Sad news: Popular British tenor dies of cancer, aged 53

Sad news: Popular British tenor dies of cancer, aged 53


norman lebrecht

October 27, 2017

Brian Galliford is no more. He died this morning in Amsterdam, aged 53, after a terrible struggle with cancer. He had lived and worked in Holland since 1991 and was loved wherever he went.

Here’s the official notice:


After a long illness on October 27 2017 the British born tenor Brian Galliford passed away.

Brian was born January 8 1964 and studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. In 1991 he made his home in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

 His operatic repertoire included Herodes Salome (Vorarlberger Landestheater Bregenz), Piet vom Fass Le Grand Macabre (Komische Oper Berlin, Niedersächsische Staatstheater Hannover, Vlaamse Opera, Teatro Nacional de São Carlos Lisbon, Nationale Reisopera and Neue Oper Wien), Don Jerome Betrothal in a Monastery (Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse & Opéra Comique, Paris), The Rector and Bob Boles Peter Grimes (Royal Opera Covent Garden, Nederlandse Opera, Nationale Reisopera), Iro The Return of Ulysses (English National Opera), Tanzmeister Ariadne auf Naxos (Welsh National Opera), Bardolpho Falstaff (Opera Holland Park), Graf Albert Die tote Stadt (Nederlandse Opera), Eisslinger and Zorn Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Nederlandse Opera, Oper Frankfurt, Vlaamse Opera), Monostatos Die Zauberflöte (Nationale Reisopera) and Fatty Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny(Nationale Reisopera).

As regular guest artist at the Netherlands Opera he has also sung in Die Soldaten, Der RosenkavalierBoris GodunovCapriccio and Salome. He has been a guest artist at the Glyndebourne Festival (Betrothal in a Monastery), Bregenzer Festspiele (The Cunning Little Vixen), Nationale Reisopera (Idomeneo, Un ballo in maschera, La forza del destino), Wiener Kammeroper (Owen Wingrave, Die Gespenstersonate), Opera Zuid (I pagliacci) and Taller Amsterdam (Weisse Rose, Los Heraldos) as well as Old Deuteronomy in the 1992/93 Dutch production of Cats. He was involved in a number of world premières including Cuentos de la Alhambra (José Luis Greco), Rixt (Henk Alkema) and Los Heraldos (Ilse van de Kasteelen) as well as a television film production of Udo Zimmermann’s Weisse Rose. In June 2010 he created the roles of 1st Patient and Provocateur in the world première of Alexander Raskatov’s A Dog’s Heart directed by Simon McBurney and conducted by Martyn Brabbins at the Netherlands Opera.

 Brian Galliford sang with conductors including Antonio Pappano, Simon Rattle, Vladimir Jurowski, Esa Pekka-Salonen, Carlo Rizzi, Kenneth Montgomery, Tugan Sokhiev, Ingo Metzmacher, Ryan Wigglesworth, Hartmut Haenchen, Peter Eötvös, Luca Pfaff, Edo de Waart, Reinbert de Leeuw and Valery Gergiev and worked with such directors as Simon McBurney, Benedict Andrews, Martin Duncan, Daniel Slater, Willy Decker, Harry Kupfer, Nicola Raab and Tim Albery.

 In January 2011 he made his French debut to great critical acclaim in the lead role of Don Jerome in Prokofiev’s Betrothal in a Monastery at the Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse and at the Opéra Comique in Paris. He was delighted to return to Toulouse at Christmas 2013 as Ménélas in La Belle Hélène.

 2013 saw his debut at La Scala Milan in Raskatov’s A Dog’s Heart directed by Simon McBurney, conducted by Martyn Brabbins. La bohème at the Saturday Matinee in the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, followed by Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with the Netherlands Opera took him home to Amsterdam, after which he made his first visit to the Salzburger Festspiele as A Fool in Birtwistle’s Gawain. He spent the autumn in London for semi-staged performances of Peter Grimes with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Vladimir Jurowski and then Simon McBurney’s Magic Flute at English National Opera with Brian as Monostatos.

 The cremation will be private.


  • Roberta Alexander says:

    Such a wonderful, generous, loving friend and colleague. R.I.P. Dearest Brian.

    • Christine Moore Vassallo says:

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Miss Alexander. I didn’t know his work. Will search now on internet. (I’m a big fan of yours and thank you for your beautiful voice and artistry).

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    Dreadful news. I was trying to get some information about Brian just the other day. He was a wonderful person and marvellous colleague. What a week: Heather S-L, John Manduell and now Brian Galliford. Bugger.

  • Sue says:

    Awful to read things like this, especially when you consider it included years of suffering.

  • Ira Spaulding says:

    Brian will be sorely missed, he was a wonderful colleague!

  • Polly says:

    Very sad to hear of this, particularly as Mr. Galliford never seemed to be given due recognition. I found his voice beautifully pure and flexible, and think he had an excellent sense of lyricism.

    Is it my imagination or do English singers still tend to be over-shadowed by those from other countries?

    At any rate, Galliford made a lovely and unique contribution to music.