Christopher Ainslie started his singing career as a chorister in Cape Town, his home city. In 2005 he moved to London to study at the Royal College of Music, where he graduated with distinction.
Ainslie has rapidly established himself as a leading interpreter of the countertenor repertoire, and is also active in exploring repertoire not usually associated with the voice-type. He has appeared twice at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (Innocent 4 in The Minotaur, the title role in Artaxerxes), at Glyndebourne (Ottone in L’incoronazione di Poppea, Eustazio in Rinaldo), Opera de Lyon (Voice of Apollo in Death in Venice), Drottningholm (Ottone in Poppea), Göttingen Handel Festival (the title role in Tamerlano) and Central City Opera (the title role in Amadigi). Other roles include the title role in Poro, and Alessandro in Tolomeo at the London Handel Festival (LHF), Medoro in Orlando with Independent Opera, Arsace in Partenope at the Les Azuriales Festival, and the title role in Rinaldo in Latvia.
Equally at home on the oratorio and recital stages, Ainslie’s recent performances include a recital at the Wigmore Hall, Bach’s Magnificat and Handel’s Amadigi with the Retrospect Ensemble at the Wigmore Hall, a recital with players from The English Concert, Handel’s Messiah (LHF, Detroit Symphony, and Philadelphia Orchestra), Bach’s Weihnachts-Oratorium (Moscow Conservatory), Blow’s Venus and Adonis (Les Arts Florissants and B’Rock), Purcell’s Ode to St Cecilia and Handel’s Te Deum in D (B’Rock), the title role in Handel’s Solomon (LHF), Belshazzar (Dresden), Saul (St John’s, Smith Square), Judas Maccabeus (Vilnius), Jephtha, Theodora and Samson (Cape Town), Bach’s Matthäus-Passion (LHF), Bach’s Johannes-Passion (Cadogan Hall) and Vivaldi’s Gloria (Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra). Ainslie’s recordings include the title role in Arne’s Artaxerxes, and Zephyrus in Mozart’s Apollo et Hyacinthus, both with Linn Records and Classical Opera.
Studying with Mark Tucker, Ainslie is an exponent of the bel canto style rather than English choral tradition, and his expressive, colourful and dramatic singing continually attracts critical acclaim. In 2011 he won the Gianni Bergamo countertenor competition in Switzerland. In 2008 he was the first countertenor to win the Richard Tauber competition at the Wigmore Hall, and in 2007 he was awarded the Michael Oliver Prize in the LHF Singing Competition.
Engagements this season and beyond include performances of Handel’s Messiah with the Bournemouth and St Louis Symphony Orchestras, the title role in Cavalli’s Eliogabalo with Gotham Chamber Opera, Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Voice of Apollo in Death in Venice for Opera North, a return to the Wigmore Hall in a concert with Classical Opera Company, and performances of music by Handel and Scarlatti with Les Arts Florissants.
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