“The role of Gregor requires a fit and athletic singer to cope with the physical demands. Singing with full-voiced strength across his range, baritone Simon Lobelson brilliantly depicts Gregor’s gradual physical adjustment to his insect-like transformation. Alternately scuttling around the stage in all fours, climbing up the walls and hanging upside down from the ceiling, he conveys Gregor’s increased desperation and perverse enjoyment at his condition.”

- Murray Black, The Australian, Metamorphosis

“As Gregor, Simon Lobelson’s performance is a vocal, theatrical and athletic tour de force as he projects a clean, well focused and rounded sound, all the while crawling under the bed, scaling walls or hanging upside down from the chandelier.”

- Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald, Metamorphosis

“Baritone Simon Lobelson is magically agile in both voice and movement, as his insect self crawls and sweeps across the scaffolding, and ably sings through Howard’s dramatically discordant score.”

- Martin Portus, Stage Whispers, Metamorphosis

“Simon Lobelson leapt and crawled over and around these bars as he gave a brilliant performance in the role of Gregor Samsa… at the height of the action, Lobelson continued to sing while hanging upside down from a light fitting. The baritone gave a wonderful impression of fear and misery as Gregor’s predicament worsened.”

- Daily Telegraph, Metamorphosis

“Simon Lobelson as Gregor is amazingly able to sing with full vitality and range of expression, while at time performing the insect at a level we might expect of professional circus skills- climbing the walls, swinging upside down from a light fitting, rolling on the floor while flailing limbs in the air- his performance here is astonishing.”

- Peter Hurley, Classic Melbourne, Metamorphosis

“Simon Lobelson shone in a vocally and physically demanding role, often managing to sing perfectly in pitch while hanging upside down and between launching off the scaffolding, flitting about it true insect-like fashion.”

- Salina Myat, Cutcommon, Metamorphosis

“With astonishing physicality and a no less persuasive vocal performance (even when hanging upside down), Lobelson was tremendously affecting as the wage slave who wakes to find himself turned into a beetle and so becomes surplus to requirements. Samsa’s confusion, pathos and anguish were acutely coloured in Lobelson’s clear, youthful baritone. That you could discern every word- was a tribute to Lobelson’s singing and to Howard’s word-setting.”

- Deborah Jones, Opera, Metamorphosis

“Simon Lobelson gives a remarkable performance as Gregor: physical and cerebral, outwardly emotional and internally musical.”

- Dianna Simmonds, Stagenoise, Metamorphosis

“His is a highly athletic performance, restlessly clambering over, around, and up and intricate scaffolding set, simultaneously displaying a voice of burnished bronze that projected well…. His dicton was unwaveringly clear and precise, and there were many moments of poignancy and pathos: a performance that will long linger in the memory.”

- Michael Halliwell, Australian Book Review, Metamorphosis

“Lobelson’s dark, emotive baritone and detailed physicality, from arms and legs flailing initially to scurrying, crawling movement, is very visceral and works a great for Gregor. His attempt to communicate with his unsympathetic family, but only repulsing them, is tortuous to see, and his final demise is achingly sad.”

- Jo Litson, Limelight, Metamorphosis

“Simon Lobelson gives an extraordinary performance as Gregor, singing with steely, focused power and expending unbridled physical energy in the highly demanding role…With just a fluttered piece of costume for his back, Lobelson conveys the transformation through his physicalisation, and also clearly demonstrating Gregor’s horror and impotence st the all-consuming change.”

- Simon Parris, Man in Chair, Metamorphosis

“Above all, credit goes to baritone Simon Lobelson in his tour de force as the unfortunate Gregor, who wakes up one day as a giant insect. Part gymnast- crawling across the roof of the set, swinging and singing upside down from the chandelier – part actor and constantly engaged singer, he meets every challenge with panache.”

