|Year of Birth:||1908|
|Year of Death:||1973|
Owen Brannigan OBE (10 March 1908 – 9 May 1973) was an English bass, known in opera for buffo roles and in concert for a wide range of solo parts in music ranging from Henry Purcell to Michael Tippett. He is best remembered for his roles in Mozart and Britten operas and for his recordings of roles in Britten, Offenbach and Gilbert and Sullivan operas, as well as recordings of English folk songs.
Brannigan began as an amateur singer and attended music college part-time, while working as a joiner, until his quality was recognised and he was awarded a scholarship during World War II. Although he had an international opera career, he performed most frequently with English opera companies, particularly Sadler's Wells opera, and later at Glyndebourne and Covent Garden. Highlights of his broad repertory included creating three roles in Benjamin Britten's early operas, and two more in later Britten operas that were written specifically for him. On record and in concert at the Proms he was a popular interpreter of the bass-baritone roles in Gilbert and Sullivan operas. Brannigan's oratorio and concert repertory was extensive, covering works from many periods.
Brannigan was born in Annitsford, near Newcastle, Northumberland, the son of the local church organist (of Irish descent), in whose choir he sang as a boy. In 1929, he moved south to look for work. He worked as a joiner in Slough, and in his spare time he appeared with the Windsor Operatic Society. In 1934 he enrolled as a night student at the Guildhall School of Music while working days as a government clerk, and in 1938 was appointed as a bass singer at Westminster Cathedral. After a Guildhall performance of Ruddigore, by Gilbert and Sullivan, in which he played a member of the chorus of ghosts depicted in a picture gallery, he was singled out by Sir Landon Ronald: "I want to hear the third portrait from the left", and was offered a scholarship to continue his studies full-time. He later earned positive reviews for his performance in a student production of La Vie parisienne, by Jacques Offenbach, in 1939. He won the Guildhall's Gold Medal in 1942.