Michael Chance

Michael Chance

Countertenor

• Born 1955

Biography

Michael Chance is one of the world's leading countertenors, in demand worldwide for appearances in opera, on the recital stage, and in chamber music performances. Chance is the artistic director of the Grange Festival, where he is one of the few singers to lead a major opera company.

Chance was born in Penn, in England's Buckinghamshire region, on March 7, 1955. As a child, he was a chorister at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, and he attended the local St. George's school and the Eaton College boarding school. Chance went on to King's College, Cambridge, where he sang in the Choir of King's College and was a choral scholar, having his studies supported in exchange for singing daily services at the college chapel and pursuing musical training as well as studies in English literature. After graduating, he studied voice with Rupert Bruce Lockhart. Chance made his debut at the Buxton Festival in 1983 in a production of Cavalli's Giasone. For three seasons, he was a member of the Kent Opera Company. In 1985, he made his European debut in Lyon, France, in a production of Handel's Tamerlano. At the time, the use of countertenors in Baroque opera was just coming into vogue, and Chance's reputation spread rapidly. He has appeared at many of the world's major opera houses, including Covent Garden in London, La Scala in Milan, and several major opera houses in the Western hemisphere. In addition to major Baroque operas, Chance has championed 20th century and contemporary opera, taking roles in several operas of Benjamin Britten and stimulating the creation of new works by such composers as Richard Rodney Bennett, John Tavener, and even Elvis Costello. Chance has often performed as a chamber music recitalist. In 2015, he became the artistic director of the new opera company The Grange Festival in Hampshire, becoming one of the few internationally famous singers and perhaps the only countertenor to head a major opera company.

Chance has a large catalog of recordings that began in 1988 with an album of duets by Purcell and Blow that he performed with legendary countertenor James Bowman. He has recorded for Hyperion, Chandos, and Harmonia Mundi, among other labels, with a repertory ranging from lute songs to contemporary opera. In 2021, Chance was heard on the album Proud Songsters: English Solo Song, released on the King's College Choir label.

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