Baritone Ashley Riches landed places in several of Britain's most prominent programs for emerging artists and appeared at major opera houses in Britain and beyond quite early in his career.
Riches was born in 1986 or 1987 and grew up in Scarborough in North Yorkshire, where he attended the Scarborough College secondary school. As a student there, he played the flute and was inspired by his grandfather Charles Riches, a longtime jazz bandleader at Scarborough's Olympia Ballroom. Ashley went on to Winchester College and then to King's College, Cambridge, where he sang in the King's College Choir and took voice lessons. His main field of study was English, however, and he looked toward a career as a lawyer. He had already lined up an entry-level job at a London firm when his singing teacher suggested that he continue his music studies instead. Riches auditioned and was accepted at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He graduated as a finalist for the school's gold medal. Riches served a major apprenticeship at the Royal Opera House in London as a Jette Parker Young Artist from 2012 to 2014, and he snared attention at a gala concert when he sang a duet with tenor Roberto Alagna. Another boost to his career was a designation as a BBC New Generation Artist from 2016 to 2018. Riches has sung with major companies, including the English National Opera (where he played Count Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro), the Opéra Nationale de Lorraine in France, and Moscow's Novaya Opera. He made his debut at the BBC Proms in 2019 with an appearance as Bernardino in Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini. Riches is also active as a concert artist, performing in Handel's Messiah at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, under his former King's College Choir director, Stephen Cleobury, Verdi's Requiem at both Royal Albert Hall and Winchester Cathedral, and Bach's St. Matthew Passion on tour in Europe with the Monteverdi Choir and its director, John Eliot Gardiner, among other works. Riches performed in the British premiere of Shostakovich's unfinished opera Orango under conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen with the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Riches has appeared on various operatic recordings and made his solo debut in 2015 with a world premiere, that of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Shakespeare Sonnets, on the Resonus Classics label. Two years later, he moved to Chandos for a recording of songs by Arthur Sullivan. Riches returned in 2021 with A Musical Zoo, a recital of songs about animals.