Michael Halliwell studied music and literature at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, and at the London Opera Centre. He has sung in Europe, North America, South Africa, and Australia, and was principal baritone for many years with the Netherlands Opera, the Nürnberg Municipal Opera, and the Hamburg State Opera. He has sung over fifty major operatic roles.
He has published widely in the field of music and literature and is Vice President and Editorial Board Member of The International Association for Word and Music Studies (WMA). His book, Opera and the Novel, was published by Rodopi Press in 2005. He is working on a book: Myths of National Identity in Contemporary Australian Opera (2016). Currently on the staff at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, he has served as Chair of Vocal Studies and Opera, Pro-Dean and Head of School, and Associate Dean (Research). He has recently premièred Lawrence Kramer's song cycles, Five Songs and an Epilogue from The Wings of the Dove (Edinburgh), Nine Songs to Ezra Pound (Vienna), Crossing the Water (Santa Fe), and Sounds and Silences (London).