Jon Stainsby is a recent graduate of the Alexander Gibson Opera School at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Prior to embarking on full-time vocal studies, he studied English at the University of Cambridge, graduating with distinction, and completed a doctorate in English Literature at the University of Oxford. He now combines these interests in a varied career with the interpretation and performance of words and music at its heart.
Currently based in London, he appears in a wide variety of operatic roles, ranging from the baroque to the contemporary. Recent and forthcoming engagements include the roles of Bottom and Demetrius in a new performing version of Purcell's Fairy Queen for Iford Arts, Ariodate Serse for Longborough Festival Opera’s Young Artists Production, and covering the title role in Le nozze di Figaro for Garsington Opera. Other operatic appearances include the title role of Eugene Onegin, Count Almaviva The Marriage of Figaro for Hampstead Garden Opera, Don Alfonso Così fan tutte for Pavilion Opera, Speaker The Magic Flute for Young Opera Venture, Blansac La scala di seta for Opera Holloway, Duke of Verona Romeo and Juliet for Riverside Opera, Father Hansel and Gretel for HighTime at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, Nick Shadow The Rake’s Progress for Edinburgh Studio Opera, Sid Albert Herring for Hampstead Garden Opera, and Smirnov The Bear for Opera View. At the RCS Opera School, he sang Herr Fluth Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor, Mr Gedge Albert Herring, and Junius The Rape of Lucretia, as well as excerpts from Ping Turandot, Belcore L’elisir d’amore, Dandini La Cenerentola, Faninal Der Rosenkavalier and the title roles of Eugene Onegin and Owen Wingrave. He also took the roles of Father Augustine Betrothal in a Monastery and Demetrius A Midsummer Night’s Dream in co-productions with Scottish Opera, at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow and the Festival and King’s Theatres in Edinburgh. He has been acclaimed in Opera magazine for his ‘outstandingly alert responses to text, music and stage partners,’ and in Opera Now for possessing ‘a voice as commanding as his stature.’
Jon is also establishing himself as an interpreter of twentieth-century and contemporary music. In 2013 he took the baritone role in Claude Vivier’s extraordinary ‘opéra rituel de mort,’ Kopernikus, in a co-production between VOCAALLAB and De Nationale Opera, Amsterdam. He has also created roles in new chamber operas by Samuel Hogarth, Edward Lambert and Tim Benjamin, sang in the solo voice octet for the première production of Wolfgang Mitterer's Marta at the Opéra de Lille, and gave the first performances of music by Cheryl Frances-Hoad for The Hand that Takes, an installation at Cambridge Junction by CJ Mahoney and Georgie Grace. With EXAUDI he has performed works by Cage, Finnissy, Furrer, Scelsi and Sciarrino, and the UK premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s Vigilia with musikFabrik at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. In the 2017-18 season he appears in Tom Philips's intermedia artwork Irma at the South London Gallery.
On the concert platform, Jon has performed much of the standard oratorio repertoire, including Messiah, the Bach Passions, the major oratorios of Haydn and Mendelssohn, Elgar The Dream of Gerontius and the Requiems of Mozart, Fauré, Duruflé and Brahms. He is a regular guest at the Leith Hill Musical Festival; other recent engagements include the Bach St John Passion at Snape Maltings as part of the Aldeburgh Easter Festival, Beethoven Symphony No. 9 at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem at the Alba Festival in Piedmont, and Carissimi Jephte in a semi-staged performance at Trigonale Klagenfurt.
As a recitalist Jon performs a wide repertoire in German, French, English, Russian, Norwegian and Swedish. Particular highlights of his work in this field include a performance of songs by Schubert and Kilpinen with Malcolm Martineau, recitals with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland's Song Studio at the Royal Overseas League and the Scottish Arts Club in Edinburgh, and a recital at Steinway Hall for the Delius Society, following their award to him of the 2012 Delius Prize. He has been a finalist in a number of national and international competitions (International Student Lied Duo Competition, Enschede; AESS and John Kerr English Song Competitions; Concours International de la Mélodie Française, Marmande; Armel Opera Competition), and was selected to perform at Wigmore Hall in the live rounds of the 2013 International Song Competition.
Jon also works with a number of the most esteemed vocal ensembles in the UK and further afield. A former choral exhibitioner at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and lay clerk at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, he was among the first students to complete the Master’s programme in Advanced Vocal Ensemble Studies at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. He now performs with the Academy of Ancient Music, the Balthasar-Neumann-Chor, the BBC Singers, Collegium Vocale Gent, the Choir and Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment, Les Cris de Paris, Dunedin Consort, the Edvard Grieg Kor, English Voices, Ensemble Marsyas, the King's Consort and Philharmonia Voices. This element of his work has included staged productions at the Festival Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence and Bergen Nasjonale Opera. He has performed under the batons of Marin Alsop, David Atherton, Colin Davis, Richard Egarr, Mark Elder, Adam Fischer, Lorin Maazel, Trevor Pinnock and Jeffrey Tate. Engagements as a ‘step-out’ soloist include Messiah with Dunedin Consort at Wigmore Hall and La Folle Journée, and the role of Pilate in Bach St Matthew Passion with AAM at the Barbican.
At the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland he studied with Stephen Robertson and Scott Johnson, with the generous support of the RCS Trust, the Kathleen Trust and the Sammy Johnson Memorial Fund. He was awarded the Ramsay Calder Debussy Prize and the Margaret Dick Award for recital singing. Jon has been a Britten Pears Young Artist three times, studying Purcell with Christian Curnyn, Bach with Mark Padmore, and Schubert with Christian Gerhaher and Gerold Huber. He was also selected to participate in Graham Johnson’s Young Songmakers programme, and with Wolfgang Holzmair at the Elly Ameling Lied Masterclasses at ’s-Hertogenbosch, the latter following his performance in the finals of the International Vocal Competition. Other artists with whom he has appeared in masterclasses include Malcolm Martineau, Roger Vignoles, Thomas Allen, Florian Boesch, Roderick Williams, Håkan Hagegård, and Rudolf Piernay, with whom he also studied privately. He continues his studies with Robert Dean.Biography » Repertoire » Reviews »