David Kempster

David Kempster


Representation: General Management (Exc. Scandinavia)

Photo: Sørn Kaas Claesson


David Kempster was born in Wales.   He is a rarity in the UK,   a ‘true Verdi baritone’, with a growing number of Italian roles to his name and with recent successes as Guillaume Tell and Balstrode in Peter Grimes,   David continues to go from strength to strength.   He is the baritone of choice for Welsh National Opera and has worked at Covent Garden and with houses in Europe and the US.


Full Biography

David Kempster was born in North Wales and studied at the Royal Northern College of Music. He joined English National Opera as a Principal Baritone in 1998, where his many roles included Marcello La Bohème, Lescaut Manon Lescaut, Conte di Luna Il Trovatore, Poacher Cunning Little Vixen and Teddy Foran in the world premiere of Mark Anthony Turnage’s The Silver Tassie. David has since returned to ENO as Escamillo Carmen, Sharpless Madama Butterfly, Agamemnon La Belle Hélène, and most recently Belcore Elixir of Love. A long and productive relationship with Welsh National Opera has seen David appear in the title role as Don Giovanni, Guillaume Tell and Nabucco, Sharpless Madama Butterfly in the UK and Dubai, the Duke of Nottingham Roberto Devereux, Riccardo Forth I Puritani, Thaos Iphigenie en Tauride, Marcello La Bohème, and his hugely successful role debut as Iago Otello. Most recently, David appeared as Alfio / Tonio in WNO’s double bill of Cavalleria Rusticana / I Pagliacci in celebration of the company’s 70th anniversary.

Elsewhere in the UK, David has appeared at Glyndebourne as Escamillo Carmen and Falke Die Fledermaus; at Opera North as Iago, and Cecil Maria Stuarda; at Aldeburgh Festival as Balstrode in their acclaimed outdoor production of Peter Grimes, and at Buxton Festival as Nottingham, and Miller Luisa Miller. In the US, David made his debut as Sharpless with Dallas Opera, returning to sing Nottingham. He has also appeared as Lescaut Manon Lescaut for Florida Grand Opera. Other performances include Marco Gianni Schicchi at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Sharpless Madama Butterfly for the Royal Danish Opera, and Riccardo Forth I Puritani for Den Jyske Opera. David also appeared at the Royal Ballet in Will Tuckett’s production of Elizabeth, which was filmed for Sky Arts.

On the concert platform, David has performed with leading orchestras, including Fauré Requiem with BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Orff’s Carmina Burana with London Concert Orchestra, Elgar’s The Apostles with the Hallé and Dream of Gerontius with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and Handel’s Judas Maccabeus with the London Mozart Players. He has appeared at the BBC Proms, National Eisteddfod of Wales, the Welsh Proms and the Machynlleth Festival. Recent performances include Peter The Apostles at the BBC Proms and Aida at the Royal Albert Hall, Eugene Onegin with the Hallé and Sir Mark Elder, the title role of Prince Igor and Nabucco for Chelsea Opera Group at Cadogan Hall, and Leonore at the Schlossfestspiele, Ludwigsburg. His recordings include Sévère in Donizetti’s Les Martyrs for Opera Rara, chosen as Album of the Year at the 2016 International Opera Awards.

David is currently a member of the solo ensemble at the Royal Danish Opera, Copenhagen, where his roles have included the title role in Rigoletto, Sharpless Madama Butterfly, Jack Rance La fanciulla del West, Roc in Exterminating Angel, Iago Otello, Di Luna in Francisco Negrin’s new production of Il Trovatore, Marcello La Boheme, and Scarpia Tosca.

His roles for the 19-20 season in Copenhagen include Escamillo Carmen, the title role in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, and Giorgio Germont La Traviata. David will also return to Wales for a performance of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius with Cantorion Menai in Bangor.

Promoters please note: if you wish to include this biography in a concert programme etc, please contact Hazard Chase to make sure you receive the most up to date version.  Email: Tom Wood



Kempster in Copenhagen

August 14th, 2018

Baritone begins exciting season at Royal Danish Opera

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Butterfly returns to WNO

February 8th, 2017

Rebecca Afonwy-Jones (Suzuki), David Kempster (Sharpless) and Judith Howarth (Cio-Cio San) appear in the revival of Puccini’s heartbreaker.

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Baritone performs in Elizabeth revival

January 7th, 2016

David Kempster stars in sold out performances at the Linbury

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David Kempster stars in I Puritani

September 11th, 2015

Kempster debuts as Riccardo in a new production of Bellini’s epic final opera

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Verdi OTELLO (Royal Danish Opera)

“Smith’s cornered-animal Otello posed a fitting contrast to an Iago from David Kempster that was plotted with wondrous control. Kempster is the latest addition to the Royal Danish Opera’s ensemble and his presence would have justified Verdi’s original idea to title his opera after the villain. His singing was idiomatic and possessed a calm, warm authority that appeared even to compel Morandi’s roaring orchestra into complicity.’
Andrew Mellor, Opera Now (July/August 2018)


Verdi NABUCCO (Chelsea Opera Group)

“his long-breathed singing was idiomatically phrased and full-toned, not least at the very top.”
Yehuda Shapiro, Opera Magazine (August 2017)


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Mascagni: CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA (Welsh National Opera)

“What heat and dynamism there was in this nun-heavy picture postcard was provided by David Kempster’s sharp-eyed Alfio… Kempster husbanded his resources carefully, delivering a tautly nuanced portrait of the calipered, bitter Tonio in Pagliacci.”
Anna Picard, The Times (May 2016)

“David Kempster handles his four personae with customary aplomb”
Rian Evans, The Guardian (May 2016)

