Martin Snell was born and educated in Dunedin, New Zealand. After law studies and professional qualification he entered the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, England to commence postgraduate vocal studies with Patrick McGuigan in September 1991, graduating with distinction in 1994. He has received many awards and scholarships, including winning the 1993 Mobil Song Quest and a major scholarship from the Peter Moores Foundation, London.
Martin Snell has been a resident artist with Theater St Gallen, Theater Basel, and Luzerner Theater. Since August 2005 he has worked as a freelance performer based in Lucerne, Switzerland and attained Swiss citizenship in 2010.
Martin Snell’s vocal repertoire comprises diverse works ranging from Monteverdi and Handel to Mozart and Rossini, Puccini and Strauss to Donizetti and Stravinsky, Verdi and Wagner, Janàcek and Smetana, Tchaikovsky and Offenbach.
As both a concert and opera singer Martin Snell has performed widely throughout Europe as well as Asia, Australia, and his native New Zealand with conductors such as Paolo Arrivabeni, John Axelrod, Bertrand de Billy, Herbert Blomstedt, Sir Colin Davis, Peter Eötvös, Lawrence Foster, Philippe Herreweghe, René Jacobs, David Parry, Sebastian Weigle, Peter Schneider, Thomas Hengelbrock, Thomas Herzog, Howard Griffiths, Leo Hussain, Pietari Inkinen, Philippe Jordan, Morten Schuldt Jensen, Carlos Kalmar, Wolfgang Katchner, Axel Kober, Jiri Kout, Gustav Kuhn, Marko Letonja, Anthony Negus, Kirill Petrenko, Alexander Polianichko, Sir Simon Rattle, Bohdan Shved, Lan Shui, Somtow Sukaritkul, Jeffery Tate, Mikhail Tartarnikov, Christian Thielemann, Emmanuel Villaume and Sebastian Weigle, among many others.
Notable opera engagements included his débuts as Kaspar (Der Freischütz) for Oper Graz; Daland (Der fliegende Holländer) for State Opera of Prague; Landgraf Hermann (Tannhäuser) for the Greek National Opera at the Megaron Concert Hall, Athens; the title role in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi for Southern Opera (New Zealand); and Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin and the role of Ariodate in Xerxes for NBR New Zealand Opera his début as Ein Notar in Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier at Teatro alla Scala, Milan; Der alte Graumann (Der ferne Klang) for Opéra national du Rhin; Kuno (Der Freischütz), Lorenz von Pommersfelden (Mathis der Maler), Don Pedro (Béatrice et Bénédict), Foka in Tchaikovsky’s Charodeyka, and Montolino in Bellini’s La stranieraat Theater an der Wien; The King of Heaven in Somtow Sucharitkul’s The Silent Prince and Daland (Der fliegende Holländer) with Bangkok Opera; Ein Notar in Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier at the Osterfestspiele Baden-Baden with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by Brigitte Fassbaender and at l’Opéra national de Paris; his role début as Il zio Bonzo in Madama Butterfly for New Zealand Opera, Carlo in the Swiss première performances of Bellini’s Bianca e Fernando for Opera St Moritz and Opera Basel, Landgraf Hermann in Tannhäuser for Staatstheater Darmstadt, and most recently as Il Talpa in Il Tabarro and Simone in Gianni Schicchi in Puccini's Il Trittico at the Bayerische Staatsoper, München, directed by Lotte de Beer and conducted by Kirill Petrenko as well as a revival of Richard Jones' 2014 Production of Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier for the Glyndebourne Festival Opera as Ein Poliezkommissar and Baron Ochs auf Lerchenau, conducted by Robin Ticciati.
Among Martin Snell’s significant concert performances are included Verdi Requiem in Bremen, Chemnitz and Munich; Haydn’s Die Schöpfung in Bern, Basel and Prague; his London concert début in Janàcek’s Glagolitic Mass as well as Kuno (Der Freischütz) with Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra; Mozart Requiem in Basel and Milan; Schubert Mass Nr.6 and Haydn’s Die Jahreszeiten in Madrid; Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Bellini’s A minor Mass in Basel; Weber’s Die Drei Pintos with the Gulbenkian Foundation Orchestra in Lisbon; Handel’s Messiah in Munich, Oviedo, New Zealand, Sydney and Switzerland, among many other engagements, including Tannhäuser with Marek Janowski and the Rundfunkorchester Berlin at the Berliner Philharmonie; Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius in New Zealand; Handel’s Jephtha in Basel; and his début as Fasolt in semi-staged performances of Wagner’s Das Rheingold in Biel/Bienne.
Other concert performance highlights include Hunding (Die Walküre) with Marek Janowski and the Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin on tour in Spain as well as Pietari Inkinen and the Japan National Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo; Pater Profundus in Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Sydney Symphony at the Sydney Opera House and also at the New Zealand International Arts Festival with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra; Stravinsky’s Les Noces in Birmingham, directed by Graham Vick, Bach’s Weihnachts-Oratorium in Palestine, Israel and Switzerland and the world premiere of Anthony Ritchie’s First World War commemorative work, Gallipoli to the Somme, among many others.
Future engagements include concert and opera appearances in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria and New Zealand.