The Scottish bass, Brian Bannatyne-Scott, was born and educated in Edinburgh. He studied French and Mediaeval History at St Andrews University before attending the Guildhall School of Music in London. In 1981, he won the Decca Kathleen Ferrier Prize. Since then he has enjoyed an international career in opera and concerts. He has studied with Laura Sarti, Sir Peter Pears, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Galina Vishnevskaya, Hans Hotter and Norman Bailey, and now he works with Anthony Roden.
Brian Bannatyne-Scott’s concert career has taken him throughout Europe, and to Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Israel, Singapore, the Philippines and Japan. He has performed regularly with Trevor Pinnock and The English Concert including his debut at the Salzburg Festival as Polyphemus Acis and Galatea, Aeolus and Cold Genius King Arthur in Berlin, Halle, Opera Garnier Paris, the Teatro Colón Buenos Aires and in the London Proms, Bach’s B Minor Mass in Turin and Cremona and the St Matthew Passion at the National Arts Center, Ottawa. With Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre, he has performed Messiah in Grenoble and Paris, and with The King’s Consort and the Salzburger Bachchor, he has sung Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.
Brian Bannatyne-Scott has sung the role of Christus in Arvo Pärt’s Passio throughout Europe and in Japan with the Hilliard Ensemble, most recently in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge. He has also sung Stravinsky’s Les Noces with the London Sinfonietta and Sir Simon Rattle at the Festival Hall, London. Also with Sir Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, he has sung Schönberg’s Gurrelieder in Birmingham.
With Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra, he has sung in Berlioz’s The Trojans and in Benjamin Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Barbican Hall, where he has also appeared with the London Symphony Orchestra and Mikhail Pletnev in Mozart’s C Minor Mass. With the Philharmonia Orchestra, he has sung Leonard Bernstein’s Songfest conducted by Leonard Slatkin in the Festival Hall.
He has sung in most of the British Cathedrals in a repertoire ranging from J.S. Bach and Georg Frideric Handel through Verdi and Elgar to Benjamin Britten and Maxwell Davies and has appeared in major festivals throughout Britain and Europe including Edinburgh, Salzburg, Holland, Bath, Flanders, Beaune and Aix-en-Provence, and has sung frequently at the BBC Proms.
Since making his débuts at Teatro la Fenice, Venice and the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma in 1981 in Castiglioni’s Oberon, Brian Bannatyne-Scott has appeared at many of the major Opera Houses of the world.
He has sung at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, under the baton of Sir Colin Davis, at both the Opéras de Paris, at the Grand Théâtre de Genève, at the Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels, the Nederlandse Opera, Amsterdam, the Teatro Colón Buenos Aires, with Trevor Pinnock, the Bunkamura Theatre, Tokyo, with Marc Minkowski, the Opéra de Lyon, with René Jacobs, the opera of Sao Paolo, Brazil, and numerous other theatres around Europe.
In Britain, he has worked with Scottish Opera Colline La Bohème, Theaterdirektor Capriccio, Don Fernando Fidelio, Sprecher Die Zauberflöte, Opera North Snug Midsummer Night’s Dream, Varlaam Boris Godunov, English National Opera Monterone Rigoletto, Commendatore Don Giovanni, Banquo Macbeth, Pogner Die Meistersinger von Nurenberg, Grand Inquisitor Don Carlos, and made his debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 2004 in Les Contes d’Hoffmann.
Roles include Wotan (Longborough Festival Opera) Pogner (English National Opera), Arkel (Opéra National du Rhin, Strasbourg), Banquo ( English National Opera), Geronte di Ravoir (Grand Théâtre de Genève and Opéra de Nancy), Le Spectre d’Hector in Les Troyens (Teatro alla Scala, Milan and Barbican Hall, London), Fafner (CBTO and The Limerick Ring), Sarastro (Opéra de Nantes), Swallow (Opéra de Nantes), Parson in The Cunning Little Vixen (Bregenz Festival), Priam in Les Troyens (Nederlandse Opera, Amsterdam), Peachum (Opéras de Caen and Rouen), Silvano in La Calisto (Opéras de Lyon and Montpellier), Araspe in G.F. Handel’s Tolomeo (Opernhaus Halle and Opernhaus Dessau), Pistola (Opéras de Nancy, Caen and Lausanne), Der Tod in Der Kaiser von Atlantis (Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels, theatres in Liege, Antwerp, Sarajevo and Lisbon, and Mecklenburg Opera), Die Mutter in Die Sieben Todsünden (Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels, Oslo and the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam), El Tio Salvaor in La Vida Breve (Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels) and Mozart’s Bartolo (Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Bermuda Festival and Tokyo).
His recent engagements include Baron Ochs in Rosenkavalier in Bielefeld, Swallow in Opera North’s award-winning Peter Grimes, Hobson in Peter Grimes in Brussels, Valencia and Bilbao, Geronte in Manon Lescaut at Opera North and Poet in Philip Glass’s Orphee at the Royal Opera House, multiple roles in Shostakovich’s The Nose at Opera de Nantes/Angers), Trulove in A Rake’s Progress at Nantes, Angers and Rennes, Il Talpa in Il Tabarro at the Opera de Lyon, and Theaterdirektor in Capriccio at the Theater Bielefeld. In 2009, Brian had a huge success with further performances of "Capriccio" in Bielefeld, and spent the summer working on the role of Hagen in "Götterdämmerung" with Seattle Opera. He opened the 2009/2010 Season at Theater Bielefeld, singing the title role in Verdi’s "Falstaff" to great critical and public acclaim and returned for the first time in many years to Glasgow to sing the title role in Handel’s "Saul" with the Dunedin Consort and the University of Glasgow. Brian had a huge success in Victoria, British Columbia with the role of La Roche (“A consummate and witty portrayal” Opera Magazine) in 2010, followed up with a notable appearance at Opera Holland Park as Arkel in a new production of Pelléas et Mélisande .
