Begley studied Costume Making, then he was an actor for ten years (including two
seasons with the Royal Shakespeare Company).
Then he studied voice at the Guildhall School of Music and the National Opera Studio London, and made his tenor debut in
1983 at Covent Garden, where he stayed for six years, singing comprimario parts: Pang, Don Basilio (Nozze di Figaro),
Walther von der Vogelweide, Froh and so on.
Comprimario parts would always remain part of his repertory, but he soon started to sing main parts, too: from Alfredo
(Saddler's Wells) and Nadir (Scottish National Opera), he gradually grew into the dramatic fach: Boris in Ka&tacute;a
Kabanova (1990) and Laca in Její pastorkyňa (1992) in Glyndebourne, Fritz (Der ferne Klang by Schreker)
for Opera North Leeds in 1992, Grigorij in Geneva 1993. In Frankfurt, he sang a small part in Ariadne auf Naxos
(Tanzmeister) in 1990, and Lohengrin in 1992; at the Salzburg Festival 1993, he was again exclusively a comprimario
(Narraboth and Dottor Cajus).
In the second half of the 1990s, he already sang all over the world: La Scala (Loge, 1996; Tambourmajor, 1997), Chicago
(American premiere of Berio's Un re in ascolto, 1996), Berlin State Opera (Max, 1997), Lyon (Mephistopheles in Busoni's
Doktor Faust, 1997), Toulouse (Siegmund, 1999. For the English National Opera, he was Ser Amantio (a two-lines baritone
role in Gianni Schicchi) in 1998 – and Parsifal in 1999. He returned to Covent Garden as Erik (1999) and to
Glyndebourne as Jeník (1995) and Florestan (2001). In 2000, he was Loge at the Bayreuth Festival and Peter Grimes
in Amsterdam. From 2003 to 2009, he sang a lot at the Metropolitan Opera: Laca, Samuel Griffiths (An American tragedy by
Tobias Picker, world premiere, 2 December 2005), Pierre Bezukhov (Vojna i mir by Prokofyev), Herodes and Loge. He also
sang at the Paris Opéra, the Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, the Semperoper in Dresden or in San Francisco.
He retired in 2019.
Reference 1: Kutsch & Riemens; reference 2