The Australian lyric bass, Stephen Bennett, began his professional career in 1978 as a concert and recital singer. He was a member of the Leonine Consort and The Song Company, both 8 voice vocal ensembles. He has appeared throughout Australia as a concert singer and in recital.
In 1986, Stephen Bennett joined Opera Australia as a member of the Esso Young Artist Development Programme and was a member of the company until 1992, when he left to pursue his career as a freelance singer. Operatic roles as a member of Opera Australia include: Sarastro and the Speaker in The Magic Flute, Guglielmo in Cosi fan Tutte, Leporello and Masetto in Don Giovanni, Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro, Publio in La Clemenza di Tito, Truelove in The Rake's Progress, Alidoro in La Cenerentola, Colline in La Boheme, Melisso in Alcina, Count Ribbing in Un Ballo in Maschera and Hermann Ortel in Die Meistersinger. In 1993, he appeared with Scottish Opera performing Colline in La Boheme, Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin and Doctor Kolenaty in Janacek's The Makropoulos Affair.
Since returning to Australia, Stephen Bennett has sung for Opera Australia, The Victoria State Opera and The Lyric Opera of Queensland. Roles include Don Giovanni and Leporello, Figaro, Achilla in Julius Caesar, Colline, Narbal in The Trojans, Sarastro in The Magic Flute, Talbot and Cecil in Maria Stuarda, Guglielmo, Arkel in Pelleas & Melisande and Claggart in Billy Budd.
Since then Stephen Bennett has sung regularly with a number of opera companies as a guest artist, including Opera Australia, The Victorian State Opera, Lyric Opera of Queensland, State Opera of South Australia, West Australian Opera, Pinchgut opera, Opera New Zealand and Canterbury Opera. Roles performed include Figaro in W.A. Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and Leporello in W.A. Mozart's Don Giovanni, Mefistopheles in Charles Gounod's Faust, Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte, Sarastro in The Magic Flute, Achilla in George Frideric Handel's Julius Caesar, Claggart in Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd, Arkel in Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande, Colline in La Boheme, Publio in W.A. Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito, Somnus and Cadmus in G.F. Handel's Semele, Polyphemus in G.F. Handel's Acis and Galatea and Sparafucile in Verdi's Rigoletto, and Don Basilio in Rossini's Barber of Seville.
In addition to his opera commitments Stephen Bennett has been very much in demand as a concert singer and recitalist. He has worked with all the Australian and New Zealand symphony orchestras and choral societies (including Musica Viva, The Sydney Philharmonia and the state symphony orchestras) performing in such works as the B Minor Mass BWV 232), St Mathew Passion (BWV 244), St John Passion (BWV 245), Magnificat (BWV 243) and the Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) by J.S. Bach, G.F. Handel's Messiah, Joshua, Belshazzar, Samson, Saul and Israel in Egypt, Haydn's Die Schöpfung, W.A. Mozart's Requiem, and Verdi's Requiem. In 1998, he sang in the first Australian performance of Tobias' Des Jona Sendung. And in 2000 he performed this work in Cologne with the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln. He has also sung J.S. Bach's solo cantata Ich habe genug (BWV 82) on a number of occasions.
Stephen Bennett has given many song recitals including Schubert's song cycles Die Winterreise and Schwanengesang, Johannes Brahms' Vier Ernste Gesäge and Francis Poulenc's Chansons Gaillardes. In 1999, he sang Claggart, Arkel, Colline and Sarastro - all for Opera Australia. In 2000, roles for this company included Achilla and the title role in Don Giovanni as part of the Olympic Arts Festival. He also sang 2 performances of Tobias' Jonas Sendung in Cologne and the role of Mephistopheles in Faust for Canterbury Opera, New Zealand. In 2000, he also won the VAC Green Room Award for his role as John Claggart in Billy Budd (Best operatic artist in a featured role).
In 2002, Stephen Bennett sang the bass solos for Sydney Philharmonia in G.F. Handel's Messiah and J.S. Bach's St. Matthew's Passion (BWV 244) and for Willoughby Symphony Orchestra's The Dream of Gerontius and appeared in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking for State Opera of South Australia in 2003. He will also sang the roles of Cadmus and Somnus in Pinchgut Opera's debut production of G.F. Handel's Semele.
His 2009 performances for Opera Australia will be Speaker in W.A. Mozart's Magic Flute, Le Bailli in Massenet's Werther, and Cappellio in Bellini's I Capuleti ed I Montecchi. His 2009 concert engagements are G.F. Handel's Jeptha for Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Haydn's Creation for the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, and G.F. Handel's Messiah for the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra.
His recordings include G.F. Handel's Semele, Purcell's The Fairy Queen and Rameau's Dardanus, all on ABC Classics. He appears on ABC Classics videos/DVDs of Don Giovanni, Julius Caesar, Un Ballo in Maschera, Les Hugenots, La Fille du Regiment, Otello and Die Meistersinger.
Stephen Bennett is School of Music faculty member at the Australian National University since 2005.