Keenlyside began his singing career as a chorister at St John’s College, Cambridge. A keen ecologist, he returned to Cambridge to read Zoology, singing on a choral scholarship, and went on to study singing with John Cameron at the Royal Northern College of Music.
His career has taken him to the world’s major opera houses, singing repertory including Oreste in Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride, Figaro in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, Rigoletto, Hamlet, Ford in Verdi's Falstaff) Pelléas and Billy Budd.
A lover of German Lieder, Keenlyside also performs widely in recital, including regular appearances at London’s Wigmore Hall. His discography includes CDs of opera, operetta duets and Lieder and songs by Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Richard Strauss and Vaughan Williams. Many of his performances with The Royal Opera are available on DVD.
Simon Keenlyside sings Richard Strauss' Cäcilie:
He can next be seen on August 20th at the Edinburgh International Festival with accompanist Malcolm Martineau. The program includes Butterworth's A Shropshire Lad, a touching evocation of a vanishing pastoral England, and Vaughan Williams's Songs of Travel, which explore the innermost thoughts and longings for home of soldiers on the front line. The recital also includes works by Ireland, Somervell, Eisler, Gurney, Finzi, Schumann and Wolf. The concert will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 at 11am GMT/4am EST.
Keenlyside lives on a farm in West Wales with his wife, Royal Ballet Principal Zenaida Yanowsky, and their children. His interests outside opera include planting trees, reading poetry and listening to a wide range of music including flamenco.