Richard Farnes read Music at King’s College, Cambridge, where he was organ scholar, and went on to study at the National Opera Studio, Royal Academy of Music and at the Guildhall School of Music, where he conducted the first British production of Rossini’s The Journey to Reims. On completion of his studies he gained valuable experience working on the music staff of the Glyndebourne Festival, Scottish Opera and Opera Factory.
In September 2004 Richard Farnes was appointed Music Director of Opera North. This was the culmination of a long association with this most innovative of the UK’s opera companies, for whom he had already conducted a wide variety of repertoire including La traviata, Simon Holt’s The Nightingale’s to Blame, Giovanna d’Arco, Britten’s Gloriana, Le nozze di Figaro, Eugene Onegin and Cimarosa’s The Secret Marriage. Since taking up this position he has conducted productions of Manon, Don Giovanni, La rondine, Katya Kabanova, Falstaff, Macbeth and Don Carlos, an award-winning production of Peter Grimes, and concert performances of Elektra, Salome, Hansel and Gretel, and Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, which he also recorded for Chandos Records. 2009 saw the world premiere of David Sawer’s opera Skin Deep, which toured to the Bregenz Festival in Austria.
Richard Farnes has also had a close association with Scottish Opera, conducting La Bohème, Tosca, The Magic Flute, L’elisir d’amore, David Horne’s Friend of the People, and a double bill of works by Param Vir, and at Glyndebourne, conducting The Makropulos Case and Peter Hall’s recent production of Otello at the Festival, and Albert Herring, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, La Bohème and Le nozze di Figaro on tour throughout the UK. He returned to the Glyndebourne Festival in August 2005 with Jonathan Dove’s Flight.
Other opera engagements have included perofmrances with the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, New Israeli Opera, Tel Aviv, English Touring Opera, Birmingham Opera Company, Opera Theatre Company in Dublin, and European Chamber Opera.
Concert engagements have included performances with the London Philharmonic, Haydn Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra of Opera North, the Royal Opera House Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. In 1992 Richard Farnes founded Equinox, a chamber orchestra and ensemble that aims to promote twentieth-century repertoire to wider audiences and which has given a number of concerts at St John’s Smith Square.