British baritone William Shimell sings De Brétigny (Manon) for The Royal Opera in the 2013/14 Season, a role he also sang when this production was created in 2010. Shimell made his Royal Opera debut in 1985 as Schaunard (La bohème) and has also sung Albert (Werther), Marcello (La bohème), Olivier (Capriccio), Guglielmo (Così fan tutte) and Nick Shadow (The Rake’s Progress) for The Royal Opera.
Shimell studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and at the National Opera Studio. He made his London debut in 1980 as Masetto (Don Giovanni). Since then he has sung for many of the world’s leading opera companies, including La Scala, Milan, Vienna State Opera, Opéra-Bastille, Teatro Real, Madrid, Metropolitan Opera, New York, and for Glyndebourne Festival. Particularly acclaimed for his Mozart roles, he has sung Count Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Don Giovanni (recorded for EMI), Guglielmo and Don Alfonso (Così fan tutte) and Papageno (Die Zauberflöte) worldwide. His other repertory has included the title role in Handel’s Hercules, Dandini (La Cenerentola), Malatesta (Don Pasquale), Tomsky (The Queen of Spades) and Sharpless (Madama Butterfly). Shimell has also performed in concert with leading orchestras, recordings including Stravinsky’s Pulcinella.
In recent years Shimell has developed a parallel career as a film actor. He starred with Juliette Binoche in Kiarostami’s Copie conforme (2010) and also had a role in Haneke’s award-winning Amour (2012). He lives in Cornwall with his wife and children, and in his spare time enjoys sailing.
William Shimell as De Brétigny in Manon © ROH / Bill Cooper 2014
William Shimell as De Brétigny, Nadezhda Karyazina as Rosette, Rachel Kelly as Javotte, Simona Mihai as Poussette and Christophe Mortagne as Guillot de Morfontaine in Manon © ROH / Bill Cooper 2014
William Shimell as Don Alfonso, Sally Matthews as Fiordiligi, Charles Castronovo as Ferrando, Troy Cook as Guglielmo, Nino Surguladze as Dorabella and Helene Schneiderman as Despina in Cosi Fan Tutte © Richard Hubert Smith / ROH 2010