Julian Close began his career reading for PhD in Applied Physics at the University of Leeds, before studying at the Royal Northern College of Music.
He has since appeared with major companies throughout the UK including The Royal Opera, London, English National Opera, Longborough Festival Opera (in roles including Don Basilio Il barbiere di Siviglia and Fafner Der Ring des Nibelungen), Opera North, Saffron Opera Group (as Fasolt Das Rheingold, Hunding Die Walküre and Hagen Götterdämmerung) and Scottish Opera; as well as at the Buxton Festival; and at major concert venues such as the Barbican Centre, The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, and the Royal Albert Hall; With the BBC Philharmonic conducted by Gianandrea Noseda, he sang Lodovico Otello.
He has enjoyed a long association with Welsh National Opera, where his engagements have included The Athlete Lulu, Osmin Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Dosifei Khovanschina, The Bonze Madama Butterfly, Angelotti Tosca and Truffaldino Ariadne auf Naxos.
In North America, he has established a long relationship with the Metropolitan Opera, New York, joining them for their productions of Fidelio, Prince Igor, Lulu (as Theatre Manager / Banker), Pelléas et Mélisande, Der Rosenkavalier, Otello, Rigoletto, Das Rheingold, Siegfried, Götterdämmerung and Tristan und Isolde. At the Dutch National Opera, he sang Theatre Manager / Banker Lulu, and made his debut at the Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires as Baron Ochs Der Rosenkavalier.
His North American engagements have further included Ramfis Aïda for Pacific Symphony, Fafner Das Rheingold for Minnesota Opera and Fasolt Das Rheingold for both Opéra de Montréal and Washington National Opera.
His concert repertoire includes Elgar Caractacus and The Dream of Gerontius, Mahler Symphony No. 8, Mozart Requiem, Rossini Stabat Mater, Shostakovich Symphony No.14 and Verdi Requiem, as well as Stravinsky’s Les Noces with the Michael Clark Dance Company at the Barbican Centre and New York’s Lincoln Center.
Recent engagements have included his debut with Garsington Opera at Wormsley as The Police Commissary Der Rosenkavalier (broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and Opera Vision), Prince Gremin Eugene Onegin for West Green House Opera and a return to the Metropolitan Opera for Brett Dean’s Hamlet.
Engagements during 2023 and 2024 include Commendatore Don Giovanni for Saffron Opera Group, Talpa Il tabarro and Simone Gianni Schicchi for Scottish Opera, First Soldier Salome for Irish National Opera and Hagen Götterdämmerung for Longborough Festival Opera, as well as a return to the Metropolitan Opera as Sparafucile Rigoletto. In concert, he appears in The Sky Engine, a new community oratorio by Richard Peat and Timothy Knapman at JAM on the Marsh and sings Verdi Requiem at Marlborough College.
Please note that this biography is not to be used for programmes. Current information is available on request.
Indra: Le Roi de Lahore / Dorset Opera Festival 2023
“Julian Close remained totally motionless as a statute of Indra, breaking into resonant voice to take charge in Paradise.”
“There was a particularly fine portrayal of the god Indra from bass Julian Close who dominates the entire opera…”
“Julian Close brings a superior bass to bear on Indra…”
Hagen: Götterdämmerung, Longborough Festival Opera 2023
“Julian Close’s Hagen is vocally majestic, a big black-voiced Wagner bass in the Gottlob Frick tradition, at his best in the tremendous Watch scene…”
The Arts Desk
“Hagen was Julian Close, deploying his superb bass voice to convey menace and cunning, his gestures sometimes as twisted as the character’s personality.”
“Julian Close epitomised dark ambition as Hagen, deliciously chocolatey in tone, manipulating others like a puppeteer who despises his puppets.”
British Theatre Guide
“Julian Close’s superb Hagen is one of the two roles anchoring the psychological complexity. Close sang with huge, effortless voice, and from his first appearance, manipulating the marital prospects of Gunther and Gutrune, you never doubted that calamity had entered the Gibichung court. This Hagen embodied wickedness and was magnificent.”
“Julian Close’s Hagen was powerfully sung, emphasising his tortured side as well as the evil of his machinations.”
“As Hagen, the remarkable bass Julian Close needed only step on stage to own it, and his voice is a force of nature.”
“Julian Close is an outstanding Hagen, whose bass is so rich, firm and powerful that it becomes easy to forget just how much flexibility and prowess is required to deliver his lines with such apparent ease.”
“Julian Close marshalled his gargantuan decibel levels and penetrating dark-grained sound into a performance of brooding, static malevolence.”
“No less vocally striking is Julian Close as the cold and calculating Hagen, his rich mahogany tones adding much to a well-defined portrait enhanced by an unnerving stillness where his every movement feels loaded with menace.”