- Barney Zwartz, Sydney Morning Herald, Metamorphosis

“Buff baritone Simon Lobelson invests incredible athleticism and sensitivity… even when hanging upside down for minutes from an overhead light fitting, Lobelson maintains exhilarating power, balance, conviction and burnished quality of voice…Via Lobelson’s remarkable performance , one is confronted with how usefulness turns to uselessness and ostracism, even when ‘love’ flickers around.”

- Paul Selar, Opera Chaser, Metamorphosis

“Baritone Simon Lobelson produced a fine bel canto line in the song and accompagnato “Behold, O fond, deluded man” (not the worst English title in this work, by the way). He maintained excellent intonation and metric precision even when the choir and orchestra struggled.”

- Judith Crispin, Canberra City News, The Seasons

“★★★★½ “Definitive performances prove madness can be catching . . . The best was saved until last. When Peter Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King burst upon an unsuspecting world in 1969, it created quite a furore. In 2016, the year of his passing, we can look back on the work and glimpse amidst the crash, bang and wallop the first seeds of the great stage composer that he would become. Australian poet Randolph Stow’s text is closely based on the words on King George III, recorded during his bouts of ‘madness’, now believed to be attributable to acute attacks of intermittent porphyria. Even at a distance of 45 years, it’s a bold, dangerous and painful piece – especially for anyone familiar with the workings of the unhinged mind – and thanks to Simon Lobelson’s truly remarkable interpretation (one of the finest pieces of musical theatre acting I’ve seen this year) it was brought to life in all its daring and, perhaps surprising, subtlety.

Director Kate Gaul’s sensitive, bare stage approach (gone were the birdcaged instrumentalists of the original conception) paid dividends. Lobelson’s bewigged monarch descended from on high, to enter a ‘cell’ ringed by the ensemble of six. A gibbering, raving, piteous creature in gown and breeches, he switched effortlessly from rage to despair. With his haunted face half made up, his voice swung miraculously from a thing of shreds and patches to a resonant, raging baritone.

The score calls for five octaves and demands the widest range of extended vocal techniques. Having studied it in detail, I can assure listeners that Lobelson’s brilliantly detailed reading was as close to what Maxwell Davies demands as you could hope to hear. Chock full of squeaks, wheezes, gasps and frequent animal noises, the rasp of air over vocal chords as God is repurposed into “G-o-o-o-o-d” is enough to make singers clutch their throats and wince. Lobelson’s cast iron technique however didn’t falter, and though just occasionally he was drowned in the lower register by the enthusiastic ensemble, he gave a stellar performance of one of music theatre’s most taxing scores.

The bravura vocal performance was matched by a dramatic assumption of the role that equally impressed. Whether muttering to the flautist who hopped birdlike across the stage, addressing Lear-like a passing fly, or hearing voices in his head, Lobelson was deep inside every moment. The mad tormented minuet that precedes the fourth song (To be sung on the Water) saw him at his most compelling, the whispered plea “deliver me from my people, they are within” was a guttural moment of chilling vulnerability. Another coup is Maxwell Davies instruction that the King snatch the leader’s violin and smash it to pieces in a moment of surprisingly alarming violence. A clever switch saw a bemused Andrew Haveron bereft of what one presumes was not his priceless 1757 Guadagnini! Lobelson’s exit, his voice fading almost interminably into the bowels of the Con, had a charnel whiff of Bedlam about it. Again, Lynch held it all together with aplomb, ensuring Lobelson of the best chance to pull off his vocal miracles, while the multi-instrument-wielding sextet gave a masterclass in technical wizardry. Quite stunning.”

- Clive Paget, Limelight, Eight songs for a Mad King

“Oh, and let’s not forget Simon Lobelson’s brief appearance as the shepherd. He’s a Pinchgut Opera regular and lectures at the nearby Sydney Conservatorium so he didn’t have far to travel”

- Steve Moffatt, Wentworth Courier, Pelléas et Mélisande

“Simon Lobelson presented the short walk-on role of the shepherd with stylish affinity”

- Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald, Pelléas et Mélisande

“Simon Lobelson- another Aussie- does a fine job of his single line as the Shepherd”

- Angus McPherson, Limelight, Pelléas et Mélisande

“the grotesque family quartet of Michael Butchard, Blake Fischer, Simon Lobelson and Wade Kernot (dragged up like something out of Monty Python as the stentorian mother) were a class act, especially in their close harmony a cappella numbers.”

