CD Reviews

  • Handel's Finest Arias For Base Voice (CD)

    “performances of scenes from 14 of the composer’s dramatic works, lithely and splendidly supported by up-and-coming ensemble Arcangelo and conductor Jonathan Cohen. In short, this is the most outstanding album of its kind I’ve ever heard from any singer, better by far than Ildebrando D’Arcangelo’s recent unidiomatic and leaden recording of Handel’s Italian arias.”
    — Classical Music Magazine, Adrian Horsewood (December 2012)
    “Possessing in effect two voices in one – a ringing, incisive high baritone with a sonorous bass extension … Purves’s flair for specific characterisation enlivens every number on the disc…A counter … to the cliched notion that [Handel's] bass arias are all undifferentiated bluster”
    — Gramophone Magazine, Richard Wigmore (January 2013)
    “Purves is a fine vocal actor, and we’re continuously aware of the variety of Handel’s style and the sharpness of his characterisation. The great moments are those in which the singing reveals the depths of Handel’s psychological insight, above all in a scene from Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, in which the monster Polifemo is suddenly shown to have immense nobility of soul.”
    — The Guardian, 10th January 2013
    “Purves’ voice has a noble timbre and is informed by the keenest intelligence”
    — Financial Times, 19th January 2013
    “one to treasure both for the sensitive and well-sustained singing of Christopher Purves and for the wonderfully wide expressive range of Handel’s music…Purves has an acute ear, serving well his intonation and lively feeling for characterisation…The pleasure of single-voice recitals can sometimes be tempered by repetitive mannerisms or exaggerated gestures. Purves avoids both, ensuring enjoyment”
    — BBC Music Magazine, February 2013
    “Handel has a natural champion in Christopher Purves, who shape-shifts his way with supreme skill through a recital programme that extends from vengeful coloratura to the pathos of Handel’s longest (and lowest) legato melodies. These contemplative arias make for unlikely show-stoppers, but so it proves.”
    — Opera magazine, May 2013

  • Handel SAUL (Coro) – The Sixteen, Harry Christophers (CD)

    “Christopher Purves charms, broods, fumes implacably, plots villainously and confronts his doom vividly in the manner of a Shakespearean tragedian. The incrementing fury of his secretive seething reactions to imprudent women exalting David’s military successes above those of the king are compelling.”
    — Gramophone Magazine, David Vickers (Oct’12)

Opera Reviews

  • Wagner RHEINGOLD – Houston Grand Opera (April 2014)

    “Christopher Purves' baritone instrument fascinates as he sings Albreich with tangible passion and drive”
    — Broadway World, April 2014
    “Vocal standouts included ... the ringing Alberich of baritone Christopher Purves”
    — Classical Voice America, April 2014

  • Puccini MADAMA BUTTERFLY – Chicago Lyric Opera (October 2013)

    “Purves's Counsul showed the ideal mix of anguish and frustration in both acting and singing as he tries to broach the topic with Butterfly.”
    — Opera Today, October 2013
    “An audience favorite was British baritone Christopher Purves as Sharpless, the American Consul, who is Butterfly’s advocate and protector. His beautifully sung dialog and superb acting were perfectly balanced in tone and tenor. He makes us believe for a split second that it can all work out for Pinkerton and Cio-Cio San (Butterfly) before our hopes, and hers, are dashed forever.”
    — Chicago Stage Review, October 2013
    “Taking full advantage of his full, expressive voice and total sense of ease on stage, Purves imbued Sharpless, the American consul in Nagasaki, with a sense of empathy and presence.”
    — Chicago Sun Times, October 2013
    “Apart from Oram’s set, the one saving grace of the evening was Christopher Purves, who proved a Sharpless for the ages. The British baritone looks like a diplomat, and sang beautifully with a rich, burnished Italianate tone. Purves‘ understated yet nuanced acting etched a vivid portrait, conveying the American consul’s compassion for Butterfly, as well as his frustration and anger towards the heartless Pinkerton.”
    — Chicago Classical Review, October 2013

  • George Benjamin WRITTEN ON SKIN - Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (March 2013)

    “Christopher Purves, one of the great operatic artists of the present, is the complicated and dangerous Protector”
    — The Spectator, March 2013
    “Christopher Purves dominates the stage as the Protector, who eventually comes to appear just as repressed as his wife”
    — Opera Magazine, May 2013
    “Christopher Purves has rarely done anything better than the thuggish husband who unwittingly provokes his young wife's sexual awakening”
    — Intermezzo, March 2013
    “In his first utterance the Protector, performed with brilliance and subtlety by the formidable Purves, sings of his possessions: the fields, the vines, the night stars, the pink eglantine, the obedient body of his wife”
    — Fiona Maddocks - Observer, March 2013