“Towering over them all was sonorous and cavernous bass Julian Close’s baleful Hagen who was immutable, implacable and evil incarnate.”
Seen and Heard International
“Julian Close’s towering Hagen, long limbs encased in tight black suiting and high boots, is a rock-star villain, his cavernous, coal-black voice dominating every scene he’s in.”
“Julian Close is outstanding as the imposingly well-dressed Hagen, the master of the silent laugh and the superbly sneering voice.”
“Two characters utterly dominate. Julian Close’s Hagen exudes such psychotic menace, vocally and visually, that he reduces his half-brother Gunther to a quivering jelly.”
Talpa: Il tabarro & Simone: Gianni Schicchi / Scottish Opera 2023
“Julian Close made the most of his opportunities.”
“…such expert character singers as Julian Close (Simone), Louise Winter (Zita), James Cleverton (Marco) and Richard Suart (Doctor Spinelloccio) add to the brilliance of the entertainment.”
Commendatore: Don Giovanni / Saffron Opera Group 2023
“As the Commendatore, Julian Close used his huge voice brilliantly to bring matters to a head and Don Giovanni to his just reward.”
Police Commissar: Der Rosenkavalier / Garsington Opera at Wormsley 2021
“With his dark bass, Julian Close was strong casting as the Police Commissar.”
Death: Savitri / Leeds Opera Festival 2021
“…the immensely rich bass voice of Julian Close as Death…”
“…Julian Close’s commanding death, delivered with echoes of the Wagnerian spirit the opera frequently falls back on.”
“Julian Close’s cavernous bass was suitably menacing for Death…”
Second Armed Man: Die Zauberflöte / The Royal Opera 2019
“Andrés Presno and Julian Close sang sonorously as the two Men in Armour.”
Don Basilio: The Barber of Seville / Opera Project 2019
“Julian Close’s delicious bass as Basilio was always a pleasure to hear, and his depiction of the self-absorbed, stuffy music teacher always well observed and gravely humorous.”
Wotan: Das Rheingold / Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra 2019
“There were some truly outstanding portrayals: Julian Close a sardonic, almost bored Wotan…”
Midlands Music Reviews
Fasolt: Das Rheingold / Opéra de Montréal 2018
“As the two giants, Julian Close and Solomon Howard fulfilled the vocal demands splendidly.”
La Scena Musicale
“Julian Close, making his OdM debut as Fasolt, is fantastic, his voice rich, resonant and deep.”
Ludwig van Montréal
Wotan: Die Walküre / Palace Opera 2018
“Julian Close, a habitual Hagen and Fafner, was making his debut as Wotan, and it was a stunner. His huge, black mable voice ruled the platform and had an edge like a spear. Every word was effortlessly audible. Already this was an assumption with godlike authority. This could be one of the Wotans of tomorrow.”
King Mark: Tristan und Isolde / New Palace Opera 2017
“His deep voice was extraordinarily handsome, and the abiding decency of the character he created – and his obvious engagement with the King’s innate decency – elicited sympathy for Marke’s despair.
The tenderness Close brought to describing Isolde as ‘Dies wundervolle Weib’ was heartbreaking and throughout he gave an immensely moving and dignified performance.”
Seen and Heard International
Hagen: Götterdämmerung / Saffron Opera Group 2017
“Julian Close’s burnished, brilliantly executed Hagen touched on the tragic dislocation of this character from the human world he has been forced to inhabit; unlike Siegmund, Hagen is fully aware of his role as a mercenary of Fate, and lives a life of unremitting, calculated cruelty, devoid of love even from the father who engendered him so callously. Close gave us some interesting hints of the pathos of Hagen’s inner desolation, whether bristling with aggression or smiling with dead-eyed determination, his thrillingly expressive bass both rich and clear throughout.”
Fasolt: Das Rheingold / Washington National Opera 2016
“Another standout is Julian Close as Fasolt…”
Banker – Theatre Manager: Lulu / Dutch National Opera 2015
“As the Banker, Julian Close made an unforgettable impression with his sonorous bass.”
Banker – Theatre Manager: Lulu / Metropolitan Opera, New York 2015
“In the small roles of the Theatre Manager and Banker, Julian Close made a notable Met debut, showing a strong dark voice.”
The Washington Post
The Athlete: Lulu / Welsh National Opera 2013
“Especially memorable…Julian Close’s Acrobat, a role hard to define but musically rich.”
The Arts Desk
Fafner: Siegfried / Longborough Festival Opera 2011
“…Julian Close, a fearsome Fafner.”
Prince Gremin: Eugene Onegin / Iford Arts 2009
“Julian Close provided rather an amazing Gremin.”
Stravinsky: Les Noces / Michael Clark Dance Company 2008
“…Julian Close tremendous in the closing scene.”
The Financial Times