Paul Whelan


"Paul Whelan vividly declaimed Dikoj was equally fresh-minted, bringing a rounded humanity to a part that, in his hands, veered towards comedy as well as tyranny. "

Opera Magazine, Andrew Clark, May 2019

"New Zealand-born bass baritone Paul Whelan brought a dark, brooding intensity to the role of Christus..."

Laura Kate Wilson, Bachtrack

"Paul Whelan was an impressive young Wotan - his final confrontation with Alberich had the glow of truth and humanity"

William Dart, New Zealand Herald

"Paul Whelan... delivered a solidly sung account and a disturbing dramatic one (as Raimondo at ENO)."

Alexander Campbell, Classical Source

"Paul Whelan is a stalwart and focused Banquo."

Hilary Finch, The Times

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Paul Whelan begins the 2019-20 season at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in the role of Commendatore Don Giovanni, a role he sang in the summer at Garsington Opera. The artist travels to Teatro Municipal de Santiago to sing the role of High Priest of Bel Nabucco.

Paul began last season at Opera New Orleans in the role of Timur Turandot. At Scottish opera he performed the world premiere of Stuart MacRae’s opera Anthropocene in the role of Captain Ross and stepped into the role of Dikoj Katya Kabanova. While singing Commendatore at Garsington Opera he also sang the role of Mícha The Bartered Bride. In his native New Zealand, Paul joined Christchurch Symphony Orchestra for performances of Mozart Requiem.

Recently, Paul Whelan made his house debut at Lyric Opera of Kansas City in the role of Gremin Eugene Onegin winning outstanding reviews. In Norway he performed Haydn’s The Creation with the Norwegian Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra before returning to US to sing the role of Hagen in selections from Götterdämmerung with the Jacksonville Symphony.

In recent seasons, the artist excelled in the roles of Nettuno, Tempo and Antinoo Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria at The Grange Festival for which he received enthusiastic reviews. He added the role of Sarastro Die Zauberflöte to his repertoire which he sang at Hawaii Opera Theatre; in Geneva he joined the Grand Theatre for their new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Quince, and he appeared at Gothenburg Opera for the role of Claudio Hamlet in a new production by Stephen Langridge for which he won sterling accolades.

Other highlights include the role of Daland Der fliegende Holländer at Hawaii Opera Theatre and New Zealand Opera, Giorgio I Puritani at Boston Lyric Opera and Victorian Opera, and his role debuts as Nick Shadow The Rake’s Progress for Opera New Zealand, Banco Macbeth at Opera North in the UK, and Titurel Parsifal with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Andris Nelsons.

This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.

Don Giovanni, Garsington Opera

June 2019

Paul Whelan as the Commendatore beckoned Don Giovanni to Hell with well-sustained and darkly grave singing...

Henley Standard, Maureen Idowu, 1 June 2019

Paul Whelan’s suavely sombre Commendatore...

Music OMH,Melanie Eskenazi, 3 June 2019

Paul Whelan as The Commendatore had the benefit of a spookily lofty stature and an appropriately grainy vocal delivery.

Opera Now, Andrew Green, August 2019

The Bartered Bride, Garsington Opera

May 2019

The secondary roles are all impeccably performed, with a special word of praise for Paul Whelan’s stiff and unbending Tobias Mícha.

George Hall, The Stage, 30 May 2019

...finely drawn, intensely human portrayals...on the other side of the not-quite-thought-through marriage contract - the stiff and proper Tobiáš Mícha of Paul Whelan...

George Hall, Opera Magazine, August 2019

Káťa Kabanová, Scottish Opera

March 2019

…and Paul Whelan a splendidly gruff bad-tempered Dikoy.

David Smythe, Bachtrack, 13 March 2019

Paul Whelan’s blustering bully Dikoy, ostentatiously covered in the fatuous medals of his Soviet past….all register strongly.

George Hall, The Stage, 13 March 2019

Paul Whelan’s medal-encrusted Dikoy married the comedy and nastiness very effectively.

Simon Thompson, Seen and Heard International, 16 March 2019

Paul Whelan vividly declaimed Dikoj was equally fresh-minted, bringing a rounded humanity to a part that, in his hands, veered towards comedy as well as tyranny.

Opera Magazine, Andrew Clark, May 2019

There’s zeal, too, in Paul Whelan’s idiot Dikoy, a kind of pantomime fool whose actions make a vital contribution to the drama.

