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Biography

M.A. Oxon (English language and literature)
Member: AEFMAT (Belgian Association of Teachers of the Alexander Technique)

After graduating from Oxford university, Malcolm King opted for singing, and immediately began a career that rapidly assured him an international reputation. His debut at the English National Opera (Leporello) was followed by four seasons as bass soloist at Covent Garden. At his Paris Opera debut in 1977 he sang Masetto (Don Giovanni), the role he subsequently played in the celebrated film directed by Joseph Losey. Malcolm swiftly went on to sing major roles throughout Europe, including Figaro in Paris, Arkel in Madrid, Leporello in Monte Carlo, Mannheim and Glyndebourne, for whom he also sang Caspar (Der Freischütz) and La Roche (Capriccio). He sang the protagonist’s role in La Pietra del Paragone (Rossini) for La Scala and was invited to sing Leporello for the Metropolitan Opera. For the BBC, he recorded operas by Verdi, Rimski-Korsakov, Handel and Vaughan Williams and sang regularly in their prestigious annual promenade concerts. He also performed at numerous festivals such as Edinburgh (Haydn, L'anima del Filosofo, aged 23, a small part, but with Sutherland and Gedda), Madrid (Colline and Arkel), Aldeburgh (René, Iolanta, Tchaikovsky), Aix-en-Provence (Leporello) and Santa Fé (Figaro in Le Nozze).

At the same time Malcolm developed a rich concert career, singing under the most distinguished conductors. For Sir Georg Solti he performed frequently with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as well as in Europe, a highlight being a Beethoven Ninth Symphony in Florence, “In memoriam Italo Calvino”. Particularly attracted by the Russian repertoire, he has worked with Rostropovitch, Rozhdezvenski, Osawa, Eötvös, Cambreling, Howarth,  Foster and Rattle, in works by Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Borodin and Shostakovich, notably the latter’s 13th and 14th Symphonies, with which he has a special affinity.

From 1980, Malcolm, while fully continuing his operatic career, started to put into practice his parallel passion for the teaching of singing. He had been extremely fortunate in his own teachers, renowned guardians of the old Italian tradition of vocal technique: E. Herbert Caesari (1884-1969), Luigi Ricci (1893-1981) and Otakar Kraus, pupil of the great tenor and pedagogue Fernando Carpi (1879-1959). The pedigree of these three masters goes back by uninterrupted transmission to the belcanto of the early 19th century. Having been the recipient of such precious knowledge, now almost forgotten or poorly understood, Malcolm started teaching, aware of the importance of keeping alive the precepts that had sustained the great era of Italian opera.

In 1988, Gérard Mortier engaged him as singing professor and musical advisor at the Monnaie theatre, Brussels, where he stayed eight years, limiting his singing activities to that theatre. Notable among his roles were Leporello in K-E Hermann's celebrated production of Don Giovanni, Fiesco (Simon Boccanegra), Seneca (L’incoronazione di Poppea) directed by Luc Bondy, Assur (Semiramide) with Monserrat Caballé, Pimen (Boris Godunov) and the Doctor in Wozzeck. For the Brussels edition of l'Incoronazione he revised the libretto from the original manuscripts. 

In 1991, having benefited greatly during his career from the practice of the Alexander Technique - a method of neuromuscular and sensory re-education, (see Alexander Technique pages) - Malcolm trained to become a teacher of the Technique, qualifying in 1994. Since then he has incorporated this inestimable tool into his singing-teaching practice, as well as taking other pupils. He has given Masterclasses in Italy, France and Belgium for instrumentalists and singers alike, as well as for the general public. In particular he is conscious of the origins of the Technique, which, in the words of Walter Carrington, Alexander's chief assistant for for many years, "was all about breathing. You went to him to sort out your breathing."

Malcolm has been teaching singing full-time since 1996. His years at the Monnaie Theatre having gained him an international reputation in this field, he later spent twelve years in Paris, where the success of his work brought him an increased number of pupils from throughout Europe, as well as the United States and the Far East. He counts among his pupils those whose careers have taken them to all the great opera houses of the world: La Scala, Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, Opéra de Paris, Vienna, Hamburg, Berlin etc.

In January 2017 Malcolm returned to live and teach in Brussels.