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About us 2017-01-11T12:34:16+00:00
EOC

EOC filming for BBC Four (C) Early Opera Company

Early Opera Company

Founded by its music director, Christian Curnyn, Early Opera Company is one of Britain’s leading early music ensembles. It is 22 years since Christian first embarked upon his vision to make performances of baroque opera relevant and indispensable in today’s world.

In recent years he has led the company in a truly varied and inspiring programme, including on BBC Four’s 18th century music series Rule Britannia: Music, Morals and Mischief, intimate In Conversation concerts for Spitalfields Music Summer Festival (with Anna Stéphany, Mhairi Lawson and Iestyn Davies), revealed the glories of the French baroque with Charpentier La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers and a programme of Bernier and Charpentier at Almeida Theatre, performed Monteverdi The Return of Ulysses for Iford Arts, taken Handel Acis and Galatea to Salisbury, Oundle and Kilkenny Festivals, and presented Handel Messiah and Purcell King Arthur at Wigmore Hall, including an abridged version of King Arthur for family and school audiences. Recent adventures include our work with Wigmore Learning on a newly-crafted community opera, Re-imagining King Arthur by Alasdair Nicholson incorporating the stories and music of Purcell King Arthur.

We were honoured to receive an Olivier Award nomination (Outstanding Achievement in Opera) for our work with The Royal Opera in Monteverdi Orfeo at The Roundhouse and Cavalli L’Ormindo at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse during 2014/15. This association has continued this year with 5-star reviews for Rossi Orpheus at Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

Our award-winning Handel opera recordings on Chandos include Serse, Alceste, Partenope, Semele and Flavio, and Handel Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno on Wigmore Live.

Following performances of Rameau Platée and Castor et Pollux, we are delighted to continue our association with St John’s Smith Square. Our London Season 2016 includes an orchestral concert there, along with Handel’s ravishing motet Silete Venti with Sophie Bevan (18 March 2016), Handel La Resurrezione at Wigmore Hall (23 June 2016), Sacred and Profane: Rossi and Monteverdi to celebrate Spitalfields Music’s 40th anniversary festival (8 June 2016) and a return to St John’s Smith Square with an all-star cast for Handel Serse (18 November 2016).

We intend to give several performances of Purcell King Arthur, plus abridged family concerts, throughout the UK during 2016/17 and are fundraising for this, and for our Emerging Singers Programme. If you can support this, or would like to know more, please get in touch.

Join the conversation @earlyopera

Christian Curnyn

Christian Curnyn read music at Guildhall School of Music & Drama and at the University of York. He founded the Early Opera Company in 1994 and the last 21 years have seen notable performances throughout the UK, along with award-winning recordings.

Promoters: please contact us for an up to date biography before printing this version in programmes. 

For English National Opera, Christian has conducted Handel Partenope, After Dido, Katie Mitchell’s realization of Purcell Dido and Aeneas, Rameau Castor and Pollux, Handel Giulio Cesare, Charpentier Medée and Handel Rodelinda.

Other appearances include Purcell Dido and Aeneas in Aldeburgh, Partenope (Opera Australia), Vivaldi Farnace and Handel Ariodante (Salzburg Landestheater), Rameau Platée (Oper Stuttgart), Handel Semele (Scottish Opera), Handel Saul (Opera North), Britten The Beggar’s Opera and Cavalli L’Ormindo (The Royal Opera, Covent Garden), Le nozze di Figaro, Semele and Cavalli’s Eliogabalo (Grange Park Opera), as well as Handel Jephtha (Halle Handel Festival), Partenope and Cosi fan tutte (New York City Opera), Cavalli Giasone and Charpentier Medée (Chicago Opera Theater) and Cavalli La Calisto and Gluck Ezio (Oper Frankfurt).

On the concert platform engagements have included concerts with the English Concert, The Hallé, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra and Ulster Orchestra. Alongside recordings for EOC, Christian has recorded Britten’s realisation of The Beggars Opera with the City of London Sinfonia and a disc of Italian repertoire with Nicola Benedetti for Decca.