Opera Now, Kenneth Walton, May 2019

Anthropocene, Scottish Opera

January 2019

In a strongly sung ensemble with clear diction, Le Broc’s confident tenor shone as Harry King, as did Paul Whelan’s Ross more measured, abrupt phrases...

Bachtrack, David Smythe, 28 January 2019

However the singing by the male singers was very good; both dramatic and expressive the dark bass voice of Paul Whelan’s Captain Ross was powerfully commanding...

Seen and Heard International, Gregor Tassie, 27 January 2019

The entire cast, including...Paul Whelan...performed their distinctive music with well-integrated expertise...

The Guardian, Fiona Maddocks, 3 February 2019

Turandot, New Orleans Opera

September 2018

As Calaf’s father, the deposed king Timur, Paul Whelan’s sonorous bass ably reflected his plight as a once-mighty monarch who has been reduced to beggar status.

The New Orleans Advocate, Dean Shapiro, 29 September 2018

Götterdämmerung, Jacksonville Symphony

June 2018

Bass-baritone Paul Whelan deftly colored his lines with rich darkness and foreboding intensity

Times-Union, Timothy Tuller, 2 June 2018

London Song Festival - Russian Revolution Centenary Concert

December 2017

Paul Whelan’s charismatic orotund bass practically made my fillings rattle. His vibrant tone and rich palate of vocal colour was mesmerising. A riveting storyteller, in Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death he was at once intensely menacing then passionate, earnest, unctuous, even languorous.

Planet Hugill, Robert Hugill, 10 December 2017

Eugene Onegin, Lyric Opera of Kansas City

October 2017

...the magnanimous Gremin (Paul Whelan) and humorous Triquet (Steven Cole), making for a solid, authentic performance. 

The Kansas City Star, Libby Hanssen, 1 October 2017

Outside of the principal quartet, the cast is filled with marvellous vocal talents. Paul Whelan, bass, demonstrates that one can appear in a single scene and still steal the show. His aria as Prince Gremin (“All men surrender to Love’s power”) is sweet and tender, while his bass notes are strong and resonant.

KC Metropolis, Anthony Rodgers, 1 October 2017

What threw Act III for a loop was Paul Whelan’s Prince Gremin: He was such an appealing figure that his famous “Lyubvi vse vozrastï” aria, sung with a gorgeously inflected basso, made us feel that Tatyana had made quite a good choice. Instead of the dumpy dotard that Gremin is often made out to be, Paul was not just the tallest but perhaps the most appealing man onstage, and arguably the best actor. Even though Tatyana was indeed “settling,” she didn’t marry just for fame-and-fortune after all: Gremin is a decent guy, and actually not that bad-looking!

Kansas City Independent, Paul Horsley, 2 October 2017

New Zealand-born bass-baritone Paul Whelan, who made his Lyric Opera debut with his first Prince Gremin, was notable for his sure-footed technique and comfortable embrace of the character.

Kyle MacMillan, Opera News USA, October 4, 2017

Smith towers over most of the cast until he encounters Paul Whelan as Prince Gremin. Whelan’s height and lovely bass-baritone voice felt like an extra twist of the knife for Onegin. Tatyana has replaced him so completely.

Marie Warner, Perform Ink Kansas City, October 2, 2017

Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria

The Grange Festival, June 2017

There’s strong work from her three deplorable suitors – most notably a vocally resplendent Antinoo from Paul Whelan, who like one or two other cast members collects three roles over the course of the evening.

The Stage, George Hall, 8 June 2017

...other stand-out performances include those by Paul Whelan...

The Independent, Michael Church, 12 June 2017

Paul Whelan's saturnine Antinoo did sterling work.

What's on Stage, Mark Valencia, 8 June 2017

The other singers made an excellent team...the excellent bass-baritone of Paul Whelan particularly notable in the multiple roles of Time, Neptune and the leading suitor Antinous.

Mark Ronan, 8 June 2017

Hamlet, Gothenburg Opera

April 2016

King Claudius (Paul Whelan) gave a convincing portrait of a two-faced politician; … Outwardly charming and statesmanlike, he was privately more brutal and depraved, as shown in the Act 2 duet with Gertrude. Mr Whelan’s vocal delivery heightened this contrast, with the smooth, rounded sound of Act 1 giving way to a crueller, angrier bass in the Act 2 duet.

