In October 2014, Johnny Herford created the central role of Josef K in the World Premiere of The Trial by Philip Glass at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in a co-production with Music Theatre Wales – The Trial is an operatic adaptation of the Franz Kafka novel of the same title. “Josef K” also marked Johnny’s German debut at Magdeburg Oper in 2014 and he went on to perform this role in the opera’s Romanian premiere in Craiova. In recognition of his performance, Johnny was nominated for the Welsh Theatre Award for Best Male Performance in an Opera in 2015
His current and recent engagements include his US debut for Opera Philadelphia creating the title role in Denis and Katya by Philip Venables; the UK Premiere of Passion by Pascal Dusapin at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London and on tour with Music Theatre Wales; his debut at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma as the Novice's Friend Billy Budd in a production by Deborah Warner; Mr Lockwood Wuthering Heights for the Opéra National de Lorraine; Samuel The Pirates of Penzance at English National Opera; he sang a major role in Peter Eötvös’s The Golden Dragon for Music Theatre Wales at the Buxton Festival and on tour throughout the United Kingdom and South Korea. He joined Welsh National Opera for their production of The Merchant of Venice; he understudied the title role of Pelléas et Mélisande for Garsington Opera and for WNO on tour in Hong Kong.
Further appearances on the operatic stage have included his French debut as Kuligin Katya Kabanova for Opéra de Dijon, and a re-invitation for The Traveller in a new production of The Curlew River; his debut with Scottish Opera in their Highlights Tour; Nikitsch in Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov with Jakub Hrůša and the Philharmonia Orchestra; Le Officier Les Dialogues des Carmélites and Lieutenant de Verbois Fortunio for Grange Park Opera; and as the Speaker The Magic Flute and Emireno Ottone for English Touring Opera.
In contemporary opera, Johnny created the role of Hans Scholl in the world premiere of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ Kommilitonen! and Edmund in Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park; he has also performed Chao Lin A Night at the Chinese Opera for British Youth Opera and most recently he appeared in a production of Biedermann and the Arsonists by Šimon Voseček for Independent Opera at Sadlers Wells, London.
As a recitalist, he has recently performed a Strauss recital with Joseph Middleton in the Leeds Lieder Festival, Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin in Julius Drake’s Machynlleth Festival, Butterworth’s A Shropshire Lad at the Oxford Lieder Festival, and a recital with Gary Matthewman for Lied in London. He regularly performs in the London English Song Festival, which is curated by his long-term duo partner William Vann. In 2016, Johnny made his solo recital debut at the Wigmore Hall with James Baillieu. He recently recorded Mendelssohn Lieder with Malcolm Martineau; a CD of English Songs by Robert Hugill and a collection of orchestrated Faure songs with the Orchestra of St John, conducted by John Lubbock OBE.
On the concert platform, Johnny has performed The Muir with the Mark Morris Dance Group at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, he has also appeared with the English Chamber Orchestra, London Mozart Players and with the Orchestra of St John’s. His concert repertoire extends from Monteverdi to the present day including: Bach St John Passion, St Matthew Passion, B-Minor Mass and Christmas Oratorio, Haydn Seasons, Mendelssohn Elijah, Brahms German Requiem, Mahler Rückert-Lieder, and Vaughan Williams Five Mystical Songs.
He was the winner of the Song Prize at the 2013 Kathleen Ferrier Awards, and of the Jean Meikle Duo Prize at the 2013 Wigmore Hall International Song Competition. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music, is a Samling Scholar and an alumnus of the Britten-Pears School, and studied with Thomas Quasthoff at the Verbier Festival.
Biography not for publication, for an up to date version please contact Oliver Clarke.
"I registered with pleasure the smooth baritone of Johnny Herford.”
Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph
“On se souvient de Johnny Herford, Kuligin de l’extraordinaire Katia Kabanova, donnée à Dijon la saison passée. Il incarne maintenant le Voyageur. Personnage étrange, énigmatique, témoin, curieux, complice ? Ainsi c’est lui, et non pas l’Abbé, qui invite à prier pour l’enfant mort. La voix de baryton, solide, claire est bien projetée.”
forumopera.com, Yvan Beuvard
“Le plateau vocal est brillant : tous les protagonistes livrent le texte avec une parfaite élocution et une puissance adaptée à la salle, à la taille de l’ensemble instrumental et au jeu de leurs partenaires. ... Le Voyageur de Johnny Herford, en costume cravate déchiré et rapiécé, interprète à merveille la fatigue physique et psychologique d’un homme entraîné dans une course folle pour des raisons restant mystérieuses.”
olyrix.com, Damien Dutilleul
“Johnny Herford took the central role of Chao Lin with remarkable assurance.”
Hugh Canning, Opera
"Johnny Herford interprets the role with much flair, singing and inhabiting the doomed young man with complete conviction.”
Mark Valencia, whatsonstage.com
“Johnny Herford’s show-stealing Papageno (cast as a paparazzo) was impressively sung and acted with a sharp sense of comedy.”
Peter Reed, Classical Source
“K, sung by the excellent British baritone Johnny Herford who is on stage almost all the time.”
Daily Mail, Michael Roddy – Reuters
“At the centre of the madness is Johnny Herford’s Josef K. His is a lovely, flexible baritone... his voice finds enough personality, enough humanity, to persuade us to invest in this luckless everyman.”
The Arts Desk, Alexandra Coghlan
“Baritone Johnny Herford gives a valiant performance as K, the wide-eyed central protagonist struggling to comprehend his arrest on unspecified charges.”
The Stage, Graham Rogers
“Outstanding in a committed cast [was] Johnny Herford."
Anna Picard, The Independent
"Herford has a lovely lyric baritone voice which he uses intelligently. He was the focus of the opera without blustering or showing off. I look forward to seeing how his career develops.”
Robert Hugill, hugill.blogspot.co.uk