Christian Curnyn


"Conductor Christian Curnyn demonstrates complete mastery of Handel’s idiom. The orchestra is superb."

George Hall, The Stage

"Baroque specialist Christian Curnyn elicits eminently stylish playing from the orchestra."

The Reviews Hub

"Christian Curnyn was a superbly stylish guide of his long-established, and now seemingly indispensable, artistic enterprise."

Roy Westbrook, Bachtrack

"Christian Curnyn conducts with his usual infectious enthusiasm."

Rupert Christiansen, The Daily Telegraph

"Curnyn's, in short, is a performance that leaves you savouring every note… and then some!"

Paul Riley, BBC Music Magazine, "the best recording" Feb 2022 edition - Handel Acis and Galatea

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Christian Curnyn is widely recognised as one of the UK’s leading conductors specialising in the Baroque and Classical repertoire. In 1994 Christian founded the Early Opera Company with whom he appears regularly at the Wigmore Hall and St John’s Smith Square for the London Festival of Baroque Music. They have also performed at the BBC Proms as well as at the Cheltenham, Spitalfields, York Early Music and Kilkenny Arts Festivals. The EOC made their Het Concertgebouw debut with a double bill of Dido and Aeneas and Blow’s Venus and Adonis in 2018.

Much in demand on the operatic scene, in the UK Christian has conducted for Scottish Opera (Handel Semele), Opera North (Handel’s Saul and Giulio Cesare), Grange Park Opera (Semele, Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, and Cavalli’s Eliogabalo) and with Garsington Opera (Die Zauberflöte and Handel’s Amadigi). He is a regular at English National Opera where successes have included Olivier Award-winning productions of Handel’s Partenope and Rameau’s Castor et Pollux (dir. Barrie Kosky), After Dido (Katie Mitchell’s realisation of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas), Handel’s Giulio Cesare, Charpentier’s Medée, and Handel's Rodelinda.

For The Royal Opera, Covent Garden he has conducted Britten’s The Beggar’s Opera, Cavalli's L'Ormindo to inaugurate their series at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s The Globe, where he returned for Luigi Rossi’s Orfeo (nominated for an Olivier Award), and Monteverdi's Il ritorno d'Ulisse at The Roundhouse. Most recently he conducted Apollo e Dafne and Ariodante.

Further afield he has worked with Opera Australia (Partenope), Landestheater Salzburg (Vivaldi’s Farnace and Handel’s Ariodante) Frankfurt Opera (Cavalli’s La Calisto and Gluck’s Ezio), Komische Oper Berlin (Rameau’s Castor et Pollux and Zoroastre), Stuttgart Opera (Rameau’s Platée, Purcell’s The Fairy Queen and Handel’s Alcina), Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos (Mozart Idomeneo) and Theatre Basel (Le nozze di Figaro).

In the USA Christian has conducted Partenope and Cosi fan Tutte for New York City Opera, Handel's Tolomeo for Glimmerglass Opera, and Cavalli's Giasone and Charpentier’s Medée for Chicago Opera Theater.

Specialist early music ensembles among Christian’s regular collaborators include Academy of Ancient Music, AKAMUS, English Concert, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and the Irish and Wroclaw Baroque orchestras. Alongside this work he takes a particular interest in performing Baroque and Classical repertoire with modern forces, including collaborations with Bournemouth Symphony, Ulster, Hallé, Scottish Chamber (including a recording on the Decca label with Nicola Benedetti), Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Stavanger Symphony, Ensemble Resonanz and Essen Philharmoniker. He has also conducted a Messiah tour in Australia with the Tasmanian, West Australian and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras.

Recent and forthcoming highlights include concerts with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, BBC NOW, and Komische Oper Berlin, Acis and Galatea with his Early Opera Company for the Buxton Festival, a new production of Handel’s Orlando for Oper Halle which will also celebrate the 100th year of the Halle Festival, Semele with AKAMUS and Opera Collective Ireland and a return to the Royal Opera House Covent Garden for a new production. With the Early Opera Company he will conduct concerts at the Wigmore Hall, Bruges and Amsterdam Concertgebouw and St John Smith Square as well as record their next disc for Chandos records of Handel’s Amadigi.

