Michael Chance has established a worldwide reputation as one of the foremost exponents of the male alto voice in all areas of the classical repertoire, and is in equal demand as an opera, concert and recording artist.
“Despite the abundance of younger star countertenors these days, none of them yet match Chance’s intelligent delivery and supreme ability to get inside the English language.” The Guardian, 15 October 2002
His vocal training with Rupert Bruce Lockhart followed an English degree at King’s College, Cambridge where he was also a choral scholar. 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, New York, Lisbon, Oviedo, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and with Covent Garden, Glyndebourne, and English National Opera. His roles include the title roles of Orfeo (Gluck), Giasone, Giustino, and Ascanio in Alba, 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 Munich, where he sang the role of Bertarido in a new production of Handel’s Rodelinda for the Bayerische Staatsoper.
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.
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, Monterverdi’s Orfeo and L’Incoronazione di Poppea and Handel’s Jeptha, Tamerlano and Agrippina. Other conductors he has recorded with include Trevor Pinnock, Frans Brüggen, Ton Koopman and Nicholas McGegan. On his recently released CD for Deutsche Grammophon, “Michael Chance, the Art of Countertenor”, he sings solo alto cantatas by Vivaldi with Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert.
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. He sings regularly with the viol consort Fretwork, and recently toured with them to Japan and the United States.
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.
Recent engagements have included the St. John Passion at the BBC Proms and with Sir Simon Rattle with the City of Birmingham Symphony, the Berlin Philharmonic, and with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. He was Artist in Residence at the Lufthansa Festival in London in the summer of 2001. Forthcoming engagements include the title role in Rinaldo for Opera Australia, Bach St John Passion for Sir Simon Rattle with the Berlin Philharmonic in Salzburg and Berlin, as well as concerts in Britain, Europe and the United States. Michael Chance is a visiting Professor at the Royal College of Music.