- Clive Paget, Limelight, Seven Deadly Sins

“baritone Simon Lobelson had expressive darkness and well-moulded sound as Junius.”

- Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald, Rape of Lucretia

“Lobelson brings a ringing tone to Junius”

- Angus McPherson, Limelight, Rape of Lucretia

“Meanwhile, Simon Lobelson is a steady and very secure presence as the more devious Junius.”

- Ben Neutze, Daily Review, Rape of Lucretia

“baritone Simon Lobelson created a convincing portrayal of the calculating Junius.”

- Murray Black, The Australian, Rape of Lucretia

“…as ever a pleasure to hear, as was Simon Lobelson’s robust baritone.”

- David Larkin, Bachtrack, Rape of Lucretia

“Simon Lobelson was masterful as the jealous and raging Junius. His wonderful baritone voice had everything and more that could be needed in the role. Rugged and masculine yet his hurt at being betrayed by his wife’s infidelity is so palpable in his anguished moments.”

- Deen Hamaker, Sounds Like Sydney, Rape of Lucretia

“Lobelson is suave and imposing as the devilish Nick Shadow”

- Louise Lewis, British Theatre Guide, Rake’s Progress

“Simon Lobelson takes a less melodramatic view of Nick Shadow than some baritones, and seems a fraction undercharacterised as a result, but his sinister half-smiles and secure singing are entirely satisfying”

- Mark Valencia, Whatsonstage, Rake’s Progress

“Simon Lobelson’s dapper lounge lizard of a Nick Shadow – himself shadowed by two silent accomplices, one male, one female (Jon Shaw and Ada Burke) – exuded subtle menace, even if the part lies a little low for his juicy baritone.”

- Yehuda Shapiro, Opera, Rake’s Progress

“Lobelson exudes Giambattista’s dangerous strength, fully felt in the raging dialogue with Caterina (a fearless mezzo match for Lobelson’s baritone).”

- Keith Gallasch, Realtime Arts, Biographica

“All the singers gave heroic performances, particularly Simon Lobelson.”

- Deborah Jones, Opera, Mayakovsky

“Sydney based Simon Lobelson has a full, round baritone with lots of drama at the big end. He is enjoying an illustrious international career and we are lucky to have him for a small scale recital . . . My favourite was The Home for the Appalled [to which] Lobelson’s dramatic baritone was ideally suited.”

- Daniel Kaan, CLASSIKON, Australian Artsong Recital

“Simon Lobelson, in this role and as the ailing archbishop sings with firm smoothness”

- Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald, Biographica

“A stark contrast to Lobelson’s cold, smooth baritone”

- Angus McPherson, Limelight, Biographica

“Spiteri—youthful and nervously vigorous—and Lobelson—sombre, slow-moving, threatening—sing the demanding score with passion and conviction, deftly realising their characters’ wild mood swings.”

- Keith Gallasch, REALTIME ARTS, Notes from Underground

“Brenton Spiteri and Simon Lobelson cope admirably with the demands of the music and drama. It’s a long, difficult sing, and neither puts a musical foot wrong all evening … Lobelson is a saturnine presence; brooding and gloomy with a false bravura that masks an abject awareness of failure.”

