Owen Brannigan


Born: March 10, 1908; Annitsford, Northumberland, England   Died: May 9, 1973; Newcastle-on-Tyne, England  
One of the leading English basses of his day, Owen Brannigan became strongly associated with the operas of Britten and Mozart. He also sang and recorded a number of roles in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and while he made numerous appearances abroad, his greatest successes were at English opera houses, most notably Sadler's Wells, Glyndebourne, and Covent Garden. He appeared regularly in concert and recital as well. Despite his reputation in Read more the works of Britten, Mozart, and Sullivan, his repertory was fairly broad, taking in Handel (Acis and Galatea), Cavalli (Calisto), Offenbach (Tales of Hoffman), Purcell (Fairy Queen), and many songs by English composers (Boyce, Morley, Horn, Warlock, Sullivan, etc.), and folk songs, particularly Northumbrian folk songs. Brannigan possessed a rich, powerful voice and made numerous recordings, most notably of the operas by Britten and Sullivan. Many are still available on EMI, Decca, Chandos, Pearl, and Melodram.

Owen Brannigan was born in Annitsford, England, on March 10, 1908. Though he sang in his childhood and teen years, he became a carpenter. Eventually, though, he began studying music at the Guildhall School of Music in London.

Brannigan won the gold medal there in 1942 and debuted the following year at Sadler's Wells -- at age 35! -- portraying Sarastro in Mozart's The Magic Flute. He then became a member of the company, first from 1944-1949 and then from 1952-1958. It was here that Brannigan appeared in two important premieres of Benjamin Britten operas: Peter Grimes (1945), as Swallow, and The Rape of Lucretia (1946), as Collatinus.

Meanwhile, he branched out, debuting at Covent Garden in 1947 and at Glyndebourne in 1948. He sang regularly with both companies thereafter and also appeared in several important Britten premieres for them, including the 1948 first performance of Albert Herring at Glyndebourne, in which he sang Superintendent Budd.

Brannigan made most of his recordings in the 1950s and '60s. Among the more noteworthy efforts were a pair of Malcolm Sargent-led Gilbert & Sullivan operas -- the 1958 H.M.S. Pinafore (as Dick Deadeye) on HMV and the 1961 Pirates of Penzance (Sergeant of Police) on EMI. But he had many other recording successes, including the 1970 Decca effort of Purcell's Fairy Queen, with Britten conducting. Brannigan was named an Officer of the British Empire by the Queen in 1964. He died from pneumonia in 1973, suffering from the affects of a serious automobile accident the previous year. Read less
Browse 26-33 of 33 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Verdi: La Forza Del Destino / Busch, Wegner, Et Al
    Label: Andromeda   Catalog: 5014 Release Date: 02/28/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Dennis Wicks,  Robert Thomas,  Marko Rothmüller,  Owen Brannigan  ... 
    Conductor:  Fritz Busch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Glyndebourne Festival Chorus
    CD: $9.99
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  • 27.
    Britten Conducts Britten Operas Vol 1
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000321302 Release Date: 10/12/2004   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  James Pease,  Raymond Nilsson,  David [bass baritone] Kelly,  Lauris Elms  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $63.98
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  • 28.
    Gilbert & Sullivan: Pirates Of Penzance / Godfrey, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000018702 Release Date: 05/13/2003   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Arthur Sullivan
    Performer:  Owen Brannigan,  Donald Adams,  George Cook,  Pauline Wales  ... 
    Conductor:  Isidore Godfrey
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  D'Oyly Carte Opera Chorus
    CD: $18.99
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  • 29.
    Cavalli: La Calisto / Leppard, Baker, Bowman, Cotrubas, Trama
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 436216 Release Date: 05/25/1999   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Pier Francesco Cavalli
    Performer:  Dame Janet Baker,  Marjorie Biggar,  James Bowman,  Owen Brannigan  ... 
    Conductor:  Raymond Leppard
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Glyndebourne Festival Chorus
    On sale! $31.98
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  • 30.
    A Warlock Centenary Album / Partridge, Baker
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 65101 Release Date: 06/21/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Warlock
    Performer:  Owen Brannigan,  Ernest Lush,  Robert Lloyd,  Nina Walker  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks,  Douglas Guest,  Barry Rose,  Norman Del Mar  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baccholian Singers of London,  Cambridge King's College Choir,  Westminster Abbey Choir  ... 
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 31.
    Britten: A Midsummer Night's Dream / Britten, London So
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 425663 Release Date: 03/30/1990   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Stephen Terry,  Elizabeth Harwood,  Helen Watts,  Owen Brannigan  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
    On sale! $29.98
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  • 32.
    Britten: Albert Herring / Pears, Fisher, Brannigan
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 421849 Release Date: 04/04/1989   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten
    Performer:  Sylvia Fisher,  Johanna Peters,  April Cantelo,  John Noble  ... 
    Conductor:  Benjamin Britten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
    On sale! $24.98
    ArkivCD $21.99
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