Paul Agnew is in continuous demand as an outstanding interpreter of the baroque and pre-classical repertoire. His long association with the world’s leading conductors in the field of early music includes a discography of over one hundred recordings. Born in Glasgow, he was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford before embarking on a career that has taken him throughout the world.
At the forefront of the revival of the French baroque repertoire, Paul Agnew made his critically-acclaimed début singing the title-role in Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie at the Palais Garnier in Paris conducted by William Christie. He has since returned to Opéra National de Paris for new productions of Rameau’s Platée, Les Boréades and Les Indes galantes. He continued to perform the demanding haute-contre roles worldwide including at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and Opernhaus Zürich. In recent seasons he extended his repertoire to include Mozart’s Idomeneo under William Christie; Peter Quint in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw at Opéra National de Bordeaux under Jane Glover and at the Opéra de Rennes; Haydn’s L’anima del filosofo with Kammerorchesterbasel in Vienna and Eisenstadt, Handel’s Jephtha at Det Kongelige Theater, Copenhagen in a new production by Katie Mitchell (conducted by Lars Ulrik Mortensen) and Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites at Opéra de Nice. Agnew made his debut with The Royal Opera, Covent Garden in their production of Acis and Galatea to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Handel’s death.
Following a highly successful conducting debut with Les Arts Florissants in Paris in 2007, William Christie appointed him Joint Musical Director of the orchestra; he has since gone on to lead the orchestra on tour to major venues such as the Wiener Konzerthaus, throughout France, to Salzburg and to China. He made his London debut as conductor with the same ensemble at the Barbican as part of their 30th anniversary celebrations. Paul Agnew succeeded Christophe Rousset as Music Director of the Orchestre Français des Jeunes Baroque in 2009 and he is actively engaged in the training and preparation of the next generation of specialist instrumentalists. Paul Agnew is also the co-director of the academy for young singers, Le Jardin des Voix. He has conducted performances of Messiah for Le Concert d’Astrée and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra as well as Handel’s La Resurrezione at the Atelier of the Opéra national de Paris. He made his opera conducting debut with Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor at the Opéra de Rennes and in 2014, replaced William Christie to conduct the new Robert Carsen production of Rameau’s Platee at the Theatre an der Wien in Vienna, and at the Opera Comique in Paris. His success was unanimously praised by the critics in both houses.
As Joint Musical Director of Les Arts Florissants, he will also continue to present the complete cycle of Monteverdi Madrigals in concert. Spread over nearly 100 concerts, this monumental project will continue into 2015. The first recording to have come from the project, entitled ‘Mantua’ and released on the the Les Arts Florissants label has received high critical acclaim. The Guardian has given 4 stars to the second recording ‘Cremona‘, and Gramophone magazine has selected it for the “Editor’s choice” of its July issue. This CD has been also awarded the “Choc du mois” by the music specialized magazine Classica.
Agnew’s comprehensive discography includes Lamentazione – on which he conducts Les Arts Florissants choir in works by Scarlatti and Caldara for Virgin, The Food of Love - songs by Purcell for Ambroisie, Sally Beamish’s In Dreaming for Virgin Classics and Rameau’s Dardanus for ABC and Dowland songs for Metronome. On DVD his performances include Les Boréades and Les Indes galantes on Opus Arte, Lully’s Armide, the Bach B minor Mass and St Matthew Passion, and his celebrated performance as Platée on TDK.
Recent and forthcoming engagement include : the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra. as well as Music of the Baroque in Chicago, the St Paul’s Chamber Orchestra in Minnesota and The Finnish Radio Chamber Orchestra in Helsinki, North Caroline Symphony with Bach/Handel program and Seattle Symphony conducting Messiah, a scenic production of Rameau’s Indes Galantes at the Staatstheater Nürnberg …