Opera Scotland

George Shirley Suggest updates

Born Indianapolis, 18 April 1934.

American tenor

George Shirley was a highly versatile tenor and an excellent actor, equally at ease in a range of works from baroque to modern. In Britain he was particularly successful as Pelléas.

He trained at Wayne University and with Therny S Georgi. He made his debut in 1959, as Eisenstein in Woodstock. His first European appearance the following year was as Rodolfo at the Teatro Nuovo, Milan. His success in the Auditiions of the Air at the New York Met led to his first appearance there in 1961. Other American appearances included San Francisco, Santa Fe (title role in Egisto) and Caramoor. In Italy he also appeared at the Spoleto Festival.

Shirley made his first appearance at Glyndebourne in 1966 as Tamino and as Percy in Anna Bolena. He returned in 1974 as Idomeneo. His Covent Garden debut as Don Ottavio in 1967 was followed by David, Pelléas and Loge.

Shirley's many appearances with Scottish Opera began with Rodolfo in 1967. He returned as Pelléas, Pinkerton and Quint.


His recordings included Idomeneo and, most famously, Pelléas. The 1970 Covent Garden staging, during which the recording was made, was conducted by Pierre Boulez, with an excellent cast that also featured Elisabeth Söderström, Donald McIntyre and David Ward.

© Copyright Opera Scotland 2023

Site by SiteBuddha