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Christopher Ainslie (Counter-tenor)

Born: Cape Town, South Africa

The South African counter-tenor, Christopher Ainslie, started his singing career as a chorister in Cape Town, his home city. While qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in Cape Town, he studied singing part time with Sarita Stern at the University of Cape Town College of Music, and viola with Jürgen Schwietering and Hermina de Groote. In 2005 he moved to London to study at the Royal College of Music, where he graduated with distinction. Since moving to London he has had lessons with Mark Tucker, Paul Farrington, Ryland Davies and David Daniels and has sung in master-classes with Michael Chance, Peter Harvey, Ashley Stafford and Sarah Walker.

Christopher Ainslie has rapidly established himself as a leading interpreter of repertoire within and outside the traditional confines of the countertenor voice-type. Since moving to the UK, he has appeared twice at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (Innocent 4 in The Minotaur and the title role in Artaxerxes), at English National Opera (Helicon in Caligula), at the Wigmore Hall in the title role in a staged performance of Amadigi, at Glyndebourne (Ottone in l'Incoronazione di Poppea and Eustazio in Rinaldo), Opera de Lyon (Voice of Apollo in Death in Venice), Drottningholm Slottsteater (Ottone in l'Incoronazione di Poppea), Göttingen Handel Festival (title role in Tamerlano) and Central City Opera (title role in Amadigi). Other roles include the title role in Poro, Alessandro in Tolomeo (London Handel Festival (LHF)), Medoro in Orlando with Independent Opera, Arsace in Partenope in Les Azuriales Festival and the title role in Rinaldo (Latvia).

Studying with Mark Tucker, Christopher Ainslie is an exponent of the bel canto rather than English choral tradition, and his expressive, colourful and dramatic singing continually attracts critical acclaim. In 2011 he won the Gianni Bergamo counter-tenor competition in Switzerland. He was the first counter-tenor to win the Richard Tauber competition at the Wigmore Hall (2008) and won the Michael Oliver Prize in the 2007 Handel Singing Competition.

Equally at home on the oratorio and recital stages, Christopher inslie's recent performances include a recital at the Wigmore Hall, J.S. Bach's Magnificat (BWV 243), also at the Wigmore Hall (Retrospect Ensemble), a recital with players from The English Concert, George Frideric Handel's Messiah (LHF, Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Philadelphia Orchestra), J.S. Bach's Weihnachts-Oratorium (BWV 248) (Moscow Conservatory), Blow's Venus & Adonis (Les Arts Florissants and B'Rock), Purcell's Ode to St Cecilia, G.F. Handel's Te Deum in D (B'Rock), the title role in G.F. Handel's Solomon (LHF), Belshazzar (Dresden), Saul (St John's, Smith Square), Judas Maccabeus (Vilnius), Jephtha, Theodora and Samson (Cape Town), J.S. Bach's Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244) (LHF), J.S. Bach's Johannes-Passion (BWV 245) (Cadogan Hall) and Antonio Vivaldi's Gloria (Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra).

This season (2013-2014) brings Christopher Ainslie's debut in New York City in the title role of Cavalli's Eliogabalo, Antonio in the world premiere of The Merchant of Venice, by André Tchaikowsky, in the Bregenz Festival and his debut in the role of Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream with Opera North.

He is grateful for the support of Independent Opera in the formative years of his career.

Source: Christopher Ainslie Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (February 2014)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Meret Lüthi


Video: Aris from BWV 170

Links to other Sites

Christopher Ainslie - countertenor (Official Website)


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