Barry Banks

Barry Banks

English lyric tenor.
Country: Great Britain

  1. Barry Banks: Biography of an English Lyrical Tenor
  2. Breakthrough and European Success
  3. Success in the United States
  4. A Diverse Repertoire
  5. Discography and Legacy

Barry Banks: Biography of an English Lyrical Tenor

Barry Banks is an English lyrical tenor whose name is closely associated with the Metropolitan Opera and the English National Opera. Born in Stoke-on-Trent, Banks began his musical journey as a soprano soloist in his family's local church. While attending middle school, he learned to play the trumpet and became a chorister at the Staffordshire County Music School. He joined several brass ensembles, including the Northern Brass Ensemble and the Greenway Moor Brass Band, gaining exposure to his voice and honing his musical talent. In 1979, Barry began vocal lessons at the Royal Northern College of Music, followed by the National Opera Studio in London in 1985. During his time in Manchester, he regularly sang with the professional choir 'BBC Northern Singers.' At the beginning of his career, Banks performed in numerous oratorios across the UK and Europe, collaborating with prominent opera companies such as the English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Opera North, and Glyndebourne Festival Opera. He portrayed various lyrical roles, including Count Almaviva in 'The Barber of Seville,' Iopas in 'Les Troyens,' and several Mozartian characters.

Barry Banks

Breakthrough and European Success

Banks' significant breakthrough came with the role of Count Almaviva while working with the English National Opera. He then toured twice with the Welsh National Opera, performing the same role. He made his debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, as Beppe in 'I Pagliacci.' His European breakthrough came with the role of Tamino in 'The Magic Flute' at Glyndebourne. Impressed by Banks' performance, the musical director of the Leipzig Opera invited him to perform the role of Tamino in the German production, making Banks the first opera performer to appear on the Leipzig stage since the post-war period. Following this success, the tenor continued to portray his signature roles at the Scottish Opera, La Monnaie in Brussels, and the Salzburg Festival.

Success in the United States

In 1993, Barry Banks dazzled the audience in the United States for the first time, playing the leading role in Leonard Bernstein's operetta 'Candide' at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. This outstanding performance marked the beginning of fruitful collaborations with major American opera companies. He performed works by Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini, establishing his name alongside these great composers. Banks graced the stages of the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and many others.

A Diverse Repertoire

While primarily known for his bel canto style, Banks also included works by Bach, Britten, Handel, Stravinsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Sullivan, and more in his extensive repertoire. Recently, the tenor portrayed the roles of Don Narciso in 'Il turco in Italia' at the Bavarian State Opera and returned to the character of Count Almaviva in 'The Barber of Seville' at the Metropolitan Opera.

Discography and Legacy

Working regularly with the recording company 'Chandos Records,' Barry Banks has released approximately 10 CDs under their label. His recordings have showcased his exceptional vocal talents and versatility as an artist.