  • Philip Glass THE PERFECT AMERICAN - Teatro Real Madrid (2013)

    “The complicated character of Walt Disney comes to life in this thoughtful, brilliantly executed opera. Baritone Christopher Purves gives it all as Walt. He almost never leaves the stage and composes an egotistic yet vulnerable villain”
    — Roberto Herrscher, Opera News (January 2013)
    “Especially Christopher Purves, who portrays the alter ego of Walt Disney in a particularly interesting characterisation, was met with warm approval by the Teatro Real audience.”
    — Rubén Amón, El Mundo (January 2013)

  • George Benjamin WRITTEN ON SKIN - Grand Théâtre de Provence, Aix-en-Provence (2012)

    “The cast is remarkable. Christopher Purves manages to give a human dimension to the Protector's cruelty.”
    — Andrew Clements, The Guardian (July 2012)
    “Benjamin's score has a beauty that is rare in contemporary music. Christopher Purves is a powerful Protector, shot through with hidden doubts... The show's standing ovation was deserved, and London audiences can look forward to a production in 2013.”
    — Liam Cagney, The Telegraph (July 2012)
    “Christopher Purves - perfect, especially when revealing the hollow shell behind the iron fist”
    — Richard Morrison, The Times (July 2012)
    “The piece is aided by a top-drawer cast. Christopher Purves brings substance and dimension to his role.'”
    — Shirley Apthorp, Financial Times (July 2012)

  • Damnation of Faust – ENO (May 2011)

    “Gilliam’s not-so-secret weapons are his Mephistopheles, Christopher Purves at his most charismatic, infallible and infinitely nuanced”
    — Jessica Duchen – Independent
    “Christopher Purves captures the suave, sardonic insinuation of Goethe’s and Berlioz’s Mephistopheles, as well as his sinister intent.”
    — Hugh Canning – Sunday Times
    “Christopher Purves, right, as Mephistopheles is the master of ceremonies, by turns suave, demonic or caricature, and commandingly incisve in everything he sings.”
    — Andrew Clements – The Guardian
    “I haven’t space to pay adequate tribute to Edward Gardner’s magnificent conducting, Peter Hoare’s charismatic performance in the title role, Christopher Purves’s gloriously sardonic Mephistopheles, or Christine Rice’s heart-rending singing of Marguerite’s two gorgeous arias, but all of them excelled themselves, as did the orchestra and chorus.”
    — Rupert Christiansen – The Telegraph

  • DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG – Welsh National Opera (June 2010)

    “..and Christopher Purves’s Beckmesser is as hilarious as he is plausible, making the accidental seem genuinely unrehearsed. Hats off to WNO.”
    — Financial Times, Andrew Clark (20 June 2010)
    “…hilarious pratfalls from Christopher Purves’s overweeningly pompous and preening Beckmesser – the evening’s other individual world-class performance.”
    — The Sunday Times, Hugh Canning (27 June 2010)
    “Christopher Purves was every bit his [Terfel's] match: a poor misguided fool, but also a survivor, who will no doubt recover his dignity and become mayor”
    — The Telegraph, Rupert Christiansen (21 June 2010)
    “Christopher Purves’s pedantic, accident-prone Beckmesser is a creation of comic genius”
    — The Times, Richard Morrison (21 June 2010)
    “Christopher Purves’s Beckmesser was another first-rate character study, not overdone and sung with serious intent”
    — Opera Magazine, Michael Kennedy (August 2010)
    “Christopher Purves’ remarkable Beckmesser was another vocal high point of this evening. With never a note out of place and with extraordinary vocal finesse, his marvellously judged acting was a constant delight. Like Terfel’s, his [is] a truly huge talent which seems to grow stronger year by year, regardless of whether he is singing [Falstaff], Nick Shadow, Wozzeck or now Beckmesser, every one of them characterisations of the highest quality.”
    — Musicweb-International, Bill Kenny (19 June 2010)

  • WOZZECK – Welsh National Opera (September 2009)

    “Christopher Purves returns to the title role with renewed authority. His depiction of Wozzeck’s anguish is almost unbearably touching, and the moments in which he waxes lyrical about nature carry the most glorious tone-colours.”
    — The Guardian, Rian Evans (29 Sept 2009)

