Kanen Breen is a graduate in drama and dance, of DEAKIN UNIVERSITY.
His early operatic engagements included performances in the rôle of Almaviva for OPERA AUSTRALIA‘s OZ OPERA touring production of THE BARBER OF SEVILLE and the MELBOURNE FESTIVAL‘s production of Jonathan Mills’ THE GHOSTWIFE during 1999, performances which he repeated at the ADELAIDE FESTIVAL in 2000, at the 2001 SYDNEY FESTIVAL and in London, during 2002, at the BARBICAN’s BITE02 festival.
He appeared, during 2000, in CHAMBER MADE OPERA’s MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL season of Michael Smetanin’s GAUGUIN, sang the rôle of Nanki Poo in OPERA QUEENSLAND‘s season of THE MIKADO. He appeared as The Duke, alternating in the rôle of Borsa, in OPERA AUSTRALIA‘s OZ OPERA production of RIGOLETTO, performances he repeated for OZ OPERA during 2001. Of these performances, the SUNDAY HERALD-SUN said, Kanen Breen’s Duke was no happy-go-lucky playboy but a hell-bent, Nicholas Cage-like predator with a voice that gives new hope to the quest for young tenors., while THE AUSTRALIAN wrote, Kanen Breen…sang with exceptional assurance and flexibility, tossing off the high notes without any apparent effort and thrilling the opening night audience. The COURIER MAIL said of performances of the production in Brisbane, Kanen Breen is a real find; a beautifully lyric tenor voice with a great top and he makes a swaggering Duke.
Kanen Breen joined OPERA QUEENSLAND’s YOUNG ARTIST PROGRAM in 2001 as part of which commitment he appeared as Nadir in performances of THE PEARLFISHERS and Monostatos in THE MAGIC FLUTE. For OPERA QUEENSLAND, during 2002, he sang Ramiro in CENERENTOLA and created the rôle of Rory in OPERA AUSTRALIA’s world premiere production of Grabowsky’s LOVE IN THE AGE OF THERAPY in the 2002 MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL, and again, in the SYDNEY FESTIVAL season in 2003.
In June 2003, he made his international debut in the rôle of Rodolfo, in Baz Luhrman’s Broadway production of Puccini’s La Boheme in New York.
Kanen Breen has been a contracted principal artist for OPERA AUSTRALIA since 2004. In his first four years with the company he sang an extensive range of principal roles including Camille in THE MERRY WIDOW , Nanki Poo in THE MIKADO, Truffaldino in THE LOVE FOR THREE ORANGES, Florville in IL SIGNOR BRUSCHINO, Alfred in DIE FLEDERMAUS, Monostatos in THE MAGIC FLUTE and Ralph Rackstraw in HMS PINAFORE, Sellem in THE RAKE’S PROGRESS, Marco Palmieri in THE GONDOLIERS, Dr. Caius in FALSTAFF, the role of Pong in TURANDOT, Andres/Cochenille/Pittinaccio/Frantz/Nathanael in THE TALES OF HOFFMANN, Pirelli in SWEENEY TODD, Almaviva in THE BARBER OF SEVILLE, Rinuccio in GIANNI SCHICCHI. He has also appeared as Nadir in the company’s performance in the MYER MUSIC BOWL in Melbourne, of The Pearlfishers.
During 2008 he made his debut for VICTORIAN OPERA in its premiere season of THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS and, in the same year, for OPERA AUSTRALIA he appeared as Ramiro in LA CENERENTOLA, Count Elemer in ARABELLA, as Pliable and Lord Lechery in THE PILGRIM’S PROGRESS, as Arturo in LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, Squeak in BILLY BUDD and Vitek in THE MAKROPULOS AFFAIR.
During 2009, for OPERA AUSTRALIA, Kanen Breen returned to the roles of Monostatos in THE MAGIC FLUTE and Nanki Poo in The Mikado and appeared as the Shabby Peasant in LADY MACBETH OF MTSENSK, as Reverand Horace Evans in PETER GRIMES, as the Sorcerer in Purcell’s DIDO & AENEUS and as Damon in Handel’s ACIS & GALATEA.
He made his debut in the role of Erice in Cavalli’s opera, L’ORMINDO for PINCHGUT OPERA in Sydney in late-2009 and continued his involvement with OPERA AUSTRALIA during 2010 his roles including Dr. Blind in DIE FLEDERMAUS, Guillot in MANON and Johnny in the company’s world premiere seasons of BLISS in Sydney, Melbourne and at the EDINBURGH FESTIVAL.
For OPERA AUSTRALIA, 2011 included, amongst others, performances in the role of Emilio in Handel’s PARTENOPE for which he received a 2011 HELPMANN AWARD.
His principal artist contract with OPERA AUSTRALIA continued during 2012, his performances including Count Albert in Die Tote Stadt and during 2013, he was engaged by the company for the title role in Britten’s ALBERT HERRING.
During 2014 Kanen Breen continued in his salaried position with OPERA AUSTRALIA singing, amongst other roles, Bardolf in FALSTAFF and appears as Andy Warhol in OPERA QUEENSLAND’s season of Philip Glass’ opera, THE PERFECT AMERICAN in the program of the BRISBANE FESTIVAL.
In 2015 he appeared for VICTORIAN OPERA as The Beadle in SWEENEY TODD.
For OPERA AUSTRALIA during 2015 he appeared as Monostatos in THE MAGIC FLUTE and in the cast of the premiere seasons of THE RABBITS at the Perth and Melbourne international festivals, performances he continued to give during 2016 in the SYDNEY FESTIVAL season. For OPERA AUSTRALIA his roles during 2016 include Remendado in CARMEN and Truffaldino in THE LOVE FOR THREE ORANGES.
He has returned to VICTORIAN OPERA to appear in its premiere production of BANQUET OF SECRETS during 2016 and is engaged for OPERA QUEENSLAND ‘s BRISBANE FESTIVAL season of SNOW WHITE.
2017 has included singing The Witch Of Endor in the ADELAIDE FESTIVAL‘s season of the GLYNDEBOURNE FESTIVAL OPERA production of Handel’s SAUL, his performances receiving a HELPMANN AWARD, the role of Wilhelm in Tom Wait’s THE BLACK RIDER for the MALTHOUSE in Melbourne, the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD reviewer describing his performance as … extraordinary., Sir Richard Dauntless in OPERA QUEENSLAND‘s season of Gilbert & Sullivan’s RUDDIGORE and Arnalta/Nutrice/Famigliari in Monteverdi’s THE CORONATION OF POPPEA for PINCHGUT OPERA.
Of his performances in VICTORIAN OPERA‘s 2017 premiere season of Richard Mills’ ‘TIS PITY with Meow Meow, LIMELIGHT magazine has said, Kanen Breen is an excellent co-star, bringing an extraordinary flexibility in his singing, … and like Meow Meow is a consummate communicator.
During 2018 Kanen Breen appears as the District Policeman in Barrie Kosky’s production of Shostakovich’s THE NOSE, and as Moser in DER MEISTERSINGER both roles for OPERA AUSTRALIA, as the Governor/Vanderdendur/Ragotski in CANDIDE for OPERA NEW ZEALAND and, as Maximillian in the same work for the SYDNEY PHILHARMONIA CHOIRS. He also returns to the role of Sir Richard Dauntless for OPERA QUEENSLAND‘s tour of RUDDIGORE.
He joined the cast of the GORDON FROST ORGANISATION‘s Australian production of CHARLIE & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY during 2019 and 2020, giving performances in the lead role of Willy Wonka.
He also appears as soloist in CARMINA BURANA for the MELBOURNE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA during 2020.
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