Brian Bannatyne-Scott’s extensive discography includes Purcell’s King Arthur and Handel’s Messiah on DG Archiv, Benjamin Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream on Philips, G.F. Handel’s Tolomeo on Mondo Musica and L’Incoronazione di Poppea on EMI. Recently he took part in the recording of St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) with the Dunedin Consort directed by John Butt on Linn Records.
Brian took part in a very exciting World Premiere in July 2011 at the prestigious Festivale d’ Aix-en-Provence. He sang the role of the Father in Oscar Bianchi’s Thanks to my Eyes, conducted by Franck Ollu, and directed by Joel Pommerat. This premiere was followed by an extensive tour throughout Europe in 2012 to Paris, Brussels, Lisbon and Mulhouse, playing to packed houses. In November 2012, he sang the role of the Old Hebrew in a stunning production of Saint-Saens’ Samson et Dalila at the Grand Theatre de Genève in Switzerland partnering the wonderful young tenor Alexanders Antonenko and the sensual Malgorzata Walewska in a fabulous trio.
2013 saw Brian’s return to Pacific Opera Victoria in October for the title role in Verdi’s Falstaff.
Falstaff was a great personal success with splendid reviews and great audience reaction. After this, Brian was invited back to the Metropolitan Opera in New York to understudy the huge role of Baron Ochs in Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier. In 2014, he sang the role of Hubbard in the French premiere of John Adams’ Dr Atomic at L’Opera National du Rhin in Strasbourg,and also in Mulhouse, followed by Britten’s War Requiem in Chester Cathedral, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in St David’s Hall, Cardiff and a World War One recital at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. He appeared as Tio Sarvaor in Falla’s Vida Breve and as Simone in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi with Opera North in Leeds, Newcastle, Salford and Nottingham, sang Mozart’s Requiem in Hereford Cathedral and St John’s, Smith Square, London with the ESO and sang the role of Snug in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the 2015 Aix-en-Provence Festival.
In 2016, Brian sang the role of Simone in Gianni Schicchi at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and then made his role debut as Bottom in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Pacific Opera Victoria in Victoria, BC,Canada. Later in 2016, he reprised the role of Snug in MND with the Aix-en-Provence Festival on tour to Beijing, the opera’s premiere in China.
In 2017, Brian sang Foltz in Casper Holten’s new production for ROH Covent Garden of Wagner’s "Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg", starring Sir Bryn Terfel and conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano. In the summer, he appeared as Arkel in Sir Michael Boyd’s production of "Pelléas et Mélisande" at Garsington. This great personal success was followed by his assumption of 3 roles in the new opera "Hamlet" by Brett Dean on the Glyndebourne Tour. This opera had its world premiere earlier in the year at the Glyndebourne Festival, with the three roles (Ghost of Hamlet’s Father, Player King and Gravedigger), sung by Sir John Tomlinson. The Tour cast was judged by many commentators to be even better than the Festival cast!
Early in 2018, Brian sang the role of Swallow in Benjamin Britten’s "Peter Grimes" at the Monte Carlo Opera in a new production by Jose Cura and starring the great Argentinian tenor as Peter Grimes. Later in April, Brian jumped in at very short notice to sing the Doctor in "The Exterminating Angel" by Thomas Ades at the Danish Royal Opera in Copenhagen.
Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, all concerts planned for 2020 were cancelled. Brian’s last public performance was in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in November 2019 when he and Jan Waterfield (piano) gave a recital in honour of the anniversary of the birth of Robert Louis Stevenson. The programme included two song cycles by Ronald Stevenson, with words by RLS and Hugh MacDiarmid, and the Songs of Travel, a song cycle by Ralph Vaughan Williams to words by RLS. The success of this recital led to the recording and release of Brian’s first solo recital CD “Songs of Stevenson” on BBS Records and released by Birnam CD. This disc contained the three song cycles performed in the SNPG concert, and some songs by the excellent Scottish composer Francis George Scott. All the Scott and Stevenson songs were recorded by Brian and Jan in St Michael’s Church, Edinburgh in February 2020, and the Songs of Travel, which were recorded by Brian and the pianist Alan Jacques in the Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh in the 2003 Edinburgh Festival, combined to create a critically well-received album. It is available on Amazon and from the Birnam CD Online Shop, and would make a perfect present for Christmas or a birthday.
During the 2020 pandemic, Brian has been writing a weekly Blog on the Edinburgh Music Review, an online site for promoting Scottish music. This Blog, running to 36 parts, was, in essence, Brian’s Memoirs, featuring places he has sung, people he has worked with, and music he has sung over the last 40 years. It’s available to read on www.edinburghmusicreview.com and Brian plans to organise it into a book which will be published in the not too distant future.