Brian Smith Walters

photo: AP Wilding

Described by Pierre Boulez as “un musicien formidable” and “unflaggingly robust” by Opera Magazine, tenor Brian Smith Walters began his musical career as a French horn player before turning to singing. In his career, Walters has performed over 75 roles, including such roles as Tristan in Tristan und Isolde, Siegfried, Parsifal, Siegmund in Die Walküre, Paul in Die tote Stadt, Samson in Samson et Dalila, Captain Vere in Billy Budd and Peter Grimes. He has worked with conductors Valery Gergiev, Sir Mark Elder, and Christoph Eschenbach in festivals such as Lucerne, Schleswig-Holstein, Longborough, Buxton, Grange Park, and Aldeburgh with additional work at the Barbican and Royal Opera, Covent Garden. 

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, participating in the finals of the prestigious Lauritz Melchior International Singing Competition, and making his New York debut, singing Siegmund in Carnegie Hall for Manhattan Opera working with staff from the Metropolitan Opera.

In 2021, Walters sang Menelas in Strauss’s Die ägyptische Helena, making him the fourth tenor to sing the role this century. And in early 2023, Walters sang Andrei in the English premiere of Tchaikovsky’s The Oprichnik

In contemporary music, he has premiered various works by Nicola LeFanu, Michael Torke, Domenic Muldowney, and Ailis Ni Riain and has also collaborated with Harrison Birtwistle, Oliver Knussen, and Pierre Boulez on performances of their works. As a student, Walters was the United Kingdom’s sole representative to the first Lucerne Festival academy for contemporary music.

Walters has performed on BBC Radios 3 and 4; SWR Radio (Switzerland); NDR Radio and Television (Germany); and African Television. 

The Financial Times called Walters “full-blooded;” The Times acclaimed his “bravura” as Menalas; Seen and Heard International described him as “Every inch a Heldentenor;” and Harmony Magazine said, “In short, he knocked it so far out of the park that the search for the ball had to be called off.”


A Phoenix Rising

Release Date: July 14, 2023
Catalog Number: NV6532
21st Century
Vocal Music
Tenor Brian Smith Walters is a force to be reckoned with — endowed with a dark, thundering timbre and magnificent, towering style, he is the embodiment of a Heldentenor. His first Navona Records release is a challenging cross-section of chansons and Lieder spanning five centuries, and Walters navigates them with stunning bravado. It doesn't matter whether he sings Purcell or Copland, Schubert or Saint Saens, Tchaikovsky or Barber, Wagner or Szymanowski – the energetic grip Walters has on every single piece is awe-inducing, every rendition buzzing with vibrance and profundity. Accompanied here by only the piano, there is only one word to describe the tenor and A PHOENIX RISING: intense.