British born Paul Esswood is one of the world's leading countertenors. He has worked
in opera houses throughout Europe and America and was the first countertenor ever
to sing at La Scala, Milan. He took part in the historic Harnoncourt-Ponelle Monteverdi
Cycle at Zurich Opera, which has also been recorded and filmed for television worldwide.
He has appeared at the Salzburg Festival, performing Handel's Jephtha and Saul and
Monteverdi's Orfeo. He has sung Oberon in the Cologne Opera production of Britten's
A Midsummer Night's Dream and title roles in the Karlsruhe Handel Festival production
of Handel's Admeto and the English Bach Festival production of Handel's Riccardo
Primo at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
Several roles have been written for him, including the title role in Philip Glass's
Akhnaten (Stuttgart) and Death in Penderecki's Paradise Lost (Chicago, La Scala Milan
and Stuttgart). Most recently, he sang the role of Seff in Schlafes Bruder by Herbert
Willi in the world première in Zurich, followed by the first Austrian production
As a concert and recital singer, Paul Esswood works in the world's most important
musical centres: London, Edinburgh, Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, Vienna, Amsterdam,
Stockholm, New York, Washington, Los Angeles and in key festivals such as Salzburg,
Graz, Aix-en-Provence, Three Choirs and London Promenade Concerts. His repertoire
is extensive. From the major works by Bach, Handel, Purcell, Monteverdi, Mozart,
Haydn, Schubert and Schumann to contemporary composers, including Schnittke’s FaustCantata (world première in Vienna) and 2nd SymphonySt Florian (world première in
London), and Penderecki’s Magnificat and Paradise Lost.
Paul Esswood has made over 150 recordings, including the Monteverdi Operas and Bach's
St Matthew Passion, Christmas Oratorio, Magnificat, B Minor Mass and the Teldec complete
Cantata project under Harnoncourt/Leonhardt. His 4th recording of Handel's Messiah
was with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Utah, under David Willcocks and under Roger
Norrington he made a video recording of Purcell's 1692 Ode Hail, Bright Cecilia.
He has also recorded the title role of Philip Glass's Akhnaten for CBS. His solo
recordings include Purcell songs, Schumann Dichterliebe and Liederkreis Op.39, Songs
to my Lady (English Lute songs) and Britten's Abraham and Isaac and Folksongs.
As a teacher, he is Professor of baroque vocal interpretation at the Royal Academy
of Music and gives regular masterclasses throughout the world. He is an Honorary
Member of the Royal Academy of Music and was awarded the German Handel prize in 1992.
He regularly performs with the male vocal ensemble Pro Cantione Antiqua, of which
he is a founder member, and the ensemble The Musicke Companye, which recently recorded
a new CD entitled O Bone Jesu. He frequently works with his harpsichordist Helen
Rogers, and the world-renowned lutenist Jürgen Hübscher.
Paul Esswood, utilising his considerable experience in the baroque vocal field, has
now begun a career as a conductor. For the Chichester Festival, England, he conducted
Purcell's The Fairy Queen, King Arthur and Dido and Aeneas, Handel's Messiah and
Bach's B Minor Mass. In Cracow, Poland, he conducted the Capella Cracoviensis in
Purcell's The Fairy Queen and Handel's Israel in Egypt. For Bydgoszcz, also in Poland,
he has conducted Messiah and various programmes of Bach, Handel and Vivaldi; both
Vocal and Instrumental. He also conducted the Opera Pompeo Magno by Cavalli, a world
premiere in modern times, for the Varazdin Baroque Evenings Festival, Croatia. This
project received the Ivan Lukacic prize.
Paul Esswood, relaxing in his garden in West Sussex