Tenor

John Mark Ainsley

Introduction

John Mark Ainsley has appeared with the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors, including the London, Chicago, Boston and San Francisco Symphony orchestras and the London, Berlin, Vienna and New York Philharmonic orchestras, with Davis, Haitink, Mackerras, Charles Dutoit, Masur, Norrington, Rattle and Abbado. He has performed on stage with the Glyndebourne Festival, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, English National Opera, Theater an der Wien, Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, Teatro all Scala Milan, Oper Frankfurt and Bayerische Staatsoper, with the Salzburg and Aix-en-Provence and Edinburgh festivals, and the BBC Proms. He has recorded extensively for the major labels and was nominated for a Gramophone Award. He won the Royal Philharmonic Society Singer Award, and is a Visiting Professor at the Royal Academy of Music.

In 2016 John Mark was diagnosed with Leukaemia. Fortunately this was an early diagnosis and with ongoing treatment the prognosis for his general health is very good. However, he has decided that it is time to retire from public performance. It is still very much his intention to remain involved with singing and performing through teaching, adjudication and master classes.


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From The Green Room

Discography

  • 06 May 14 HAYDN 'The Creation' Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
    Royal Festival Hall, London
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    “There was an excellent trio of solo singers…tenor John Mark Ainsley was understated but elegant.”
    Erica Jeal, The Guardian

  • 13 Apr 14 HANDEL 'Tamerlano'
    Parnassus, Naïve
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    “John Mark Ainsley’s commanding Bajazet is the great performance here”
    Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times

    “John Mark Ainsley is anguished as the volatile monarch.”
    Nicholas Kenyon, The Observer

    “John Mark Ainsley, superb as Bajazet”
    Claudia Prtichard, The Independent

    “John Mark Ainsley’s noble, harrowing Bajazet has rarely been bettered.”
    Tim Ashley, The Guardian

    “what stands out is its leading tenor role, unusual for an opera seria … the stylishness of John Mark Ainsley”
    Financial Times, 24th May 2014

    “Tenor, John Mark Ainsley suffering nobly as he’s tormented towards suicide. Bajazet is the number one role here, expanded by Handel for a visiting star tenor, and Ainsley is magnificent, charting the ruler’s mood swings as he heads towards an unusual on-stage death.”
    Andrew McGregor, BBC Radio 3 In Tune, 24th May 2014

    “Ainsley is an experienced Handelian, certainly, but he still sounds vigorous and up for a fight in Bajazat’s opening aria, ‘Forte, e lieto’ and he is commanding throughout as he builds up to his climactic suicide, in which he is as moving as any other exponent of the role I have heard. His voice, still fresh-sounding, is more mellifluous than either Young’s or Robson’s… and he delivers the text…with incisiveness and forcefulness that hits you in the solar plexus when he rounds on his captor, his daughter and her lover in his incandescent rage. This is the finest thing the British tenor has done on disc.”
    Hugh Canning, International Record Review

    “John Mark Ainsley makes a heroic Bajazet, deeply moving in the broken phrases of his death scene.”
    Richard Lawrance, Gramophone, August 2014

  • 28 Feb 14 HANDEL 'Rodelinda'
    English National Opera
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    “…superb musical quality. Rebecca Evans and Iestyn Davies are just about perfection as Rodelinda and Bertarido, and there’s a performance of terrific personality and authority by John Mark Ainsley as the loopy Grimoaldo.”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph

    “John Mark Ainsley sings that role with the refined grace we expect of him”
    Michael Church, The Independent

    “Grimoaldo, as he evolves in wisdom, is sung with huge intelligence and immaculate style by John Mark Ainsley.”
    Hilary Finch, The Times

    “…his singing was eloquent and sure, and his portrayal of Grimoaldo as an oily thug was consummately done.”
    Erica Jeal, Opera

    “John Mark Ainsley gave his most intriguing impersonation ever as the usurper Grimoaldo … this was a wonderfully funny, desperately maniacal characterisation, deploying all the colour and brilliance of which this singer is capable, together with the best acting I have ever seen from him.”
    Tom Sutcliffe, Opera Now

  • 01 Feb 14 'The Complete Songs of Poulenc' Vol.4
    Signum
    More info  

    “To the tenor John Mark Ainsley falls the five Eluard settings, which he interprets tellingly with a mix of mesmerising restraint and fierce projection in the opening song, ‘Peut-il se reposer celui qui dort’, and throughout finds the nub of the diverse sentiments that the set conveys.”
    Geoffrey Norris, Gramophone

  • 28 Sep 13 MONTEVERDI 'Orfeo'
    Barbican Hall, London
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    “…this prince of English tenors … singing with robust vocal health a role in which he has long been peerless.

    When I interviewed him in 2008, Ainsley told me he thought he had done everything he could with Monteverdi’s Orfeo and wouldn’t be undertaking it again. How delighted I am that he has recanted, because this performance by the Academy of Ancient Music showed that he has enriched and deepened his interpretation further, both in his rendering of the music’s rhythmic subtleties and his perception of the character’s tragic journey.
    Without resorting to any extraneous histrionics or exaggerated portamento, he makes the lines almost shockingly modern and vivid: this Orfeo is not a figure sculpted from classical marble, but a desperate everyman, anxious, remorseful and bereft, for whom love is ultimately more important than art. I found his breakdown in the final scenes painfully moving.”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph

    “Ainsley has the role under his skin, and delivered a performance of angry pathos. His dark tenor has an almost baritone-like depth and heft, a fine foil … In Ainsley’s great centre piece aria ‘Possente spirito’ his ornate melismas were seductively controlled; in the next he gave way to broken sprechstimme. The role has never felt so raw and contemporary.”
    Helen Wallace, Financial Times

    “And with John Mark Ainsley bringing consummate artistry and exceptional beauty of tone to the title role, this “Orfeo” rent the heart.”
    Michael Church, The Independent

  • 25 Apr 13 BRITTEN 'Serenade for tenor, horn and strings' Scottish Chamber Orchestra
    Queen's Hall, Edinburgh
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    “The impressive centrepiece was Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, with a fine pair of soloists in tenor John Mark Ainsley and the SCO’s own principal horn Alec Frank-Gemmill, a player of rare composure and subtlety. Together they brought agile muscularity to the songs: the transition from Frank-Gemmill’s bold and spacious Prologue to Ainsley’s breezy Pastoral was a thrill, the Elegy was nicely laced with irony, and the spectral Dirge was hushed and macabre in Ainsley’s plangent high register.”
    Kate Molleson, The Guardian

    “…a performance of Britten’s Serenade for tenor, horn and strings that had something quite magical about it…the artlessly nuanced singing of John Mark Ainsley, sounding as fresh as he has done for years.”
    Andrew Clark, Financial Times

  • 01 Nov 12 BRITTEN 'War Requiem' Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    Royal Festival Hall, London
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    “…no other tenor of today is better able to locate the plangent centre of Britten’s vocal lines. Although grounded in the English tradition, there is a keening Italianate edge to Ainsley’s tone that rent the heart during ‘Move him into the sun’ and ‘One ever hangs where shelled roads part’.”
    Mark Valencia, Classical Source