Christopher Purves was born in 1958 and was a choral scholar at King’s College Cambridge (where he read English) and was a member of the 1980s experimental rock band Harvey and the Wallbangers before pursuing a career as a classical singer. A hugely versatile singer and a charismatic actor, his repertoire includes Berg’s Wozzeck, Verdi’s Falstaff, Wagner’s Beckmesser, and Debussy’s Golaud, though he is especially acclaimed in Handel: his *Finest Arias for Base Voice* (released on Hyperion in 2012) was a finalist at both the Grampohone and BBC Music Mgaazine Awards, his his portrayal of the title-role in Barrie Kosky’s groundbreaking production of Handel’s Saul at Glyndebourne in 2015 (available on DVD and Blu-ray) was praised as ‘grippingly emotional’ (Financial Times) and ‘an extraordinary piece of singing-acting that makes madness poignantly human’ (The Arts Desk).
Purves created the roles of The General in James MacMillan’s The Sacrifice (2010), The Executioner in his Inés de Castro (1996), and The Protector in George Benjamin’s Written on Skin (2012); he sings the latter role on the Nimbus recording of the opera from Aix (‘Purves expresses a brooding pride and menace that makes your skin crawl’ (BBC Music Magazine) and in the 2013 Royal Opera House production, available on DVD and Blu-ray).
Further Reading: Christopher Purves
The British bass-baritone talks to Katherine about the second volume of 'Finest Arias for Base Voice', out now on Hyperion.