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Barry Banks (born in Stoke-on-Trent) is an English lyric tenor who, after a long association with The Metropolitan Opera and English National Opera, has achieved acclaim as one of finest interpreters of the Italian bel canto repertoire.
As a boy, Banks was the boy soprano soloist in his local family church. When he began high school he started to play the trumpet and became a member of the Staffordshire County Music School as a chorister in the Staffordshire County Youth Choir and became the principal cornet player of the Staffordshire County Youth Brass Band. He was a member of multiple brass bands including The Northern Brass Ensemble and Greenway Moor Brass Band, and consequently learned the early musicianship for which his singing has become known. In 1979 he went on to study voice at the Royal Northern College of Music and in 1985 at the National Opera Studio in London. Whilst studying in Manchester he was a regular member of the BBC Northern Singers
His early career saw him honing his craft singing oratorio throughout Britain and Europe and performing with all the major British opera companies including English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Opera North and Glyndebourne Festival Opera singing light lyric roles such as Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Iopas in Les Troyens, various Mozart roles, The Novice in Billy Budd and Nanki Poo in The Mikado. His first major break was going on to sing Almaviva at ENO whilst covering, and then performing the same role in two tours with WNO. He made his Royal Opera House, Covent Garden debut as Beppe in I Pagliacci. His major European break was whilst covering Tamino in Die Zauberflöte at Glyndebourne. After singing an orchestral stage rehearsal, the then GMD of Leipzig Opera booked him to sing Tamino in Leizig and he became the first British singer to sing there in the post war era. This was immediately followed by singing the same role in Scottish Opera, La Monnaie in Brussels and the Salzburg Festival. In 1993 Banks made his US debut singing the title role in Bernstein's Candide at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and this was the start of a fruitful association with the major companies of the US that has seen Banks sing the roles of Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini, composers that have become synonymous with this artist, singing roles at The Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, LA Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Colorado in Denver, New York City Opera and orchestras throughout the States. Although primarily known for his bel canto interpretations, Banks has a diverse repertoire, singing the music of Bach, Britten, Handel, Mozart, Berg, Stravinsky (including one of his signature roles, that of Tom Rakewell in The Rake's Progress) Rimsky-Korsakov, Elgar and Gilbert and Sullivan to name but a few. Banks is a regular stage artist throughout Europe singing at houses including ROH, Paris Opera, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, Bayerische Staatsoper, Berlin Staatsoper, Frankfurt Opera, Stuttgart Opera, Het Muziektheater, Amsterdam, Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, La Monnaie, Brussels, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Teatro alla Scala, Milan, and Teatro San Carlo in Naples.