Roland Wood was born in Berkshire and studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Patrick McGuigan and Robert Alderson, then at the National Opera Studio. He was the winner of the 1998 Webster Booth Prize and the 1999 Frederick Cox Award, and was also awarded Second Prize in the 2000 Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Awards.
Roland made his debut for Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 2000 singing a performance of Nick Shadow/‘Rake’s Progress’ conducted by Mark Elder. The following year he made his Scottish Opera debut and in 2002 sang for the first time at English National Opera. Between 2002 and 2004 he was a Company Principal at Scottish Opera and in 2003 was chosen as the English entrant for BBC Singer of the World in Cardiff, where he was a semi-final winner.
He has now performed with all of the UK’s leading opera companies. For ENO his roles include The Count/’The Marriage of Figaro’, Paolo/’Simon Boccanegra’, Kissinger/’Nixon in China’, Alfio/Cavalleria rusticana’, Marcello/’La Bohème’, Zurga/’Pearl Fishers’ and Papageno/’Magic Flute’; in 2012 he sang the title roles of Bunyan and The Pilgrim in an acclaimed new production of Vaughan Williams’s ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’. At Scottish Opera he has sung Robert Storch/’Intermezzo’ and Albert/’Werther’. For ETO he took the title roles in both ‘Don Giovanni’ and ‘Eugene Onegin’. He has also performed often with Nationale Reisopera in Holland, with roles including Renato/’Un Ballo in maschera’, Enrico/’Lucia di Lammermoor’ and Germont Père/’La Traviata’.
Roland Wood has recorded extensively for both Chandos Records and Opera Rara and has also featured often on the concert platform, where highlights include Tippett’s ‘Child of Our Time’ with the Hallé, ‘L’enfance du Christ’ with the English Chamber Orchestra, Donizetti’s Il Diluvio Universale’ with the London Philharmonic and ‘Candide’ at the opening concert of the Edinburgh Festival.
In 2013 he made his US debut at Santa Fe Opera with Germont Père and the following year his Canadian debut singing Renato for the Canadian Opera Company. In the same year hemade his debut at Opera North singing Germont Père, sang Mahler’s 8th Symphony at the Royal Festival Hall with the Philharmonia under Esa-Pekka Salonen and toured Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in Belgium with the Flanders Symphony. In 2015 he made his debut at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden with the role of Roucher in ‘Andrea Chénier’ and returned the same year for Ford in ‘Falstaff’. He also sang Conte de Luna/’Il Trovatore’ and Escamillo/’Carmen’ for Scottish Opera and appeared again with the Hallé singing Mahler Lieder under Sir Mark Elder.
In 2016 he sang his first Macbeth at the Opera Theatre of St Louis, resulting in a number of further invitations to North America and receiving outstanding reviews. 2017 included Golaud/’Pelléas et Mélisande’ at Scottish Opera directed by Sir David McVicar, a first Scarpia/’Tosca’ at Grange Park Opera and his debut Rigoletto at Michigan Opera Theatre. He returned to COC in 2018, again with Rigoletto, and 2018 also saw him back at Grange Park with Renato and make his debut at Welsh National Opera with Germont Père, then the Staatsoper Stuttgart with Scarpia. In the summer he sang Golaud in a concert performance with the CBSO conducted by their Music Director, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and recorded the title role in Elgar’s ‘Caractacus’ with the Orchestra of Opera North for Hyperion, released on CD earlier last year. He also sang the Verdi Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Highlights of 2019 included returns to WNO (Renato and Nottingham ‘Roberto Devereux’), Opera Theatre of St Louis (Rigoletto) and Scottish Opera (Scarpia); performances of Messiah with the English Concert in Helsinki and on tour with the Dunedin Consort. In 2020 he returned to Stuttgart for Rigoletto, sang Mahler 8 with the CBSO/Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and Marcello/’La Bohème’ at Scottish Opera. The Covid-19 pandemic saw the cancellation of Amonasro/‘Aida’ at COC and Eisenstein/‘Die Fledermaus at OTSL, as well as Scarpia at ENO, plus the title role in ‘Gianni Schicchi’ and Michele/’Il Tabarro at Scottish Opera in 2021.
In 2021 he sang Dulcamara/’L’elisir d’amore’ at Scottish Opera, his first Falstaff – again at Scottish Opera – and then at the Edinburgh International Festival, Scarpia in open-air performances for ENO and Gianni Schicchi at COC. He returned to the CBSO with Gražinytė-Tyla to sing The Forester in concert performances of ‘The Cunning Little Vixen’ in the UK, Germany and France. Last year he sang the title role of Don Giovanni for Scottish Opera, Ford at Santa Fe, Scarpia at ENO and the Staatsoper Stuttgart. He returned to Stuttgart with the same role this year, when he also sang Schicchi & Michele/’Il Tabarro’ in the new Sir David McVicar production of ‘Il Trittico’ at Scottish Opera and reprised the role of The Forester with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic under Karina Canellakis at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. He returned to COC with Scarpia and this autumn is back at ENO for Giorgio Germont as well as creating the role of Marx at Scottish Opera in the UK premiere in 2024 of Jonathan Dove’s ‘Marx in London’. Next year also sees him reprise his ‘Il Trittico’ roles at Welsh National Opera and sing his first Nabucco at Canadian Opera.
“Roland Wood is deeply impressive as the initially wronged, then finally vengeful, Renato. He begins with a shy, geeky kind of charm, but grows into the darker demands of the role as they arise and has a roughly attractive baritone sounds that plays well against his two co-stars.”TORONTO STAR, ‘Un ballo in maschera’
“Baritone Roland Wood made a fine Renato, especially in those moments when Verdi allowed him to portray the anguish of a man betrayed by the woman he still loves.” THE GLOBE AND MAIL, ‘Un ballo in maschera’
“As Renato, Roland Wood offers a rich and authoritative sound, his jovial tone of the first act hiding a stormier one that comes to the fore with volcanic intensity in the opera’s final act. This is divine singing, moving one out of the realm of the constant thinking the production demands and into the pure realm of feeling, nay, being itself.” BROADWAYWORLD.COM, ‘Un ballo in maschera’
“As Renato, baritone Roalnd Wood gave a magnificent performance. A fine actor, he wielded his huge, rich voice with great sensitivity and succeeded in making Renato the opera’s most interesting character.” OPERA NEWS
“Baritone Roland Wood gave a landmark performance as Rigoletto. Although his big, meaty voice dwarfed the rest of the cast in sheer heft, Wood was able to capture the sensitivity of Verdi’s score, delivering breathtaking nuance in shape, line, and dramatic motivation. Wood’s tone is as sumptuously rich as it is bright, lending his performance a contemporary immediacy that honors the tradition in which he sings. Wood stood nearly upright, giving the famously hunchbacked Rigoletto only a small limp and an unobtrusive hump so that his mistreatment by the Duke’s goons appeared more about class than disability, a welcome adjustment for today’s sensibilities.” OPERA NEWS, ‘Rigoletto’
“Worth the price of admission is Wood’s performance in the title role. His beautiful, troubled sound is extraordinary in its dramatic scope; in a fallible and human way, he wavers between a man who broods over having been dealt a bad hand, and a determined man who makes tragically misguided attempts at making right all the wrongs in his life. Wood’s voice seems chameleonic, turning from menacing to loving on a dime and always with the darkness of an anti-hero. His aria in the second act rightly brought down the house.” THE GLOBE AND MAIL