Christopher Purves


Christopher Purves has firmly established himself as one of the leading British baritones of his generation. Through his celebrated interpretations of a diverse and eclectic range of roles and repertoire, he is in great demand with many prestigious theatres around the world, working with orchestras, conductors and directors of the highest calibre. He started his musical life as a choral scholar at King’s College, Cambridge, and went on to become a member of experimental rock group Harvey and the Wallbangers.

Highlights of his 2022/23 season include Balstrode in Peter Grimes for the Bayerische Staatsoper, Father in Law in Kaija Saariaho Innocence for The Royal Opera House, and his return to Zurich Opera House as Alberich in Siegfried for their third instalment of Andreas Homoki’s new Ring Cycle. On the concert platform, Purves will perform Gruber Frankenstein with San Fransisco Symphony Orchestra and Haydn Die Schöpfung with Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.

Recent operatic highlights have included the title role in Falstaff for Opéra National de Lyon in a revival of the new Barrie Kosky production for Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, staged performances of Handel Messiah for Opéra National de Lyon, Alberich Das Rheingold for Zurich Opera House, Balstrode in Deborah Warner’s production of Peter Grimes at Teatro Real conducted by Ivor Bolton, a return to the title role in Barrie Kosky’s production of Saul at the Théâtre du Châtelet and Houston Grand Opera, Méphistophélès in Richard Jones staging of Berlioz La Damnation de Faust, and Golaud in Stefan Herheim’s new production of Pelléas et Mélisande at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Creon in Ensecu Oedipe for Dutch National Opera and Opernhaus Zurich for Barrie Kosky’s production of Die Gezeichneten conducted by Vladimir Jurowski. Previous highlights include the title role in Richard Jones’ new production of Don Giovanni for English National Opera, The Protector Written on Skin for the Royal Opera House, title role in Barrie Kosky’s production of Saul at the Adelaide Festival, Alberich Götterdämmerung for Houston Grand Opera, Gamekeeper The Cunning Little Vixen and the title role Saul for Glyndebourne Festival Opera, his debut at the Opera de Paris in Schoenberg Moses und Aron, Alberich Götterdämmerung at the Bayerische Staatsoper and in Siegfried with Canadian Opera Company and Houston Grand Opera, title role Gianni Schicchi at Opera North, Sharpless Madama Butterfly in his house debut at Chicago Lyric Opera, Balstrode Peter Grimes at Teatro alla Scala and Nono’s Al gran sole carico d’amore at the Salzburger Festspiele.

On the concert platform, recent highlights include Beethoven Missa Solemnis with the Orchestra of Opéra de Rouen Normandie, Balstrode in Peter Grimes at The Enescu Festival, Protector in Written on Skin at La Biennale di Venezia, the title role in Bluebeard’s Castle with Opera North, the world premiere of The Anvil – An elegy for Peterloo with The BBC Philharmonic and Ben Gernon, a critically acclaimed Alberich in Das Rheingold with the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert, Peasant in Schoenberg Gurrelieder with Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms, Acis and Galatea with La Nuova Musica, Mozart Requiem with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, St John Passion at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, St Matthew Passion with the Academy of Ancient Music, Elgar The Kingdom at the First Night of the BBC Proms with Sir Andrew Davies and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Haydn’s Die Schöpfung with Masaaki Suzuki and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig; a European tour of Handel’s Messiah with Emmanuelle Haïm and Le Concert d’Astree. A keen recitalist, Purves works regularly with pianist Simon Lepper, and has appeared at the Aldeburgh Festival, Opera North and Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge.

Purves has a great affinity for contemporary repertoire and has created roles in a number of notable premieres, most recently singing Walt Disney in the world premiere of Phillip Glass’ The Perfect American at Teatro Real Madrid and ENO. He also premiered George Benjamin’s Written on Skin to widespread critical acclaim and for composer Sir James Macmillan, Purves has created roles in The Sacrifice at Welsh National Opera, Ines de Castro at Scottish Opera and Parthenogenesis at the Edinburgh International Festival.

Purves’ extensive discography includes the title role in Le nozze di Figaro for Chandos, Handel Messiah and Saul with Harry Christophers and The Sixteen, Donizetti’s Maria di Rohan and Ricci’s La Prigione di Edimburgo for Opera Rara, Written on Skin with George Benjamin and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra; and Mozart’s Requiem with Stephen Cleobury and the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge. Early in 2018 Purves’ second volume of 'Handel’s Finest Arias for Base Voice', was released on Hyperion with Arcangelo and Jonathan Cohen, to great critical acclaim, following the huge success of his debut solo disk in 2012. 

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