Seen and Heard International, Niklas Smith, 20 April

Paul Whelan was imposing as Claudius.

Opera Now, Andrew Mellor, June 2016

King Claudius (Paul Whelan) is an example of regal authority and temperament.

Carlhåkan Larsén, Opus, 11 April

Bass-bariton interpreted the role of King Claudius. His interpretation is a very credible one, and his dark voice reaches all corners of the hall.

Thorvald Pellby Petterson Sverige Radio, 9 April

Vocal splendour from Paul Whelan as King Claudius.

Afton Bladet, Lennart Bromander, 12 April

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Grand Theatre Geneve

December 2015

Paul Whelan’s portrayal of Quince was wonderfully sonorous.

Klaus Kalchschmid,, 21 November 2015

I Puritani, Victorian Opera

July 2015

Excellent singing also from Paul Whelan as Elvira's kindly uncle, Sir Giorgio...

Michael Shmith, The Sydney Morning Herald (3 July 2015)

Solid support was provided by baritone and bass Nathan Lay and Paul Whelan, ....“Cinta di fiori” was lovingly done with the repeated ascending and descending intervals carefully placed.

Simon Holden, (4 July 2015)

The other men were admirable too, especially Paul Whelan (Giorgio Valton), an immensely tall young New Zealander who recently sang the role for the first time with the Boston Lyric Opera. His long Act One duet with Elvira and the aria ‘Cinta di fiori’, which precedes her Act Two mad scene, were highlights of the evening.

Peter Rose, Australian Book Review (6 July 2015)

New Zealand Bass Paul Whelan as Sir Giorgio had a commanding presence. He delivered us a multi-faceted statesman – assured and confident at the same time as tender and loving to Elvira. His voice is rich and sonorous with great power; his character assertive and secure.

Gregory Pritchard, (July 2015)

As Elvira’s warm and fair-minded uncle, Sir Giorgio Valton (not much sense of a rigid Cromwellian Puritan there), Paul Whelan gave a resonant account of his arias and ensembles. His character drives much of the political element of the opera, but is really more important in providing an occasion for wonderful music. His duets with Elvira’s other suitor, the jealous Sir Ricardo (Nathan Lay) and his brother, Lord Gualtiero (Jeremy Kleeman) were splendidly sung by all three.

Heather Levistone, Classic Melbourne, (7 July 2015)

As Elvira's uncle Sir Giorgio Valton, bass-baritone Paul Whelan's experience in the role showed, portraying a compassionate and trusted mediating force with exemplary diction and a fireside-warmth of tone.

Opera Chaser (4 July 2015)

Jeremy Kleeman and Paul Whelan offered strong vocal characterisations as the Governor-General and his brother.

Peter Burch, The Australian (6 July 2015)

Other standout performances came from Nathan Lay as the Puritan Sir Riccardo and Paul Whelan as Elvira’s uncle Sir Giorgio. Lay’s rich lower register complemented Whelan’s warm tone remarkably well, especially in the second act.

Michael Hammelmann, (July 2015)

Parsifal, CBSO

May 2015

Paul Whelan’s Titurel, sung from high above the orchestra near the organ, was especially powerful.

David Karlin, Bachtrack

The soloists were outstanding, every one an experienced, totally assured Wagner singer and the drama was fiercely etched...

Andrew Clements, The Guardian

Paul Whelan was a sonorous Titurel.

Alexander Campbell, Classical Source

This was an outstanding cast ... Paul Whelan’s sepulchral Titurel...

Anna Picard, The Spectator

The Flying Dutchman, Hawaii Opera Theater

February 2015

Bass-baritone Paul Whelan (Daland, Senta’s father)... in (his) HOT debut, delivered (a) fine performance as well.

Ruth Bingham, Honolulu Pulse

I Puritani, Boston Lyric Opera

May 2014

His voluminous bass-baritone was expressively sympathetic in their scenes together.

Angelo Mao, Boston Classical Review

Whelan’s instrument was remarkably clear throughout its range; he provided, both aurally and visually, a sweet, powerful and awkward opposition to Coburn’s natural grace. His giddy excitement at her happiness balanced his sorrow at her madness.

Joseph E. Morgan, The Boston Musical Intelligencer

Paul Whelan is a commanding presence as Sir George Walton, Elvira’s sympathetic uncle, stalwart in his “Liberty Duet” with Richard.

