Nicholas Braithwaite, F.R.A.M.
Nicholas Braithwaite was born into an operatic family ‑ his father Warwick was Music Director of Welsh National Opera and the Elizabethan Opera Trust in Australia, and was a conductor for many years at Sadler’s Wells Opera and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
Nicholas was taken to his first opera at the age of two months, the beginning of a life long involvement with the art form. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, the Vienna Academy of Music and for six seasons as a member of the Bayreuth Festival Master Classes.
His first professional experience of Opera was as an orchestral player, then as chorus master and finally as conductor for many years with Chelsea Opera Group in London ‑ the cradle of most of the major talent emerging in the post war period in the United Kingdom, starting with Sir Colin Davis.
He then went on to conduct opera as a freelance for various companies in Ireland and with Welsh National Opera Company. Subsequently he was appointed Associate Principal Conductor of English National Opera, where he conducted a vast repertoire varying from Penderecki's The Devils of Loudun, through Bizet’s Carmen, Verdi's La traviata and Wagner's Lohengrin, plus many other operas. During his time with ENO he conducted several cycles of Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung to widespread critical and public acclaim.
Since then Mr. Braithwaite has been Music Director of Glyndebourne Touring Opera Company and Gothenberg’s Stora Teater, and he has also conducted at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the Glyndebourne Festival, Norwegian Opera, Hamburg State Opera, Opera New Zealand, State Opera of South Australia, Opera Australia and others.
In 1983 his television recording of "Et Sjakspill", an opera written specially for Norwegian Television, won the Salzburg TV Opera Prize.
In 1987 Mr. Braithwaite took the Gothenberg Stora Teater production of Shostakovich's Katerina Ismailova to the newly restored Semper Oper in Dresden, a performance that was an outstanding success in one of Germany's leading Opera houses.
In 1995 he conducted the first performance in New Zealand of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes for Wellington City Opera. Other recent performances have been Bizet’s Carmen for Wellington City Opera and for the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, and Strauss’ Die Fledermaus and Carmen for Scottish Opera and an outstandingly successful Boris Godunov for Opera New Zealand. In 2006 he won a Green Room Award for his conducting of Verdi’s La traviata with Australian Opera. In 2009 he conducted Der fliegende Holländer for State Opera of South Australia, and in 2011 an extremely successful Capriccio for Opera Australia with Cheryl Barker and Tosca for Opera Queensland, also with Cheryl Barker.
Nicholas Braithwaite is recognized as one of the outstanding opera conductors to emerge from the United Kingdom in recent years. He has conducted more than 70 operas with great critical and public success, among them 11 Verdi operas and all Wagner's operas from Rienzi onwards, including 7 Ring Cycles.
He has recorded more than 35 CDs of orchestral works with orchestras such as the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the New Zealand Chamber Orchestra.
His opera recordings include Wagner’s Lohengrin, Penderecki’s The Devils of Loudun and Carmen with English National Opera on the Oriel Music Label, and Verdi’s Requiem with the Auckland Philharmonia on the Atoll label.