"There is a notable debut from Sam Furness as the tortured Novice, bullied by Claggart into betraying Billy"
"Furness, however, is terrific in the immensely difficult title role. Gauchely attractive, he… sings it all with great ease and impeccable style… it’s Furness’s night."
"...a voice with star quality, and Furness can float it delicately over a final chord as readily as he can send it slamming to the back of the hall."
The Arts Desk
"There was no need to make allowances for tonight’s cast. The stuttering, twitching, and completely hilarious Vašek (Samuel Furness)… provided some moments of pure comedic genius."
Described as having “all the makings of a star” in the Guardian and hailed as “a lyric tenor clearly going places” in Opera magazine, tenor Sam Furness has sung major roles for Scottish Opera, Garsington Opera and the Teatro Real, Madrid, always earning praise for his compelling acting and innate musicality.
In the 2023/24 season he sings Acis Acis and Galatea for Potsdamer Winteroper. In the summer 2024, he will take part in a new commission for Bregenzer Festspiele by the composer Éna Brennan which will be directed by David Pountney. On the concert platform, he performs the new commission " Awakening - A Cycle of Hope" by Paul Carr with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
Recent operatic engagements include Andres Wozzeck (Royal Opera House), Tybalt Roméo et Juliette (Savonlinna Opera Festival), Kudryas Katya Kabanova (Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, Grand Théâtre de Genève followed by performances at National Theater Brno); Turiddu Cavalleria rusticana and Beppe Pagliacci (Åbo Svenska Teater, Turku); Pang Turandot (Grand Théâtre de Genève); Albert Gregor The Makropoulos Case (Opernhaus Zürich); White King/Mad Hatter Alice’s Adventures Under Ground (Royal Opera House, Covent Garden); Rodolphe Guillaume Tell (Theater an der Wien); Glass Maker Death in Venice (Royal Opera House, Covent Garden); Lensky Eugene Onegin (La Monnaie Brussels, Garsington Opera, Royal Academy Opera and at the Ryedale Festival); Novice Billy Budd (Royal Opera House, Teatro Real Madrid and Teatro Municipal Santiago); Simpleton Boris Godunov (Royal Opera House); Vitek The Makropulos Case (Grand Théâtre de Genève, Vlaanderen Opera); Kavalier Cardillac (Vlaanderen Opera); title role Albert Herring (Opera di Firenze, Opera Holland Park and Théâtre du Capitôle Toulouse); Don José Carmen (Jyväskylä Opera); Tamino Die Zauberflöte (Turku Music Festival); Hoffmann Les contes d’Hoffmann (English Touring Opera); Jaquino Fidelio (Garsington Opera and Philharmonie de Paris); Peter Quint/Prologue The Turn of the Screw (Northern Ireland Opera); Števa Jenůfa (Scottish Opera); The Diary of One Who Disappeared (Shadwell Opera); and Flamand Capriccio, Baron Lummer Intermezzo, Gaspar in the world première of David Sawer’s The Skating Rink and Jack in the world première of Roxanna Panufnik’s Silver Birch (all for Garsington Opera).
On the concert platform he has recently sung Verdi Requiem with the Hallé, Dvořák Requiem with St Alban's Bach Choir, Mozart’s Vesperae solennes de confessore and Mass in C Minor with Hertfordshire Chorus in St Alban’s Cathedral, Stravinsky’s Pulcinella with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
His oratorio and concert repertoire includes Mozart’s Requiem, Bach’s St Matthew Passion and St John Passion, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Handel’s Messiah and Samson, Britten’s St Nicholas and Les Illuminations, Verdi’s Requiem, and Dyson’s Canterbury Pilgrims.
This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.
Janáček's Káťa Kabanová (Váňa Kudrjaš)
Grand Théâtre de Genève, October 2022
The three tenors are perfect and perfectly differentiated: with seductive lyricism and intellectual allure in Sam Furness (Koudriach)
Emmanuel Dupuy, Diapason
Lensky, Eugene Onegin
Garsington Opera, June 2021
Sam Furness, singing Lensky [...] absolutely understands how to construct a scene; both his winding up to fever pitch during Tatyana’s name-day ball and his aria as he awaits Onegin’s arrival for the duel were textbook examples of how to achieve progression and an escalation of emotions
David Karlin, Bachtrack,
Furness delivers Lensky’s verses before his death at his friend’s hands in a duel touchingly, with ringing top notes
David Nice, The Arts Desk
Sam Furness is moving as Lensky
Michael Church, The Independent
Sam Furness’s Lensky seemed to radiate puppyish sweetness (Bingley to Onegin’s Darcy?), his aria beautifully shaped and plangently delivered.
