Richard Farnes is one of the most sought after conductors of his generation. Since 2004 he has been Music Director of Opera North for whom he has conducted highly praised productions of La fanciulla del West, Death in Venice,Otello, La traviata, Giovanna d’Arco, Falstaff, Macbeth, Don Carlos, Peter Grimes, Gloriana, The Turn of Screw, Albert Herring, Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, The Secret Marriage, La boheme, Manon, La Rondine, Werther, Eugene Onegin, The Queen of Spades, Katya Kabanova, and From the House of the Dead, as well as premiere productions of David Sawer’s Skin Deep and Simon Holt’s The Nightingale’s to Blame. He has also made recordings with Opera North of bothDuke Bluebeard’s Castle and Don Carlos for Chandos Records. He won the award for ‘Achievement in Opera’ at the 2014 UK Theatre Awards, run by industry body UK Theatre.
In 2011, after highly successful concert performances of Elektra, Salome, Hansel and Gretel, and Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, Richard Farnes and Opera North started an ambitious project to perform Wagner’s “Ring” in concert. The performances ofDas Rheingold (2011) and Die Walküre (2012) in Leeds Town Hall, and on tour to The Sage Gateshead, Symphony Hall Birmingham, and the Lowry Theatre in Salford were enthusiastically received by both public and the press alike. The Ring project continued with Siegfried in summer 2013 and culminated withGötterdämmerung in June 2014. Complete Ring cycles will take place throughout 2016 in Leeds, Salford, Nottingham, Gateshead and London. Most recently for Opera North he conducted critically-acclaimed concert performances of Wagner’sThe Flying Dutchman in various UK venues.
Outside his commitments for Opera North he has also had a close association with Scottish Opera, conducting La boheme, Tosca, The Magic Flute, L’elisir d’amore,David Horne’s Friend of the People, and a double bill of works by Param Vir. For Glyndebourne he has conducted The Makropoulos Case, Peter Hall’s production of Otello, Jonathan Dove’s Flight at the summer festival, and Albert Herring, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, La bohème and Le Nozze di Figaro on tour. Other opera engagements have included Simone Boccanegra at the Royal Opera House, The Cunning Little Vixen For English National Opera, Nabucco for New Israeli Opera, Tel Aviv, Falstaff, La Bohème and The Barber of Seville for English Touring Opera, Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona and Verdi’s Macbeth for Graham Vick’s Birmingham Opera Company, The Cunning Little Vixen and The Rake’s Progress for Opera Theatre Company in Dublin, and Mozart’s Bastien und Bastienne for European Chamber Opera.
In April 2013 Richard conducted two concert performances of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Centre in London, replacing the late Sir Colin Davis. Concert engagements have included the BBC Philharmonic the BBC Scottish Symphony, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Russian National Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony, and the Royal Northern Sinfonia. Future plans include concerts with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and the Cambridge University Music Society.
Richard Farnes read Music at King’s College, Cambridge, where he was organ scholar, and went on to study at the National Opera Studio, Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall School of Music, where he conducted the first British production of Rossini’s Journey to Reims. At the Royal Academy he won both the Henry Wood and Philharmonia Chorus conducting scholarships, and was awarded a European Community Youth Orchestra Scholarship in 1988 for his contribution to the orchestra as its keyboard player. On completion of his studies he gained valuable experience working on the music staff of the Glyndebourne Festival, Scottish Opera and Opera Factory and won the 1990 British Reserve Insurance Competition for Young Conductors.
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