Richard Farnes Conductor

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 both Duke Bluebeard’s Castle and Don Carlos for Chandos Records.

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 of Das 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 with Götterdämmerung in June 2014. Complete Ring cycles are scheduled for 2016.  Future plans with opera North include Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman in 2015.

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 for the 13/14 season included engagements with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.  Future plans include concerts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Russian National Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Northern Sinfonia.  He also conducts his annual concert series with the Orchestra of Opera North in addition to past performances with the likes of London Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata, the Royal Opera House Orchestra in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

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 RoyalAcademy 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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Otello, Opera North January 2013

“This is Opera North back on top form, with the conductor undoubtedly the star of the show: how long before Richard Farnes is recognised as a national treasure?” Rupert Christiansen, The Daily Telegraph, January 2013
Otello, Opera North January 2013

“What gives the show a touch of international class is Richard Farnes’ conducting – a classic Verdian combination of tender lyricism and dramatic largesse.” Andrew Clark, The Financial Times, January 2013
Otello, Opera North January 2013

“Orchestrally, it is fabulous: Richard Farnes's conducting, at once detailed and visceral, is outstanding.” Tim Ashley, The Guardian, January 2013
The Makropulous Case, Opera North August 2012

“From, the fierce, throbbing start to the sparing final pages, and with a vitality that never drowns his singers, the conductor Richard Farnes gives us one of the great musical accounts of Janacek’s penultimate opera.” John Allison, The Sunday Telegraph, August 2012
The Makropulous Case, Opera North August 2012

“…the evening’s star is Richard Farnes, who conducts his orchestra with a finely judged sense of the work’s febrile modernist edge and urban restlessness: under his electrifying baton, the music reaches a white heat of intensity without blasting the singers or losing the plot.” Rupert Christiansen, The Daily Telegraph, August 2012
Die Walküre, Opera North June 2012

“Less can be more when it comes to Wagner, and Opera North's “austerity Ring” – now on its second instalment in its second year – continues to enthral and amaze. First and foremost this is because its musical standards remain consistently high… Richard Farnes's conducting, meanwhile, is sensational in its sweep, detail and understanding.” Tim Ashley, The Guardian, June 2012
Die Walküre, Opera North June 2012

“Nor does the conductor Richard Farnes have much to fear from big-name comparisons. With his orchestra playing incandescently (some momentary brass wobbles aside), he proved himself a born Wagnerian, with a natural sense of the score’s pulse and flow as well as its architecture. No crashing about, no over-inflated rhetoric: Farnes held a clear, taut musical line and never let the fortissimi go to his head.” Rupert Christiansen, The Daily Telegraph, June 2012
Das Rheingold, Opera North June 2011

“The chief medium of this alchemy was the conductor Richard Farnes, relatively new to this repertory, but already a master of its narrative ebb and flow…” Rupert Christiansen, The Daily Telegraph, June 2011
Das Rheingold, Opera North June 2011

“Farnes has done many fine things at Opera North, but his pacing of this 150-minute sweep of music, his care about balance (not a single vocal line is overwhelmed) and the sumptuousness of the orchestral textures – all this constitutes a massive achievement.” Richard Morrison, The Times, June 2011

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