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

"Christian Curnyn’s conducting of the Handelfestspielorchester Halle was exemplary."

Sandra Bowdler, Opera Magazine

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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 set out to reinvigorate the Baroque repertoire. Christian and the EOC appear regularly at 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 debut at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw with a double bill of Dido and Aeneas and Blow’s Venus and Adonis in 2018.

Highly regarded for his energetic conducting and creative vision, Christian has conducted Handel’s Saul and Giulio Cesare for Opera North, Die Zauberflöte and Handel’s Amadigi for Garsington Opera, Handel’s Semele for Scottish Opera and Grange Park Opera, for whom he has also conducted Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, and Cavalli’s Eliogabalo. 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 Monteverdi's Il ritorno d'Ulisse at The Roundhouse, 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, which was nominated for an Olivier Award. Most recently he conducted Apollo e Dafne and a concert production of Handel’s Ariodante at the Royal Opera House.

Christian’s work in Europe and beyond includes Partenope with Opera Australia, Vivaldi’s Farnace and Handel’s Ariodante for Landestheater Salzburg, Cavalli’s La Calisto and Gluck’s Ezio for Frankfurt Opera, Castor et Pollux and Zoroastre by Rameau at Komische Oper Berlin, Rameau’s Platée, Purcell’s The Fairy Queen and Handel’s Alcina at Stuttgart Opera, Mozart Idomeneo for Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos and Le nozze di Figaro at Theater Basel. 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 Orchestra (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, SWR Symphonieorchester, 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 of Handel’s Alcina. 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 releasing their recording of Handel’s Amadigi on Chandos Records.

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.


Royal Opera House, Covent Garden / November 2022

[T]he orchestral playing is so deft, guided gently and without fuss by Christian Curnyn, especially enjoyable for its continuo sound with plucked theorbos.

Nicholas Kenyon, The Telegraph

In the pit, Christian Curnyn is an unfailingly stylish conductor.

Rebecca Franks, The Times

Under Christian Curnyn the ROH orchestra was transformed, fizzing and swirling in a buff, buoyant version of period style that wasn’t afraid to flaunt its curves.

Richard Bratby, The Spectator

Christian Curnyn, conducting at a very wide range of paces, from tortoise to hare, is an early music specialist, and this opera is right at home at the Royal Opera House

Claudia Pritchard, Culture Whisper

Christian Curnyn and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House kept things moving and well balanced with the singers.

David Karlin, Bachtrack

Christian Curnyn, more than well-versed in the music of this period, drew fine playing, augmented by a fine continuo section. The instrumental component was often joyously pointed; plus, Curnyn knows how to pace the piece.

Colin Clarke, Seen and Heard International

A Baroque-sized ensemble was selected from the ROH orchestra, with the addition of two theorbists, two harpsichords and a period cello, the latter played exquisitely by Hetty Snell. They all displayed extraordinary sensitivity to the style under the peerless direction of Christian Curnyn, whose well-chosen tempi avoided the senseless jet-propelled delivery that too often mars performances of Handel operas.

Barry Millington, Evening Standard

CD Review: Handel's Amadigi

Early Opera Company / Chandos Records CHSA 0406(2) (CD/SACD)

“Christian Curnyn’s answering restraint reveals the stark solos, shimmering textures, ringing silences and stunning one-to-a-part counterpoint of music that fairly bursts with its composer’s early genius.”

Berta Joncus, BBC Music Magazine (Opera Choice *****)

“An A-list cast and crack period band strike sparks off each other in a thrilling performance of a ‘magic opera’ crammed with ravishing melody and evocative orchestral colours… A Handelian winner.”

Richard Wigmore, Gramophone

Handel's Orlando

Theater Oper Halle / Halle Händel-Festspiele

“…gehoren die grossten Momente der von Christian Curnyn geleiteten Einstudierung mit dem stillsicher auf alten Intrumenten spielenden Opernorchester.”

The greatest moments are conducted by Christian Curnyn with the opera orchestra playing old instruments with a sure sense of style.

Kirsten Liese, Der Tagesspiegel

“Eine kluge, schlüssige Inszenierung, an der auch Meister Händel seine Freude gehabt haben würde, Zumal saine Musik, die das exzellente, sensible wie schwungsvoll musizierende Händel-Festspielorchester unter der Leitung von Christian Curnyn bot…”

A clever, coherent staging that Master Handel must have enjoyed, especially with the music provided by the excellent, sensitive and spirited Handel Festival Orchestra conducted by Christian Curnyn…

Andreas Montag, Mitteldeutsche Zeitung

“Der in Sachen Alte Musik versierte Brite Christian Curnyn dirigiert das Händelfestspielorchester Halle mit der nötigen Verve, ohne je der Versuchung zu erliegen durch überpointierung dramatische Wirkungen erzielen zu wollen.”

The Brit Christian Curnyn, who is well-versed in early music, conducts the Halle Trade Festival Orchestra with the necessary verve, without ever succumbing to the attempt to achieve dramatic effects through overemphasis.

Jürgen Gahre, KN Online

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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