Michael Chance (British countertenor)

~ Person


Michael Chance CBE (born in Penn, Buckinghamshire, 7 March 1955) is an English countertenor and the founder and Artistic Director of The Grange Festival.

Chance was born in Penn, Buckinghamshire, into a musical family. After growing up as a chorister at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, attending the St George's School, he went on to Eton and later King's College, Cambridge.

His first operatic appearance was in the Buxton Festival in Ronald Eyre's staging of Cavalli's Giasone which was followed by appearances in Lyon, Cologne, and three seasons with Kent Opera. Subsequently, he has performed in the Sydney Opera House, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, La Scala Milan, Florence, New York, Lisbon, Oviedo, Leipzig, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and with Covent Garden, Glyndebourne, and English National Opera.

His roles include the title roles of Orfeo (Gluck), Giasone, Giustino, Rinaldo and Ascanio in Alba, Solomon, Ottone / L’incoronazione di Poppea, Athamas / Semele, Andronico / Tamerlano, Oberon / A Midsummer Night's Dream, Tolomeo / Giulio Cesare and Apollo / Death in Venice. He has had roles written specially for him by Sir Harrison Birtwistle (Orpheus / The Second Mrs Kong) and Judith Weir (A Military Governor / A night at the Chinese Opera). Recent festival appearances include Edinburgh, Aix-en-Provence, BBC Proms in London, Salzburg and Bertarido in a new production of Handel's Rodelinda for the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich.

His appearances in oratorio and recital have taken him to concert halls all over the world including Carnegie Hall, Concertgebouw, Musikverein, Neue Gewandhaus and Berlin's Philharmonie. He has given recitals in Frankfurt, Vienna, Amsterdam, Israel, New York and London's Wigmore Hall with a variety of programmes, ranging from Elizabethan lute songs to new works commissioned for him. He sings regularly with the viol consort Fretwork and has toured with them to Japan and the United States.

Michael Chance's list of recordings is numerous and widespread. He received a Grammy award for his participation in Handel's Semele for Deutsche Grammophon with John Nelson and Kathleen Battle. He has recorded frequently with John Eliot Gardiner, including the Bach Passions and Cantatas, B Minor Mass, Monteverdi's Orfeo and L'Incoronazione di Poppea and Handel's Jephtha, Tamerlano and Agrippina. Other conductors he has recorded with include Trevor Pinnock, Frans Brüggen, Ton Koopman and Nicholas McGegan. On his CD for Deutsche Grammophon, “Michael Chance, the Art of Counter-tenor”, he sings solo alto cantatas by Vivaldi with Trevor Pinnock and The English Concert.

He took part in the project of Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir to record the complete vocal works of Johann Sebastian Bach.

His belief in extending the counter-tenor repertoire has prompted new work to be composed for him by Richard Rodney Bennett, Alexander Goehr, Tan Dun, Anthony Powers, John Tavener, and Elvis Costello - amongst others.

His television appearances include A Night at the Chinese Opera, Death in Venice, The Fairy Queen, the three Monteverdi operas with Netherlands Opera, Poppea with Welsh National Opera, Messiah in Dublin with Sir Neville Marriner, and in the Autumn 1999 he was featured by the South Bank Show.

He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours.

It was announced in October 2015 that Michael Chance would become the first Artistic Director of The Grange Festival, a new opera company established to continue performances at The Grange theatre in Hampshire. Opening in June 2017 with operas by Monteverdi, Mozart, Bizet and Britten, The Grange Festival is one of the few opera companies in the world to be led by an internationally renowned opera singer.

