Neil Craighead was born in Cape Town, South Africa, but grew up in Calgary. He began his love for singing with the Calgary Boys Choir under the tutelage of Gerald Wirth, a world class choral director and composer now with the Vienna Boys Choir. He studied voice throughout his youth and attended the after school Academy program at Mount Royal College.
After a brief venture into the field of computer science, Mr. Craighead auditioned and was accepted into the University of British Columbia’s Music School. While at UBC he studied with Canadian baritone Peter Barcza and began his passion for opera with his first role as the Speaker in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. He participated in tours and performances in Austria, the Czech Republic and China and graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Music degree in Opera.
In the summers of 2008 and 2009, Mr. Craighead attended the Opera NUOVA Vocal Arts Festival in Edmonton, AB. He studied with Canadian baritone John Fanning and diction master Nico Castel amongst others, and performed the roles of Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte and Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte.
Mr. Craighead joined the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio in the fall of 2009 and began his professional apprenticeship. It is through the COC that Mr. Craighead connected with his current teacher, acclaimed New Brunswick soprano, Wendy Nielsen. He also regularly works with Marlena Malas of the Curtis institute and baritone Tim Noble.
With the COC last season Mr. Craighead appeared as Sciarrone in Tosca, the Usher in Rigoletto and Pinellino in Gianni Schicchi as well as understudying roles in Iphigenia in Tauris and Semele. Other COC credits include performances of Truffaldino in Ariadne auf Naxos, the Speaker in the Ensemble performance of Die Zauberflöte, the Oracle in Idomeneo, and a Japanese Envoy in the Robert Lepage production of The Nightingale and other Fables in Toronto and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Other operatic credits include Colline in La Bohème with Against the Grain Theatre, Leporello and Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni at the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy, Pistola in Falstaff and Dr. Furtwängler in the world premier of The Dream Healer with UBC Opera.
In this, his fourth season with the COC Mr. Craighead appears as A Cappadocian in Salome, the Jailer in Dialogues des Carmelites, and Publio in the Ensemble Studio performance of La clemenza di Tito. He understudies roles in Il Trovatore, Tristan und Isolde, La clemenza di Tito, Salome, and Dialogues des Carmelites.