio, First Apprentice Wozzeck, Abbot Curlew River, Pluto Il ballo delle ingrate, Neptune The Return of Ulysses, Commendatore Don Giovanni, and Voice of Neptune Idomeneo (Birmingham Opera Company); Don Pasquale, Fiesco Simon Boccanegra, Doctor Bartolo The Marriage of Figaro and Colline La bohème (English Touring Opera); and Zuniga Carmen, Mandryka Arabella,and Speaker, Second Armed Man/Second Priest The Magic Flute (Opera North).

In contemporary opera he has performed The Caterpillar Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Opera Holland Park); King in Luke Bedford’s Seven Angels (The Opera Group); Asantehene/Second Messenger in Jonathan Dove’s The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi (Opera OT); The Elder The Country of the Blind by Mark-Anthony Turnage (Aldebugh Festival/ENO Contemporary Opera Studio); and Parlaine Palace in the Sky (ENO Baylis).

He made his debut at the BBC Proms as the Abbot Curlew River (Birmingham Opera Company). Other major concert engagements include the concert version of Gershwin Porgy and Bess (Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal Scottish National Orchestra); Carmina Burana (Royal Festival Hall); A Child of Our Time (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra); and Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin in Durham Cathedral.His concert repertoire also includes Pater Profundus in Mahler Symphony No. 8, Walton Belshazzar’s Feast, Rossini Stabat Mater, and Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony.

Recording and film credits include Second Armed Man in Kenneth Brannagh’s film of The Magic Flute; Harašta in Geoff Dunbar’s animated version of The Cunning Little Vixen; and Bernstein White House Cantata with the London Symphony Orchestra under Kent Nagano (Deutsche Grammophon).


The Bonze / Madam Butterfly / English National Opera / 2020
“Keel Watson was a thunderous Bonze…”
(Opera Today)

“Keel Watson makes for a commanding Bonze…”
(Wales Arts Review)

Baldassare / L'arlesiana / Opera Holland Park / 2019
“Keel Watson, with his tremendous bass-baritone, proves a particularly sensitive Baldassare..."

“Keel Watson sounds luminous as the wise old sage Baldassare.”

Aye / Akhnaten / English National Opera / 2019
“Keel Watson stands out vocally as an earthy and human Aye, who seems to have strayed into upper Egypt from a New Orleans mardi gras.”
(The Guardian) 

“Keel Watson adds craggy warmth to the bottom of the ensemble as Aye, a foil to Colin Judson’s ringing High Priest.
(The Arts Desk)