Rupert Christiansen, Opera Magazine
White King/Mad Hatter, Alice's Adventures Under Ground
Royal Opera House, February 2020
Sam Furness of the 7pm cast couldn't have been better or more clarion. Barry gives his White Rabbit (pictured below) short shrift until the trial, but the Mad Hatter has instant impact with machine-gun-fire "noroomnoroomnoroom"s.
David Nice, The Arts Desk, 5 February 2020
The remainder of the cast — Sam Furness, Peter Tantsits, Mark Stone, Clare Presland and Hilary Summers — similarly excel in multiple roles.
Barry Millington, Evening Standard, 6 February 2020
Albert Gregor, The Makropulos Case
Opernhaus Zürich, September 2019
The rest of the cast, too, is absolutely exquisite. It is a hand-picked ensemble, from which the tenor Sam Furness as Albert Gregor and baritone Scott Hendricks as Jaroslav Prus … stand out. But it has to be said, rarely does one see an ensemble in which all eleven singers are so utterly convincing.
Deutschlandfunk Kultur, 22 September 2019
Sam Furness performs confidently as great-great-grandson Albert…
Susanne Kübler, Berner Zeitung, 23 September 2019
All the singers were very good vocally and theatrically. Tenor Sam Furness was outstanding as Albert Gregor, credibly embodying the tempestuous young man with a bright tenor…
John H Mueller, OnlineMerker, 23 September 2019
The male roles were also superbly cast, notably with Sam Furness and his nuanced tenor voice in the role of Albert Gregor...
Deutschlandfunk Kultur, 23 September 2019
… Albert, sung with warmth and beauty of voice by Sam Furness ...
Anna Kardos, Tagblatt, 24 September 2019
Sam Furness plays the nervous and infatuated Albert Gregor, singing and playing the role convincingly.
Das Opernmagazin, 24 September 2019
Holy Fool, Boris Godunov
Royal Opera House, June 2019
And there’s no weak link among the soloists... Sam Furness’s Holy Fool lights up the stage with his sweetly-sung derangements.
Michael Church, The Independent, 20 June 2019
Rising tenor Sam Furness makes his mark as the Holy Fool whose innocent, plain-speaking lines devastate the already disturbed Tsar.
George Hall, The Stage, 20 June 2019
Sam Furness makes a strong impression as the Holy Fool...
Hugh Canning, The Times, 30 June 2019
As the Holy Fool, Sam Furness built on the strong impression he had made as the Novice in Billy Budd - he is a tenor to watch.
Erica Jeal, Opera magazine, September 2019
Novice in Billy Budd, cond. Ivor Bolton, dir. Deborah Warner
Royal Opera House, April 2019
Among a strong supporting cast, Sam Furness stands out as the groveling hapless Novice
Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 24 April 2019 ★★★★★
Britten’s all-male opera demands character singing of the highest quality, and this production highlights British male talent spanning three decades... the wide-eyed Novice of Sam Furness, everyone makes their mark in this motley crew.
Amanda Holloway, The Stage, 24 April 2019 ★★★★★
"There is a notable debut from Sam Furness as the tortured Novice, bullied by Claggart into betraying Billy"
Hugh Canning, The Times, 28 April 2019
And then there was the cast of principals, which was up there with anything that seasoned Budd veterans will be able to remember... tenor Sam Furness made a company debut full of promise as the Novice, warmly sung and strongly projected
Erica Jeal, Opera magazine, July 2019
Among the minor characters... Sam Furness’s Novice – broken by a flogging, then turning into Billy’s betraying Judas – are vividly portrayed.
Michael Church, The Independent, 24 April 2019 ★★★★
"In his ROH debut, Sam Furness shone as the bullied Novice."
Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, 28 April 2019 ★★★★
Sam Furness, making his ROH debut as Novice... an impressive performance in this difficult role.
Melanie Eskenazi, musicOMH, 24 April 2019 ★★★★
There is a host of stand-out performances in the smaller roles... Sam Furness goes from strength to strength in his intensely sung Novice
Peter Reed, Classical Source, 24 April 2019 ★★★
Supporting roles are richly cast, with Sam Furness’s pitiful Novice and the gruff warmth of Clive Bayley’s grizzled Dansker standing out.
Alexander Coghlan, The Spectator, 4 May 2019
The cast was uniformly strong. Sam Furness made much of the Novice’s role, working hard with the text and communicating the young lad’s ignorance and innocence. Furness sang the Novice’s Dirge with honest feeling, as, encouraged by his caring friend (Dominic Sedgwick), he dragged himself the full length of the deck, unable to walk or stand after his flogging.
