One-time zoologist and National Otter Surveyor of England, Philip Smith hung up his waders to study singing, first at the Birmingham Conservatoire and then with Barbara Robotham at the Royal Northern College of Music, graduating with distinction in 2008. He is a Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme alumnus, Samling Artist and Crear Scholar. He continues to study with Robert Dean.
In the current season Philip performs Sharpless Madama Butterfly on tour for Diva Opera, Figaro The Barber of Seville for Opera Project at the Tobacco Factory Theatres; and appears in recital and oratorio.
Highlights in recent seasons include Sid Albert Herring for Maggio Musicale Fiorentino; Der Sprecher Die Zauberflöte for Opera di Firenze; Nottingham’s Confidant Roberto Devereux for Welsh National Opera; Giorgio Passion and Witness 6 Icarus at the Montepulciano Festival; Papageno in Die Zauberflöte at the Teatro Petruzzelli di Bari; Gratiano in The Merchant of Venice for the Polish National Opera; and Sharpless Madame Butterfly for Iford Arts.
Operatic roles includeEndymion/Charon Orpheus (The Royal Opera at The Globe); Junius The Rape of Lucretia (Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Reggio Emilia and Ravenna); Sid Albert Herring (Royal Danish Opera directed by Keith Warner) and Harlekin Ariadne auf Naxos (Montepulciano Festival). Other roles include Don Giovanni, Forester Cunning Little Vixen, Eugene Onegin, Leone Tamerlano, Figaro Le nozze di Figaro, Escamillo and Moralès Carmen, Ramiro L’heure espagnole and Macheath The Threepenny Opera. Roles understudied include Figaro Il barbiere di Siviglia (Scottish Opera); the title role in Don Giovanni and Valentin Faust (Opera North); and Arthur Jones Billy Budd, Herman Ortel Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Le Dancaïre Carmen (Glyndebourne).
In concert Philip has performed with orchestras including the Hallé, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s Ensemble 10/10, Manchester Camerata and the Northern Sinfonia with conductors including Sir Mark Elder, Clark Rundell, David Hill and Nicholas Kraemer. Recent performances include Rossini Petite messe solennelle, Haydn The Creation, Fauré Requiem, Bach B Minor Mass, Walton Belshazzar’s Feast, Vaughan Williams Five Mystical Songs and Tippett A Child of Our Time.
Philip appears regularly in recital with pianists including Roger Vignoles, Malcolm Martineau and Joseph Middleton. He has performed in Santiago de Compostela, Dubai and he is a regular guest at the Uzerche International Festival (France). He has appeared at a number of major UK festivals including the Aldeburgh Festival, Leeds Lieder, Oxford Lieder, the Cheltenham Festival and at Wigmore Hall.
Broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 include Aeneas Dido & Aeneas, a song recital from the Aldeburgh Festival with Malcolm Martineau and a live broadcast on In Tune. His recordings include Britten Songs Volume 1 (Onyx Classics) and Vaughan Williams Fair Child of Beauty (Albion Records).
Philip regularly takes part in education and community projects, he has worked with the education departments at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Opera North, Leeds Lieder + Festival, Wigmore Hall, La Folia and with Theatre Royal Norwich on their Norfolk school projects.
Figaro / The Barber of Seville / Opera Project / 2019
“Philip Smith as the scheming facilitator of romantic missives is sharper than his barber’s razor in the role, fleet-footed and expressive, full of sly, mischievous wit with a pleasing, rounded baritone.”
(British Theatre Guide)
“Smith is totally at home in his role as match-maker and conspirator, wittily drawing the audience in to his schemes, littering them with his business cards, sometimes entrusting them with his guitar, always with a winsome smile on his face. His mischievous deceptions and distractions easily win us over in his quest to see the young lovers united and gain him financial reward. Smith’s assured baritone warmed the night.”
Sharpless / Madame Butterfly / Diva Opera at the Festival de la Vèzère / 2019
“Among the cast Philip Smith receives the highest praise. The English baritone's Sharpless is firstly convincing in its interpretation, with a talent for portraying both his character's affliction and his anger. Vocally strong, he weaves a generous vocal line with an exquisite timbre, which draws out the depth and solemnity of the role.”
Sid / Albert Herring / Maggio Musicale Fiorentino / 2016
“Equally flawless was baritone Philip Smith as Sid, with clear diction, vocally astute and perfect interpretation of the bragging, likeable and good-natured butcher’s assistant.”