Described as 'unflaggingly robust' by Opera Magazine and 'un musicien formidable' by the late Pierre Boulez, Brian is an operatic tenor, based in London (UK), freelancing around Europe and the United States. As a lyric Heldentenor, his favourite roles have been Siegmund in Die Walküre, Paul in Die tote Stadt and the title roles of Tristan, Parsifal, and Peter Grimes.
Recent career highlights have included performing the role of Mark in Ethel Smyth’s The Wreckers as part of the centenary of women’s suffrage; singing Andrei in the English premiere of Tchaikovsky’s The Oprichnik; and making his New York debut, singing Siegmund in Carnegie Hall for Manhattan Opera working with staff from the Metropolitan Opera.
Brian teaches most vocal styles, having had extensive training in classical and music theatre techniques. Additionally, he has music directed a number of musicals over the last decade. This, combined with being an active performer and teacher in UK institutions for over 10 years, gives him a unique amount of experience and expertise for singing students.
A PHOENIX RISING is his debut solo album, released under Parma Recordings' Navona label; the album has been shortlisted for a Grammy Award.
For more information, see A Phoenix Rising – Navona Records
re A PHOENIX RISING
Dr David Vernon, author of Disturbing the Universe, Wagner's Musikdrama: 'This is an absolutely splendid album from Brian Smith Walters. What a voice this lad has! Pure double espresso: rich, dark and immensely powerful. Fascinating repertoire they've chosen too: especially enjoyed the Amanda Ira Aldridge and Szymanowski. Strongly recommended!'
The Symphonist: 'A fantastic programme and in the songs that suit his voice's towering power best like Smyth's Moods of the Sea the communicative force is overwhelming.'
Dr Leah Broad, author of QUARTET, 'I can guarantee you won't want to miss it. Unbelievably powerful performance, 6 world premiere recordings AND the rendition of Smyth's 3 Moods of the Sea that we NEED'
Included on OperaWire's 'Cannot miss debut albums 2023': 'The CD is a cross-section of chansons and Lieder spanning five centuries, and Walters navigates with stunning bravado.'
'Pent' from A PHOENIX RISING included on Apple Music Classical's Modernism and Postmodernism playlist
re Die Walküre May 2023
Seen and Heard International: 'Brian Smith Walters sang with the evident confidence of someone in full command of his role. His standout moment was his cries of "Wälse! Wälse!" which were both heartfelt and a triumph of excellent breath control.'
Music OMH: 'Brian Smith Walters is an excellent Siegmund whose tenor is warm, powerful and expansive. He also uses the space to good effect, facing in different directions for his successive cries of "Wälse!" so practically everyone in the hall gets to hear each of the two quite differently.'
London Unattached: 'Walters is a fantastic and valiant Siegmund, his voice carrying the weight of the conflict in which he find himself embroiled.'
Planet Hugill: 'From this storm staggered the battered and wounded figure of Brian Smith Walters' Siegmund, a tough and capable looking outlaw rogue with the voice of a hero.'
re The Oprichnik March 2023
Opera Today: 'Brian Smith Walters gave a heroic performance of a taxing and frankly unsympathetic role. When finally, in Act Four, Andrey expresses and justifies himself, Smith Walters was able to give us more emotional depth, but through the opera, his strong performance and heroic singing helped anchor the piece.'
Music OMH: 'As Andrey, Brian Smith Walters revealed a highly expansive tenor.'
Wagner News: 'Brian Smith Walters clearly relished the opportunity to sing Act III while in his freshest voice. His bright, clean-edged tenor was like a clarion call, and he was wonderfully bolshy and, frankly, unsympathetic in his uncomprehending conflict with the Wanderer.
And he didn't just sing! As Selwyn launched int the Interlude, Smith Walters produced a French horn and played the horn solo with tremendous elan. It took my breath away. Has any other Siegfried quite literally blown his own horn?'
The Times: 'Brian Smith Walters's bravura as Menalaus'
Tim Ashley, Opera Critic for the Guardian: 'Superb singing from everyone, with [Brian Smith Walters] and Luci Briginshaw outstanding as Menelas and Aithra.'
Planet Hugill: 'The result was wonderfully engaging, and in the performances of the two principals, Brian Smith Walters as Menelas and Justine Viani as Helena, completely riveting...Smith Walters brought a touching sense of realism to his portrayal, and he sang with heroic firmness and amazing stamina so that the final reconciliation was indeed rapturous.'
Seen and Heard International: 'Every inch a Heldentenor, with that historic semi-baritonal hue so characteristic of Wagner roles, Smith Walters offered a moving, vulnerable portrayal.'
The Arts Desk: 'Maybe in this space and given the small instrumental forces, we don't need an heroic-dramatic soprano and tenor, but he's found them in Justine Viani and Brian Smith Walters...both impress in the beaten-bronze middle ranges'
Harmony magazine: 'Brian Smith Walters as Menelas (Menelaus) had the evening's hardest task. I consider it quite possible that one major reason for the scarcity of performances of this opera is that Menalas is possibly the most brutal that Strauss, rarely noted for kindness to his tenors, ever wrote. Technically, it should be unsingable. Smith Walters deserves a medal for attempting it in the first place and another for succeeding so magnificently. He sang with sustained splendour, depicted the character's trauma with deep conviction, and even made the constant shifts of recall and amnesia credible.
In short, he knocked it so far out of the park that the search for the ball had to be called off.'
Mark Berry, author of the Cambridge Companion to Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen: 'Brian Smith Walters and Gweneth-Ann Rand offered pretty much everything one could hope for in the Volsung lovers. The former's Heldentenor thrilled vocally as any Siegmund must; there was, though, much more to him than that. Like the rest of the cast, he took advantage of the lack of full staging to show just how much character narrative can develop through words and music. From outlawry and dejection to apparent victory, only to be snatched away from him by the chief of the gods himself (ever unknown to him as his father), this was a story that demanded to be told.'
Wagner News: 'Brian Smith Walters gave Siegmund a sumptuous regality of voice allied to acute dramatic sensitivity. His 'Winterstürme' soared with the triumph of a Siegfried and the tenderness of a Preislied.'
Opera Magazine: 'Brian Smith Walters showed himself here as a Tristan every inch a Heldentenor. As vividly communicative in words as in music, Smith Walters paced his performance wisely, with as keen a developmental edge as any listener might wish for, culminating in shattering agonies and sweetly long-for release.'
Wagner News: 'He unflinchingly traced the trajectory of the proud hero, humbled by love and racked with guilt, to an agonised, hallucination-ridden Act III of such Vickers-like intensity that one feared both for the character and the singer. His wondrous bronze trumpet of a tenor made the music sound almost insolently easy, and his communication of the text was amazingly vivid.'
The Boulezian: 'For all the surrounding metaphysics, this was a profoundly human journey'