Claire Seymour, Opera Today, 26 April 2019
Most notable is tenor Sam Furness in his pivotal (albeit not exactly colossal) role as the Novice. The fledgling who sells his soul to ambush Billy Budd out of fear of Claggart is rendered almost sympathetic by the tremulous and yet accurate fashion with which Furness sings of the "floggings and the lashings" he endures as a sailor, using diminuendo and vibrato to suggest total frailty as a sad paradox to a man of his vigour and age.
Sophia Lambton, BroadwayWorld.com, 30 April 2019
London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Festival Hall, December 2018, cond. Vladimir Jurowski
Among the soloists, tenor Sam Furness and bass Joshua Bloom stood out in their long, unaccompanied exchange at the work’s centre... Terrific stuff, wonderfully well done.
Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 9 December 2018
Excellent soloists too, and if I pick out tenor Sam Furness and bass Joshua Bloom for special praise, that is only for the quantity of their solo work in a uniformly fine line-up.
Gavin Dixon, The Arts Desk, 10 December 2018
Flamand in Strauss's Capriccio dir. Tim Albery, cond. Douglas Boyd
Garsington Opera, June 2018
Tenor Sam Furness’s sweet-voiced Flamand is delightfully boyish and ardent, lost in his music, inflamed in voice and heart by his passion for his dual muses, music and the Countess.
Claire Seymour, Opera Today, June 2018
Sam Furness’s tenor is on glorious form for Flamand, the geeky musician with an idealistic passion
Peter Reed, Classical Source, June 2018
Sam Furness was a clear-voiced, earnest and engaging Flamand
David Karlin, Bachtrack, June 2018
Don José in Bizet's Carmen - Jyväskylä Opera
The level of the soloists is very high: tenor Sam Furness sings with his pure lyrical voice with glamour and gives the language a great naturalness; he looks alive on the stage.
Both main roles sing their parts very well. Especially memorable are Furness’ high notes, which predict the possibility of getting to the very biggest stages of the world.
Title role of Offenbach Les contes d’Hoffman, cond. Philip Sunderland, dir. James Bonas
English Touring Opera, October 2015
Furness, however, is terrific in the immensely difficult title role. Gauchely attractive, he charts Hoffmann’s descent from naive idealism to self-destructive despair with compelling veracity, and sings it all with great ease and impeccable style… it’s Furness’s night.
Sam Furness’s tenor as Hoffmann ... sounds almost too seductive for a serial romantic failure. This is a voice with star quality, and Furness can float it delicately over a final chord as readily as he can send it slamming to the back of the hall.
The Arts Desk
The ubiquitous Hoffmann (strongly sung and flamboyantly acted by Sam Furness) is no longer a poet deserted by inspiration but a silent movie director who is equally washed up.
The singing is of exceptional quality. Sam Furness flings himself with total commitment into Hoffmann’s torment – it’s refreshing to hear a British tenor let rip with such full-throated ardour and he plays the part of the hopeless unshaven wastrel to the hilt.
There was no doubting the passion and promise of Sam Furness’ blond-mopped Hoffmann.
The screening of this ‘lesson in love’ is overseen by Sam Furness’s jaded and disillusioned Hoffmann, a slumped figure of dejection, pathos blending with mundanity - a former Romantic hero now reduced to an idler blowing smoke rings. Furness was tireless in the title role and blended an ethereally beautiful head voice with focused lyrical power and rich warmth. Furness also showed good sense in pacing himself and ensuring that he had the stamina to sustain the lyrical intensity; indeed, he began strongly, but held enough in reserve to offer some thrillingly impassioned singing in the Antonia and Giulietta Acts. He was utterly convincing as the somewhat shabby poet-turned-filmmaker.
The cast were on fine form… Sam Furness has a lyrical tenor voice and he did a great job with Kleinzach’s aria in the prologue which he sang with tongue in cheek heroic gusto… he delivered well in the incendiary scenes in the Antonia and Giulietta Acts where he gave us some thrilling singing and a ravishing beauty of tone.
Seen and Heard International
Offenbach’s Hoffmann is a drunkard, a dreamer, a seducer and a murderer. Played with gusto by tenor Sam Furness, we first see him in the depths of drink, goaded, unsuccessfully by his Muse (mezzo soprano Louise Mott) into producing his next work of genius.
No such problem with the lyrical singing of Sam Furness, who made a beautifully convincing Hoffmann, poet and visionary rescued from his own excesses…
Sam Furness in trascendent form…. Furness is lyrical, fearless and tireless in the title role.
Rising star tenor Sam Furness brings burnished and varied tone to his self-destructive Hoffmann.
Sam Furness is excellent as Hoffmann, producing a strong and expansive tenor sound.
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