"A Rockstar of Baroque Opera" wrote Antony Tommasini in the New York Times, South African countertenor Christopher Ainslie has rapidly established himself as a leading interpreter of the countertenor repertoire.
Christopher’s current and future engagements include: the title role of Gluck's Orfeo for Seattle Opera; Oberon in a new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Malmö Opera; St Matthew Passion with the Netherlands Bach Society and at the Oregon Bach Festival with Les Passions de l’Ame in Bern he will perform Handel's Il trionfo del tempo e disinganno.
Recent highlights on the operatic stage include Christopher’s debuts at the Semperoper Dresden as Prince Go-Go in a new production of Le Grand Macabre directed by Calixto Bieito and conducted by Omer Meir Wellber; at the Théâtre du Châtelet as David in Handel’s Saul directed by Barrie Kosky and at the Teatro Real, Madrid as Unulfo in a new production of Rodelinda directed by Claus Guth; he has also appeared as Ottone Agrippina for the Göttingen Handel Festival and the Grange Festival; as Oberon A Midsummer Night’s Dream for English National Opera directed by Robert Carsen and as Orfeo in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice for the Opéra national de Lorraine; Opéra de Massy and Opéra de Lyon.
Christopher made his debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Innocent 4 in the World Premiere of Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s The Minatour conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano and he returned for the title role of Arne’s Artaxerxes; elsewhere he has appeared at Glyndebourne as Ottone L’incoronazione di Poppea, David Saul and Eustazio Rinaldo; at Central City Opera, Colorado in the title role of Handel’s Amadigi (also Wigmore Hall); at Opéra de Lyon as the Voice of Apollo Death in Venice and as Unulfo Rodelinda; with English Touring Opera in the title role of Giulio Cesare; at the Göttingen Handel Festival in title role of Tamerlano; for English National Opera as Unulfo Rodelinda directed by Richard Jones, as Helicon Caligula, and as the Messenger/Theseus in the World Premiere of The Thebans directed by Pierre Audi and at the Bregenz Festival as Antonio in the World Premiere of The Merchant of Venice directed by Keith Warner.
Equally at home on the concert platform, highlights include Bach's Weihnachtsoratorium in Moscow with Vladimir Jurowski and with Les Musiciens du Louvre and Marc Minkowski; St Matthew Passion at the London Handel Festival, where he has also sung the title roles in Handel’s Solomon and Hercules and David Belshazzar with Les Arts Florissants and William Christie; Judas Maccabeaus in Vilnius, various works with B’Rock; Bach's St John Passion and Vivaldi’s Gloria with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra; Bach’s B Minor Mass with at the Oregon Bach Festival, where he also sang Bach’s Magnificat and the World Premiere of James MacMillan’s A European Requiem. Christopher has performed Handel’s Messiah with leading orchestras around the world including the Philadelphia Orchestra; the National Symphony Orchestra in the Kennedy Centre; at the Wigmore Hall and with the Ulster 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.
Biography not for publication, for an up to date version please contact Oliver Clarke.
"…a terrific cast, headed by the impressive, sexy countertenor Christopher Ainslie. Now on his way to becoming a rock star of Baroque opera, Mr. Ainslie excels as the cross-dressing emperor and carries himself like Jonathan Rhys Meyers’s pop idol character in Velvet Goldmine."
Anthony Tommasini, New York Times
"Christopher Ainslie was spellbinding in his narration – a Messenger who made you really listen to the message – and his countertenor seems to be growing in its powers of projection."
John Allison, OPERA
"Christopher Ainslie’s portrayal of Ottone was stunning, his lean, even countertenor seemingly having gained in power and nobility."
Peter Reed, Opera Magazine
"Asides from his ability to empathise using his voice, Christopher Ainslie shows off his sex appeal – whether he is dressed in flattering luxury garments or completely topless."
"Christopher Ainslie enjoys in David a certain physical and vocal aura… his economy of gesture allows him to maintain a particular magnetism."
Guillame Saintagne, Forum Opera
"Prince Go-Go, is agile and vocally impressive, performed by Christopher Ainslie."
Björn Kühnicke, Musik in Dresden
"Christopher Ainslie’s countertenor is beautiful … he presented the conflicted hero with style."
Melanie Eskenazi, MusicOMH
"The countertenor Christopher Ainslie played the role of Unulfo with a convincing and appropriate stage game for the character. In addition to this, he showed a great vocal clarity, especially in its agility, interpreted with great versatility."
Maia Steinberg, Sinfónica
"Christopher Ainslie clearly showed his sublime technique”
Maurice Wood, De Limburger
"Christopher Ainslie’s Oberon emerged as the defining vocal role that it is."
Martin Kettle, The Guardian
"Christopher Ainslie’s mellow countertenor and pensive demeanour are reminiscent of Alfred Deller, Britten’s original Oberon. ”
Richard Morrison, The Times
"The pinnacle of the piece came in Christopher Ainslie’s aria ‘Schlafe, mein Liebster’ which he sang with clarity”
Axel Zibulski, Offenbach Post
"Ainslie, on tremendous form, spins out Handel’s lines with exceptional beauty, and his coloratura is immaculate and thrilling”
Tim Ashley, The Guardian
"Christopher Ainslie made a poised Giulio Cesare, very much in control, the ideal enlightenment ruler… Ainslie's account of the great arias, such as 'Va tacito' gave us much to enjoy … at the opening of Act Three, Ainslie gave us a lovely messa di voce!"
Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill
"As the young warrior David, Christopher Ainslie was a compelling presence – a still centre of elegance and grace – and his principal arias were taken with great musicianship."
Roger Parker, OPERA
"Meaty and powerful in the initial expression of loss, the countertenor also displayed a softness during the intimate moments, such as his emotional plea to the Furies, which was of a crystalline delicacy."
Laurent Bergnach, Anaclase – La musique au jour le jour
"As well as having the opera’s most poignant arias, Christopher Ainslie as Ottone gets to spend a lot of time shirtless. Quite when anybody who clearly spends so many hours in fitness studios has time for vocal practice is a mystery, but Ainslie has clearly not neglected the latter."
Shirley Apthorpe, Financial Times