  • FALSTAFF – Glyndebourne Festival Opera (June 2009)

    “Purves’s suavely sung, flamboyantly self-debunking Falstaff is worth the ticket price.”
    — Richard Morrison / The Times
    “…two characters inevitably and quite properly dominated. One was Christopher Purves, whose Falstaff was a magnificent, dramatically mercurial presence throughout. Whatever he was doing – wielding the nose-hair clipper with rhythmic elan, mincing down the stairs in his ‘seduction kit’ of scoutmaster’s shorts, ruefully inspecting his grizzled man-boobs as he contemplated mortality – Purves had the shape of the part and sang forth its many moods with unfailing generosity”
    — Opera, Roger Parker (July 2009)
    “Purves, however, is marvellous. With his big voice, he is an empathetic figure, so that when he denounces the ‘wicked, thieving world’ – of which he is, ironically, very much a part – we really feel for him”
    — Thu Guardian, Tim Ashley (23 May 2009)
    “Christopher Purves, one of our most versatile singing actors, cleverly suggests that while the pounds have piled on, this Falstaff will never abandon keeping up appearances. He’s still light on his feet, he’s still piss-elegant, he’s still - in his imagination - that lissom pageboy to the Duke of Norfolk. And, yes, he still believes he’s sexy enough to carry off the Safari Suit and shorts even when the mirror should have told him otherwise.”
    — Edward Seckerson / The Independent

Concert Reviews

  • Haydn THE SEASONS – Gabrieli Consort (Jan 2012)

    “Of the three soloists, it was Christopher Purves as the bass Simon who really made the English words come alive, singing with a generosity of spirit that reflects what The Seasons is all about.”
    — Financial Times, Richard Fairman (17 Jan 2012)
    “Christopher Purves, the commanding but never stentorian baritone”
    — The Guardian, Tim Ashley (17 Jan 2012)

  • Handel ACI, GALATEA E POLIFEMO, ACIS & GALATEA – Gabrieli Consort, Wigmore Hall (February 2009)

    “… Mhairi Lawson and James Gilchrist making an excellent pair of lovers opposite Christopher Purves’s gauchely dangerous Polyphemus. Purves, along with McCreesh, also tackled the vast, vocally treacherous role of Polifemo in the earlier work, causing a considerable stir”
    — The Guardian, Feb 2009 – Tim Ashley

  • FALSTAFF – Welsh National Opera (March 2008)

    “…it was Christopher Purves’s portrayal of Ford that vied in stature with that of Terfel. The scene at the Garter Inn in which Ford and Falstaff meet across the table was a masterly exchange, bristling with testosterone yet with the phrasing subtly weighted. It made Purves’s subsequent explosion in ‘E sogno?’ all the more compelling, seething with jealousy and disbelief. Each word was crystal clear…”
    — Opera, May 2008 – Rian Evans
    “Christopher Purves’ Ford is in no way dwarfed by Terfel, making Fontana’s first encounter with Falstaff a brilliant exchange and the aria, E Sogno, totally gripping.”
    — The Guardian, 5th March 2008 – Rian Evans
    “Christopher Purves convinces as a perpetually seething Ford.”
    — The Times Online, 5th March 2008 – Richard Morrison
    “…but I relished Anne-Marie Owens’ glamorous barmaid of a Mistress Quickly and Christopher Purves’ magnificently splenetic Ford (Purves sings Falstaff at Glyndebourne soon, and Terfel must look to his laurels)…”
    — The Telegraph, 6th March 2008 – Rupert Christiansen
    “Christopher Purves stands out as a frantic Ford…”
    — The Guardian, 10th March 2008 – Anthony Holden

  • ALBAN BERG - WOZZECK (February 2005)

    “Christopher Purves is compelling and warmly musical in the title role”
    — The Times, John Allison (Feb 2005)
    “Christopher Purves a marvellous, almost bel canto yet shambling Wozzeck”
    — The Independent, Stephen Walsh (23rd Feb 2005)
    “Christopher Purves’s Wozzeck is one of the finest things this artist has done on the operatic stage. He sings the notes with beautiful, firm, dark tone and creates a pitiful figure of heroic fortitude, until he snaps.”
    — The Sunday Times, Hugh Canning (Feb 2005)
    “…Purves’s impersonation of the title role – intelligently and musically sung, as ever – is so complete as to eradicate his normally affable stage presence. For one and a half hours, he is Wozzeck.”
    — The Independent, Anna Picard (27th Feb 2005)