“David Kempster [is] solid as Alfio, though for all-round excellence one must turn to Rebecca Afonwy-Jones’s butter-wouldn’t-melt Lola and Anne-Marie Owens’s fraught Mamma Lucia.”
George Hall, The Stage (May 2016)

“The baritone David Kempster showed again just what an asset he has been to the company in recent years, combining the cuckolded Alfio with some finely differentiated characterization as Tonio in Pagliacci”
Rian Evans, Opera Magazine (August 2016)


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Rossini GUILLAUME TELL – Welsh National Opera

‘David Kempster, one of the best of Wales’s current splendid crop of bass baritones, made a fine, heroic figure as William Tell”
Simon Rees, bachtrack (16/09/2014)

‘David Kempster delivers a performance of great tenderness and gravitas as Tell’
Anna Picard, The Times (17/09/2014)

‘As Tell, David Kempster is touchingly humane’
Andrew Clements, The Guardian (14/09/2014)

‘As Tell, David Kempster radiated a quiet nobility, which was matched by classy, smooth singing’
Hugo Shirley, The Spectator (27/09/2014)

‘As Tell, David Kempster sang with powerful dignity’
Glyn Pursglove, Seen and Heard International (7/10/2014)

Donizetti ROBERTO DEVEREUX – Welsh National Opera

‘David Kempster and Leah-Marian Jones contributed to the intrigue with vivid, confident performances as the Duke and Duchess of Nottingham…’
Rupert Christiansen, Telegraph (3/10/13)

‘David Kempster a tour de force as Sarah’s husband…’
Rian Evans, Guardian (3/10/13)

‘David Kempster, in top-class villainous-baritone form’
Richard Morrison, Times (Oct ’13)

‘David Kempster is nothing short of magnificent as her husband the Duke…’
George Hall, The Stage (3/10/13)

‘Sara’s scenes with her husband, the powerfully sung Nottingham from David Kempster, were gripping and disturbing.’
Mike Smith, Theatre Wales (4/10/13)

Puccini  LA BOHEME – Welsh National Opera

“David Kempster as Marcello was vocally outstanding, what a tower of strength he has been for WNO in recent years. His imposing physical stature gives him advantages, but it is his capacity in creating a character and singing with exemplary tonal variety and colour that sets him out in this production”
Robert J Farr, Seen & Heard (22 October 2012)

“David Kempster’s robust Marcello…anchors the entire performance…Giselle Allen’s touching Mimì displays all the right qualities, her warm soprano contrasting effectively with that of Kate Valentine’s feisty Musetta.”
John Allison, The Telegraph (24 October 2012)

AIDA – Royal Albert Hall (2012)

“David Kempster (Amonasro) yet again proved himself the UK’s most convincing Verdi baritone”
Opera Magazine, Hugh Canning (May 2012)

OTELLO – Welsh National Opera (September 2008)

“David Kempster’s incisive Iago”
The Sunday Times, Hugh Canning (28 September 2008)

“But the surprise is David Kempster … he has blossomed into a true Verdi baritone.”
The Financial Times (www.ft.com), Andrew Clark (22 September 2008)

“David Kempster’s devilish Iago. Kempster towers over Roocroft and Dennis O’Neill’s Otello not just physically but vocally, to the point where he challenges the outstanding WNO chorus and Carlo Rizzi’s polished conducting for the evening’s laurels.”
The Guardian, Anthony Holden (28 September 2008)

“He sports an effective curled lip, so, as often, Iago stole the show.”
The Spectator, Michael Tanner (24 September 2008)

“David Kempster’s splendidly volatile Iago plants poisonous doubts in the mind of Dennis O’Neill’s Otello”
The Times Online (www.entertainment.timesonline.co.uk), Richard Morrison (22 September 2008)

“His Iago was held with by a firm legato and crisp diction”
The Telegraph, Rupert Christiansen (28 September 2008)

“A dramatically accomplished Iago … He dominated Otello from the start”
The Western Mail, Mike Smith (22 September 2008)

“It was excellent to have this strong voiced, dramatically accomplished performer on the Welsh stage.”
Theatre in Wales (www.theatre-wales.co.uk), Mike Smith (20 September 2008)

“A powerful performance and one that convinced one of the further potential of Kempster … he became a compelling stage presence, vocally direct and achieving a plausible degree of hypnotic power in his manipulation of Otello, Roderigo and Cassio. His “Era la notte” had a thoroughly disturbing plausibility, a minor masterpiece of hushed, evocative menace. Kempster’s Iago was a definite success. His approximation to speech rhythms was, at times, very effective and throughout he was sensitive and thoughtful in his interpretation of Boito’s text.”
Music Web International (www.musicwebinternational.com), Glyn Pursglove (September 2008)

“David Kempster’s Iago towers over Otello and completely dominates him.”
Morning Star, David Nicholson (24 September 2008)

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Discography & Repertoire


Steuart Bedford conducts the Britten-Pears Orchestra in Tim Albery’s production filmed live on Aldeburgh beach.  Cast includes Alan Oke (Grimes), David Kempster (Balstrode) and Giselle Allen (Ellen Orford)



With the Hallé Orchestra and Choir, conducted by Sir Mark Elder with Rebecca Evans (soprano), Alice Coote (mezzo), Paul Groves (tenor), Jacques Imbrailo (baritone), David Kempster (baritone) and Brindley Sherratt (bass)



David Kempster (baritone) sings a selection of songs from around the world with Heather Bills (piano) and A Bryn Parri (piano).

SAIN (2008)

Artist Manager

Sue Nicholls (Cambridge)
01223 706023

Associate Artist Manager

Tom Wood (London)
020 7084 6951