Opera Scotland

Norman Bailey Suggest updates

Norman Stanley Bailey.

Born Birmingham, 23 March 1933.

English baritone.

Norman Bailey is one of the most successful British singers to have specialised in the leading Wagnerian heldenbariton roles, noted particularly for his interpretations of Hans Sachs, which he sang all over the world including Bayreuth, and Wotan.

He grew up in South Africa and Rhodesia. After studying music at Rhodes University, he taught there before moving to Vienna, training under Adolf Vogel, Julius Patzak and Josef Witt. His career was based in Austria and Germany from his first Vienna appearance in Rossini's Cambiale di Matrimonio in 1959 until he made his Sadler's Wells debut in 1967. He was a principal at Linz from 1960 to 1963. After a season at Wuppertal he spent from 1964 to 1967 in Düsseldorf.

Sadler's Wells and English National Opera (ENO)

His Sadler's Wells debut as Mozart's Figaro was quickly followed by Sachs in a new staging of The Mastersingers under Reginald Goodall. This was followed by Wotan in a famous production of the Ring. His other Wagner roles, sung either at the Coliseum or Covent Garden, included the Dutchman, Wolfram, Kurwenal, Gunther, Klingsor and Amfortas. With ENO he also appeared as Kutuzov in War and Peace, Don Pizarro, Scarpia, and Verdi roles that included Luna, Germont, and Don Carlo di Vargas. Non-Wagnerian parts with the Royal Opera included Ford, Balstrode, Jokanaan and Orest.

Scottish Opera

Bailey first appeared with Scottish Opera in the 1973 Tristan, returning for Macbeth, Sachs, Sharpless, the Dutchman and Oroveso. He was announced as Amfortas in a production of Parsifal in the late seventies, but this was cancelled as an economy measure.


He can be heard in recordings of a number of his Wagner roles. The SWO/ENO productions of The Mastersingers and Ring have been issued on live recordings. He sang Reinmar on Solti's recording of Tannhäuser, and later recorded Sachs and the Dutchman with that conductor.

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