Nicholas Clapton

Biography

Nicholas Clapton made his professional debut at the Wigmore Hall in 1984, singing Purcell’s famous Music for a While in the “right” key, a very low experience not easily forgotten. In the following year he went on to win two prizes at the Concurso Francisco Viñas, discovering while there that “there are no harpsichords in Barcelona”, a situation which has thankfully improved since. In 1987 he won the English Song Award, against the rumblings of another contestant heard to complain about “*&%$£)@ counter-tenors”.

Thus marked out as something of a pioneer, he was one of the first modern counter-tenors to go beyond “accepted” repertoire. With a sound light-years from Anglican norms, he branched out into Romantic song (in partnership with renowned pianist Jennifer Partridge), the heroic castrato repertoire of the baroque period (turning himself into Farinelli on numerous occasions in the process), and twenty-first century opera (most recently on the South Bank as a lace-bedecked Sir Isaac Newton in Will Gregory’s Piccard in Space, and in Cologne in Gloria Coates' Stolen identity).

He has sung in opera houses and concert halls from Santiago to Singapore, given more than thirty world premières, and made recordings ranging from the passionate and florid cantatas of Handel's contemporary Nicola Porpora to the manic and utterly individual Triumph of Beauty and Deceit by Gerald Barry. During the last decade he has also given numerous performances throughout Britain with the Locrian Ensemble (“one of the busiest and most sought-after of British musical groups”), particularly their Handel by Candlelight programme, and The Angel of Rome, a one-man show about the last castrato, Alessandro Moreschi, specially written for him by the group's artistic director, Justin Pearson.