Future plans, alongside directing Early Opera Company, include Purcell The Fairy Queen and Handel Alcina (Stuttgart Oper), Rameau Castor et Pollux (Komische Oper Berlin) and concert performances with NFM Wrocław Baroque Orchestra, Collegium Vocale and The English Concert.

Keep up to date with Christian Curnyn at www.christiancurnyn.com and via Twitter @christiancurnyn

 

Early Opera Company players

We are privileged to work with some outstanding players from the UK and beyond. Recently, our team has included:

Catherine Martin (leader), Oliver Webber, Persephone Gibbs, Tuomo Suni, Miki Takehashi, Bojan Cicic, Andrea Jones, Ellen O’Dell, Kinga Ujszaszi, Julia Black, Huw Daniel, Iona Davis, Nia Lewis, Hannah Tibbell
Emilia Benjamin, Liz Maccarthy, Louise Hogan, Emma Alter, Mark Braithwaite, John Crockatt, Stef Heichelheim, Aliye Cornish
Jonathan Byers, John Rees, Joseph Crouch, Andrew Skidmore, Gavin Kibble, Christopher Suckling, Vladimir Waltham
Judith Evans, Kate Aldridge, Carina Cosgrave, Christine Sticher
Elizabeth Kenny, David Miller, Alex McCartney, Eligio Luis Quinteiro
Siobhan Armstrong
Katy Bircher, Georgia Browne, Jane Mitchell
Katharina Spreckelsen, Hannah McLaughlin, Leo Duarte
Sally Jackson, Zoe Shevlin, Rebecca Hammond, Philip Turbett
David Hendry, Tim Hayward

“…the cream of today’s young Handelians. The Early Opera Company has a style all its own, characterized by vibrant, fervently committed execution… this is the band you want to hear in this music.” Music OMH, November 2013

EOC players

Trustees of Early Opera Company

We have an active and involved Board of Trustees who support the work of Early Opera Company in many ways. They are:

Jo was Director of Bristol Zoo Gardens and CEO of its parent charity, The Bristol Zoological Society, where he worked from 2001 to 2010. Previously, he was Director of London Zoo and Zoological Director of the Zoological Society of London for nine years, having been appointed as Curator of Mammals in 1988. He graduated in Zoology from Imperial College, London, in 1973, completed his PhD in 1977, held a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver from 1977-1979, and spent the next nine years conducting research and lecturing on mammalian population ecology and social behaviour at Royal Holloway (London) and Bath Universities.

He was awarded an OBE in 2000. He has Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Kingston (1993) and Bristol (2011). Jo chaired the Conservation Committee of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) from 2002 to 2010, and is currently Chair of the Advisory and Finance Committees of the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) of the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

He has wide experience in running, chairing, and being a trustee of charitable organisations, in finance and risk management, and in fundraising and marketing.

Jo has a long-standing love of baroque music, and Christian helped him organise the music for his 60th birthday party, at which Lucy Crowe and David Bates sang. He joined the EOC Board in 2011, and became Chair in 2013.

Christian read music at Guildhall School of Music & Drama and at the University of York. He founded the Early Opera Company in 1994 and the last 22 years have seen notable performances throughout the UK, along with award-winning recordings.

For English National Opera, Christian has conducted Handel Partenope, After Dido, Katie Mitchell’s realization of Purcell Dido and Aeneas, Rameau Castor and Pollux, Handel Giulio Cesare, Charpentier Medée and Handel Rodelinda.

Other appearances include Purcell Dido and Aeneas in Aldeburgh, Partenope (Opera Australia), Vivaldi Farnace and Handel Ariodante (Salzburg Landestheater), Rameau Platée (Oper Stuttgart), Handel Semele (Scottish Opera), Handel Saul (Opera North), Britten The Beggar’s Opera, Cavalli L’Ormindo (The Royal Opera, Covent Garden), Le nozze di Figaro, Semele and Cavalli’s Eliogabalo (Grange Park Opera), as well as Handel Jephtha (Halle Handel Festival), Partenope and Cosi fan tutte (New York City Opera), Cavalli Giasone and Charpentier Medee (Chicago Opera Theater) and Cavalli La Calisto and Gluck Ezio (Oper Frankfurt).