- Clive Paget, Limelight, Notes from Underground

“When I go mad, I want to go mad like King George. Specifically, like Peter Maxwell Davies’ King George. More specifically, like Simon Lobelson’s Peter Maxwell Davies’ King George. I want to find the music in the howls, the poetry in the pain. I want to smash violins. Oh alright, maybe not that last bit, but it is good to see how shocking it still is to watch someone whack a violin into the stage so hard that it cracks and splinters into pieces. It’s the culmination of Eight Songs for a Mad King, the moment where the King kills a bird, kills a song, kills part of himself. I knew it was coming, but it was still a shock. My neighbour had no idea, and hearing her sharp intake of breath, momentary disbelief, then horror, was everything you could wish for. This is not a gratuitous gesture. It is a key moment for the audience, the players and the central figure, a moment where art and artistry completely loses it. A glimpse into the abyss.

Simon Lobelson is a magnificent King George in this fine performance by the Verbrugghen Ensemble. He makes the role his own (as, indeed, everyone who attempts this crazy work must) with an endlessly inventive repertoire of noises. What I found most impressive, and most affecting, was the way his performance seemed so organic, so frighteningly natural, whether he was matching his voice with birdsong or bowdlerizing Handel or howling. And how the ensemble was gradually lured into being an extension of the king’s byzantine mind, brilliant and brutal and beautiful at the same time. It was deeply moving.”

- Harriet Cunningham, A CUNNING BLOG, Eight Songs for a Mad King

“Simon Lobelson made a fine baritone narrator”

- Clive Paget, Limelight, Jandamarra

“Simon Lobelson, as Mayakovsky, is wild, implacable and impressive”

- Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald, Mayakovsky

“Lobelson is powerful, charismatic and dramatic in shiny black and has an incredible bass voice.”

- Lynne Lancaster, Sydney Arts Guide, Mayakovsky

“a Christus graced with presence and singing with firm tone”

- Clive Paget, Limelight, Johannes Passion

“an intensely dramatic, totally assured portrayal of the evil Scarpia”

- Peter Williams, Napier Herald, Puccini Gala

“Another strength is Simon Lobelson’s muscular performance as the eponymous poet.  Lobelson’s portrayal oscillates between nonchalant swagger and explosive intensity; he inhabits every inch of the stage with charismatic gravity; and his occasionally thunderous baritone does justice to a poet whose finest work is titled At the Top of my Voice.  Even if it remains impossible to consciously apprehend the music’s inclusion of a stretched spectral analysis of Mayakovsky’s actual speech, the climactic scene, in which Lobelson belts out in synchrony with a pre-recorded and machinelike vocalisation, redoubles the score’s thematic counterpoint and provides bombastic verse the amplification it deserves.”

- Mark Steven, The Conversation, Mayakovsky

“…there are strong performances from a nicely nuanced Simon Lobelson…”

- Clive Paget, Limelight Magazine, Owen Wingrave

“Lobelson was conciliatory and lyrical”

- Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald, Owen Wingrave

“And in the privotal role of Amfortas, darkly bearded Simon Lobelson showed why he is in such demand with his power and presence”

- Robert Henderson, Canberra International Music Festival, Parsifal

“Simon Lobelson and Christina Wilson, both excellent singers, were given little chance to shine…”

- Judith Crispin, City News, Great South Land

“Simon Lobelson gave Ford welcome fire.”

- Robert Thicknesse, Opera Now, Falstaff

“Simon Lobelson brought searing intensity to Michele”

- Yehuda Shapiro, Opera, Il Tabarro

“I cannot remember any previous contestant basing his entire programme on Alberich, and I expected this to be a placky effort from a singer who had bitten off more than he could chew. I could not have been more wrong. He sounded absolutely in command of this difficult music, never distorted or forced his voice, and was completely inside the character from first to last. To my mind he was the contestant who made the most use of the words. A tremendous actor, he had the audience by the throat, especially as he took us through Alberich’s terrible ordeal in Das Rheingold. There was a huge buzz on the audience after his programme.”

- Wagner Society News, Bayreuth Bursary 2011

“Sydney-born Baritone Simon Lobelson was also welcomed to what became a quite worthy Opera House debut. His reliable baritone was particularly beautiful…”

- Paul Nolan, Artshub, A European Christmas, Sydney Opera House