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1988Countertenor DuetsPurcell, Blow; James Bowman, Michael Chance, The King’s Consort, Robert King2
1988Stabat Mater / Salve Regina / In coelestibus regnisPergolesi; Gillian Fisher, Michael Chance, The King’s Consort, Robert King2
1988CantatesBuxtehude; Schlick, Frimmer, Chance, Jacobs, Pregardien, Kooy, Hannover Knabenchor, The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, Ton Koopman1
1988MessiahGeorge Frideric Handel; Arleen Auger, Anne Sofie von Otter, Michael Chance, Howard Crook, John Tomlinson, The English Concert Choir, Trevor Pinnock52
1989Bach, J.S.: St. Matthew Passion - Arias & ChorusesJohann Sebastian Bach, Barbara Bonney, Ann Monoyios, Anne Sofie von Otter, Michael Chance, Howard Crook, Olaf Bär, Cornelius Hauptmann, London Oratory Junior Choir, Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, Sir John Eliot Gardiner1
1989JephthaHändel; Nigel Robson, Lynne Dawson, Anne Sofie von Otter, Michael Chance, Stephen Varcoe, Ruth Holton, English Baroque Soloists, Monteverdi Choir, John Eliot Gardiner1
1989La Pasión según San MateoJohann Sebastian Bach: Barbara Bonney, Ann Monois, Anne Sofie von Otter, Michael Chance, Howard Crook, Cornelius Hauptmann, English Baroque Soloists, Sir John Eliot Gardiner1
1990Carmina BuranaOrff; Barbara Hendricks, Jeffrey Black, Michael Chance, The Choristers of the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St. Alban, London Philharmonic Chorus, The London Philharmonic, Franz Welser‐Möst2
1991LamentationsZelenka; Michael Chance, Michael George, John Mark Ainsley, Chandos Baroque Players2
1991Vivaldi: Gloria / Ostro picta / Bach: MagnificatVivaldi, Bach; Collegium Musicum 90, Emma Kirkby, Michael Chance, Stephen Varcoe, Tessa Bonner, John Mark Ainsley, Richard Hickox1
1991Leçons de TénèbresFrançois Couperin;James Bowman,Michael Chance,Mark Caudle,Robert King1
1992The Five CanticlesBenjamin Britten; Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Michael Chance, Alan Opie, Roger Vignoles, Sioned Williams, Michael Thompson1
1992Orfeo ed EuridiceGluck; Nancy Argenta, Michael Chance, Kammerchor Stuttgart, Tafelmusik, Jeanne Lamon, Frieder Bernius1
1993SemeleGeorge Frideric Handel; Kathleen Battle, Marilyn Horne, Samuel Ramey, John Aler, Sylvia McNair, Michael Chance, John Nelson1
1994Dido & AeneasHenry Purcell; Bott, Kirkby, Ainsley, Thomas, Chance, Baird, Priday, Stowe, Lochmann, Chorus and Orchestra of The Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood34
1994Purcell: Dioclesian Suite; Handel: Concerto grosso OP. 6 No. 6 / Il duello amorosoPurcell, Handel; Argenta, Chance, Freiburger Barockorchester, Gottfried von der Goltz1
1995Music for Queen MaryHenry Purcell; Kirkby, Chance, Neary, Westminster Abbey Choir, New London Consort2
1995Ascanio in AlbaMozart; Michael Chance, Jill Feldman, Lorna Windsor, Rosa Mannion, Howard Milner, Chœur de l’Université Paris-Sorbonne, Concerto Armonico, Jacques Grimbert1
1995The Fairy QueenPurcell; Bonney, Von Magnus, McNair, Chance, Dale, Holl, Michaels-Moore, Arnold Schoenberg Chor, Concentus Musicus Wien, Harnoncourt1
1997Nisi DominusAntonio Vivaldi; Michael Chance, The English Concert & Trevor Pinnock1
1997Requiem / Maurerische TrauermusikWolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Diana Montague, Michael Chance, Christoph Prégardien, Franz-Josef Selig, Kölner Kammerchor, Collegium Cartusianum, Peter Neumann, Sir Roger Norrington1
1998Agrippina: HighlightsGeorg Friedrich Händel; Jones, Miles, Ragin, Chance, Brown, English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner1
2000Lutheran Masses, Volume 2J. S. Bach; The Purcell Quartet, Nancy Argenta, Michael Chance, Mark Padmore, Peter Harvey1
2000GiasoneFrancesco Cavalli; Michael Chance, Gloria Banditelli, Catherine Dubosc, Concerto Vocale, René Jacobs2
2000Israel in EgyptGeorg Friedrich Händel; Ian Bostridge, Michael Chance, Susan Gritton, Stephen Varcoe, Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, The Brandenburg Consort, Stephen Cleobury1
2002The Hidden FaceJohn Tavener; Fretwork, Michael Chance1
2005Early Cantatas, Volume 1Johann Sebastian Bach; Emma Kirkby, Michael Chance, Charles Daniels, Peter Harvey, The Purcell Quartet1
2005Death in Venice (2004 studio cast)Benjamin Britten; Philip Langridge, Alan Opie, Michael Chance, BBC Singers, City of London Sinfonia, Richard Hickox1
2005Sacred Cantatas, Volume 2Buxtehude; Emma Kirkby, Michael Chance, Charles Daniels, Peter Harvey, The Purcell Quartet1
2006ChansonsAlexander Agricola; Fretwork, Michael Chance1
2006Funeral Music For Queen Mary / Sacred Music / Dioclesian / SongsChoir of Clare College, Cambridge with Michael Chance1
2006Stabat Mater / Salve ReginaPergolesi; Jörg Waschinski, Michael Chance, Cologne Chamber Orchestra, Helmut Müller-Brühl1
2007Early Cantatas, Volume 2: Weimar CantatasJohann Sebastian Bach; Emma Kirkby, Michael Chance, Charles Daniels, Peter Harvey, The Purcell Quartet1
2007AgrippinaGeorge Frideric Handel; Della Jones, Alastair Miles, Derek Lee Ragin, Michael Chance, Donna Brown, English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner1
2008Early Cantatas, Volume 3: Weimar IIJohann Sebastian Bach; Emma Kirkby, Michael Chance, Charles Daniels, Peter Harvey, The Purcell Quartet1
2010Membra Jesu nostriBuxtehude; The Purcell Quartet, Emma Kirkby, Elin Manahan Thomas, Michael Chance, Charles Daniels, Peter Harvey, Fretwork2
2011Gloria / Nisi Dominus / Stabat Mater / Salve Regina SinfoniaAntonio Vivaldi; Michael Chance, The English Concert, Trevor Pinnock1
2021Proud Songsters: English Solo SongMichael Chance, Tim Mead, Lawrence Zazzo, Ruairi Bowen, James Gilchrist, Andrew Staples, Gerald Finley, Ashley Riches, Mark Stone, Simon Lepper1

Album + Compilation

1999The Art of Counter TenorMichael Chance1

Album + Live

1991TamerlanoHändel; Nancy Argenta, Jane Findlay, Derek Ragin, Michael Chance, Nigel Robson, René Schirrer, English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner1

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