Jeffrey Gantz, The Boston Globe

Luckily bass-baritone Paul Whelan (another rising star) was given a bit more rein as Elvira's commanding uncle, and used it to full advantage; with Cook's help he made the opera's famous "Liberty Duet" sternly rousing.

Thomas Garvey, The Hub Review

Bass Paul Whelan, singing the role of her uncle and supporter Giorgio, sang with force and intelligence as well, his voice pushed to equally demanding extremes. His aria "Cinta di fiori," at a pivotal moment in act two, had real passion.

Keith Powers, Milford Daily News

Macbeth, Opera North

February 2014

Paul Whelan is a stalwart and focused Banquo.

Hilary Finch, The Times

The minor parts are strongly cast, headed by Paul Whelan's authoritative Banquo.

Ron Simpson, What’s on Stage

Paul Whelan’s rich baritone and his attention to fine details turn his Banquo into a major presence.

Richard Wilcocks, Bachtrack

Paul Whelan’s tall, charismatic Banquo... comes into his own during his supernatural second coming, nonchalantly discarding his jacket, shirt and waistcoat in front of a terrified Macbeth.

Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk

Paul Whelan as Banquo and Jung Soo Yun as Macduff, added huge depth of feeling to their characters with their glorious voices

Richard Trindler, Yorkshire times

The tall and imposing figure of New Zealand bass Paul Whelan in his Opera North debut creates a richly sonorous Banquo in his opening duet with Macbeth and really comes into his own as the Ghost of Banquo.

Opera Britannia

Excellent singing is showcased throughout. Bela Perencz is an imposing Macbeth with a stunning voice that soars across the theatre and he is equally matched by Paul Whelan as Banquo.

Malcolm Wallace

Paul Whelan sings Banquo with a rich baritone voice.

Gavin Englebrecht, The Northern Echo

This ambitious and imaginative production is blessed with two powerful leads [...] and notable performances from Paul Whelan.

Paul Hindle, Nottingham Post

The Rake’s Progress, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra

August 2013

Paul Whelan mediated charm with chill as Nick Shadow, the smoothest of villains. He was seductively watchable, enticing the hapless Tom to ignominy and death.

William Dart, NZ Herald

Wagner Concert, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic

June 2013

... a sensationally headstrong, young King Mark (baritone Paul Whelan, whose wondrous tone resounds from top to bottom of his register).

Roderick Dunnett, The Arts Desk

Paul Whelan’s Operatic Repertoire


Bluebeard's Castle (Bluebeard)


Fidelio (Don Pizarro)*


I Puritani (Sir Giorgio)


Damnation de Faust (Mephistopheles)


Billy Budd (Flint; Claggart)
The Rape of Lucretia (Collatinus)


Bliss (Harry Joy)


Pelleas et Melisande (Golaud)*


Lucia di Lammermoor (Raimondo)
Maria Stuarda (Talbot)


Susannah (Blitch)*


Saul (title role)
Rinaldo (Argante)
Theodora (Valens)


Don Quichotte (title role)


L'incoronazione di Poppea (Seneca)


Cosi fan tutte (Don Alfonso)*
Don Giovanni (title role)
Die Zauberflöte (Sarastro)
Le Nozze di Figaro (Figaro)


Boris Godunov (title role)*


Les contes d'Hoffmann (Four Villains)


The Miserly Knight (title role)


La Cenerentola (Alidoro)


The Rake's Progress (Nick Shadow)


Eugene Onegin (Prince Gremin)


Aida (Ramfis)
Macbeth (Banco)


Das Rheingold (Wotan)
Der fliegende Holländer (Daland)
Parsifal (Titurel)
Tristan und Isolde (King Marke)

* in preparation

Paul Whelan's Concert Repertoire


St Matthew Passion
St John Passion
St John Passion
Cantatas - Ich Habe Genug


Dover Beach




Sea Drift


Stabat Mater


Dream of Gerontius
The Apostles


Judas Maccabeus


Nelson Mass
Pauken Mass
Theresian Mass
The Creation


Des Knaben Wunderhorn




Mass in C Minor


Songs and Dances of Death


The Bells


Petite Messe Solennelle
Stabat Mater




Songs of the Fleet


Stabat Mater


Fantasia on Christmas Carols
Dona Nobis Pacem




Belshazzar's Feast

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