On the concert platform engagements have included concerts with the English Concert, The Hallé, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra and Ulster Orchestra. Alongside recordings for EOC, Christian has recorded Britten’s realisation of The Beggars Opera with the City of London Sinfonia and a disc of Italian repertoire with Nicola Benedetti for Decca.

Future plans, alongside those for Early Opera Company, include Purcell The Fairy Queen and Handel Alcina (Stuttgart Oper) and Rameau Castor et Pollux (Komische Oper Berlin).

After singing as a chorister at Westminster Cathedral and obtaining a music scholarship to Eton College, Philip studied languages at King’s College London before going on to study as a baritone at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and then at the Royal Academy of Music.

Whilst at the Guildhall, he met Christian Curnyn and performed with him in Charpentier’s La fete du Reuil at the Cheltenham Festival. Other early music highlights include Handel’s Messiah in Dubai, Macheath in The Beggar’s Opera at Handel House Museum and La Serva Padrona in Aldeburgh.

Following his brief singing career, Philip entered the City where he worked for UBS Wealth Management. Looking to stay in touch with the music world, Philip has been on the Board of Early Opera Company since 2012.

Charlie is a Project Manager by profession, running his own company within the construction sector, advising clients on sustainable building and the management of construction projects and building costs.

He says that his musical intelligence (grade 2 Piano) was rescued by Christian whilst they were at York University together; he attended many of Christian’s performances in the University Music Department and at York Early Music Festival. They have stayed in touch ever since, and Charlie became a Trustee of EOC in 2003. He claims that his knowledge of early opera is still sketchy, but his experience and background in Project Management makes him good at defining tasks and getting things done. He also has general experience in the NGO sector and is a trustee of two grant-making organisations.

A barrister by profession, Nicky had a wide and varied career in the Civil Service, moving out of her legal specialism to combine her legal background with a personnel focus. For six and a half years she was Head of Corporate Resources and Services, first in the former Lord Chancellor’s Department, and latterly in the Cabinet Office. During this time she became involved with musical charities as a trustee and voluntary fundraiser.

In 2001 she left the civil service and became a Partner at executive search firm, Odgers Berndtson. Nicky developed the government and arts and heritage practices in the business and has led many of the most senior arts and heritage appointments in the UK and beyond.

Nicky is a lover of baroque music and has been a board member of musical organisations over the past 20 years. She is Chair of the Orchid Music Charitable Trust and a Trustee of the English Concert, Spitalfields Music, Early Opera Company and Tenebrae.

Howard Shields grew up in India and South Africa before becoming a biochemist by training, from Cambridge. He then changed tack and spent his working life in the oil business with Shell, mostly overseas, in the Far East, Holland, Turkey and Italy.

Upon retiring, he joined the EOC board, including 5 years as Chair; his other main voluntary commitment is Chair of the Blackheath Society. He is also a keen choral singer, among his many leisure activities.

As Head of Audience Development for the Natural History Museum, Emily leads the programming of temporary exhibitions, activities and events, digital strategy and marketing. Her role includes the championship of innovation in the Museum’s visitor offer. Emily has recently championed the creation of a new ‘mobile-first’ website for NHM, the launch of location-aware visitor smartphone apps and the realisation of ‘David Attenborough’s First Life’ the first immersive virtual reality experience for a museum audience.

Emily has almost 20 years’ experience in the arts and culture sector. Her career has spanned marketing and communications roles for cultural organisations including the Royal Court Theatre, London Philharmonic Orchestra and National Gallery. Emily joined the Board of Trustees for Early Opera Company in January 2016.

Perform with us?

We do not hold formal auditions for singers or players on a regular basis, but if you are interested in performing with Early Opera Company, please send a CV and link to a recording of relevant repertoire to info@earlyopera.com  Thank you.