His extensive discography with the Early Opera Company for the Chandos label includes their 2005 recording of Partenope which won widespread critical acclaim, and their recording of Semele was chosen as a Best Recording of 2008 by The Sunday Times, Editor’s Choice in Gramophone Magazine and awarded the 2008 Stanley Sadie Handel Prize. Further releases include Il Trionfo del Tempo for Wigmore Live, Eccles’ The Judgement of Paris, (awarded a Diapason D’or), Britten’s The Beggar’s Opera, Handel’s Flavio, Alceste (winner of the Opera award in the BBC Music Magazine Awards 2013), Serse, and most recently Acis & Galetea (winner of the Opera category of the 2019 BBC Music Magazine Awards).

This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.

Handel's Acis & Galatea

Early Opera Company, Buxton International Festival (July 2021)

Christian Curnyn is a go-to man for this music and the arias fairly tripped along under his conducting.

Rupert Christiansen, Opera Magazine

Conductor Christian Curnyn demonstrates complete mastery of Handel’s idiom. The orchestra is superb.

George Hall, The Stage

Christian Curnyn leads the Early Opera Company in a measured and solid reading of the score, maintaining an effective pace throughout.

Curtis Rogers, Classical Source

Musically […] the performance, under conductor Christian Curnyn, was practically perfect in every way…

Robert Beale, Theatre Reviews North

Handel's Amadigi

Garsington Opera (June 2021)

Christian Curnyn conducted the English Concert in a performance so true to style and content as to make you marvel once again at Handel’s singular, luminous orchestral sound, with some ravishing woodwind obbligatos.

Peter Reed, Opera Magazine

The glory of the evening lies in the playing of the period-instrument English Concert under Christian Curnyn’s direction. Handel’s music is often ravishingly beautiful, and Curnyn and co manage to colour each aria’s A-B-A structure with ever-changing hues.

Michael Church,

The English Concert under Christian Curnyn made every shade glow as warmly or brilliantly as it should. Stand-out work came not only from the woods but from glittering last-act trumpets that anticipate the festive sound-world of the Water Music.

Boyd Tonkin, The Arts Desk

Christian Curnyn and the English Concert […] blaze with colour whether in the blood-red of military trumpets or the faded pastels of a pair of coaxing recorders. Dance rhythms are carved deep by lower strings, and the pit becomes the bubbling cauldron at the centre of Handel’s musical spell.

Alexandra Coghlan, The Spectator

In the pit, Christian Curnyn brings a gentle quality to Handel’s vivid score, with lively playing from the English Concert.

Rebecca Franks, The Times

Cementing its new partnership with Garsington, The English Concert plays crisply under the conductor Christian Curnyn […] never a dull moment in this music.

John Allison, The Telegraph

Handel's Ariodante

The Royal Opera House Covent Garden (November 2020)

Christian Curnyn, inexhaustible and ubiquitous in this repertory, conducted this terrific cast with plenty of brio and the orchestra played with a fine sense of baroque idiom.

Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph

Christian Curnyn, a Handel specialist, got stylish playing from the reduced ROH orchestra.

Hugh Canning, The Times

The Royal Opera’s streamed concert version came in at 160 minutes with no interval. If the performers felt taxed by such heavenly length they showed no signs of it, nor indeed did the onstage ROH Orchestra under Baroque specialist Christian Curnyn. Neither singers nor musicians were from his regular Early Opera Company stable but they all responded to his direction with collegiate élan, and even the starriest of them melded into the tapestry he wove.

Mark Valencia, Bachtrack

Elation at the miracles star musicians can achieve in an empty theatre; regret at not being there in person – both reactions made watching the Royal Opera’s Ariodante live online a vital and bittersweet experience […] This concert performance, conducted by Christian Curnyn, captured all its flickering moods, which can’t have been easy.

Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian

Long gone are the days when orchestras at London's opera houses fiercely resisted the influence of period instruments, and from the opening notes of the overture, Christian Curnyn drew stylish results from his players. Speeds were generally on the faster side, this was a performance which really flowed, and playing was crisp.

Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill

Christian Curnyn summoned an immediacy and directness that made an ‘in the theatre’ vibe tangible. […] With the smallish band of musicians from the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House placed on the reduced-sized wood-panelled stage, the instrumental sound was finely etched and vivid. Curnyn’s tempos were fairly swift but never rushed, and the fluency with which he moved between meters and movements created an engaging drama. The players communicated the opera’s frequent and striking changes of emotional tenor, textures and colours seemed endlessly varied, and in the recitatives there many beautifully expressive nuances. This was a truly lovely performance.

Claire Seymour, Opera Today

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