The English baritone, Jonathan Sells, graduated with distinction both from Cambridge University (Music and Musicology) and the Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (Janice Chapman), where he was subsequently a Guildhall Artist Fellow. He then spent two years at the Zurich Opera Studio. He took 1st prize at the Thelma King Vocal Awards, won the Rose Bowl at the Guildhall Gold Medal as well as the Guildhall Wigmore Recital Prize, which led to a full-length solo recital in Wigmore Hall. His awards include the Prix Thierry Mermod at the Verbier Festival Academy, the Worshipful Company of Musicians’ Silver Medal, and the Gottlob Frick Bronze Medal. He currently studies with Michelle Wegwart.
Described as a ‘sparkling storyteller’ with ‘outstanding intelligibility and a naturally powerful sound’, Jonathan Sells is equally at home on the opera, concert and recital stages. He is currently a member of the International Opera Studio at the Zürich Opera House. At the Zürich Opera he sang Bottom, Kuchař in Z mrtvého domu (From the House of the Dead, Konwitshny/Ingo Metzmacher), Luther in Les Contes d’Hoffmann (Asagaroff/Zinman), den König in Orff’s Die Kluge, Bartolo Il barbiere di Siviglia, Starker Blinder in Anno Schreier’s Die Stadt der Blinden (world premiere, Müller/Hamar) and Perrückenmacher Ariadne auf Naxos (Guth/Schneider). He regularly performs W.A. Mozart and Rossini roles, including W.A. Mozart’s Don Alfonso (cover, Glyndebourne Festival Opera), Count Almaviva, Don Giovanni and Leporello (Verbier Festival; Bahrain), Rossini’s Bartolo and Figaro (Oper Schloss Hallwyl), and Slook La cambiale di matrimonio. His talent for early music has led him to work with the Chelsea Opera Group (Hérault & Apollon in Alceste), Opéra de Dijon (La Pellegrina, 1589), Opéra de Paris (L’allegro, il penseroso ed il moderato, William Christie), Teatro Real (Pastore & Spiritoin Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo), and Aix-en-Provence Festival (Sleep & Mopsa in The Fairy Queen), and to perform the title role in L’Orfeo in Switzerland. Bel canto roles include Rambaldo La rondine, Germont in La Traviata (Wexford Festival Opera shortworks), and Ficcanaso in Pacini’s Don Giovanni Tenorio (Free Opera Company, Zürich). Further contemporary opera includes Sallinen’s The King Goes Forth to France (Prime Minister). In 2014-2015 he sang the Czar in Zar und Zimmermann for Operettenbühne Hombrechtikon, the Lautsprecher in Der Kaiser von Atlantis (Ullmann) at the Opéra de Dijon, Papageno at Oper Schloss Hallwyl (Switzerland) and in The Fairy Queen at Oper Schloss Waldegg (Switzerland).
Particular highlights from Jonathan Sells' busy concert schedule include J.S. Bach's cantatas with John Eliot Gardiner in the Berliner Philharmonie, the Messenger in Igor Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex with John Eliot Gardiner and the London Symphony Orchestra, the Jardin des Voix world tour with William Christie and Les Arts Florissants, and performing and recording Plutone in Monteverdi’s Ballo dell’ingrate with I Fagiolini. He has recorded for Decca, Chandos, and Naxos).
Jonathan Sells has performed as a soloist in the Alte Oper (Frankfurt), Metz Arsenal, Auditorio Nacional Madrid, Barbican Hall, Berliner Philharmonie, Berner Münster, Cadogan Hall, Carnegie Hall, Chapelle Royale de Versailles, Cité de la musique, Opéra Comique, Philharmonie Essen, Fondacion Gulbenkian Lisbon, Grand Théâtre de Provence, King’s College Chapel, Kultur-Casino Bern, KKLuzern, Lincoln Center, Palais des Beaux Arts (Brussels), Pisa Cathedral, Royal Albert Hall, Riga Cathedral, Prague Rudolfinum, Salle Pleyel, Sheldonian Theatre, Snape Maltings, Stadtcasino Basel, St John’s Smith Square, Thomaskirche Leipzig, Tonhalle Zürich, Usher Hall, Victoria Hall Geneva and Wigmore Hall, with conductors including John Butt, William Christie, Stephen Cleobury, Richard Egarr, John Eliot Gardiner, Edward Higginbottom, Jan Latham-Koenig, Ton Koopman, Stephen Layton, Roger Norrington, Howard Shelley, and Masaaki Suzuki.
Art song is an essential part of Jonathan Sells’s singing life. He has been lucky enough to learn from Robin Bowman, Julius Drake, Helmut Deutsch, Christoph Eschenbach, Matthias Goerne, Cornelia Kallisch, Graham Johnson, Malcolm Martineau, Thomas Quasthoff, Anthony Rolfe-Johnson, Richard Stokes, and Sarah Walker. Having performed at the Chelsea Schubert Festival, Leeds Lieder+, London Song Festival, London English Song Festival, and City of London Festival, Jonathan gave his debut recital at Wigmore Hall in 2010. His recital repertoire includes Schubert’s Winterreise and Die schöne Müllerin, Robert Schumann's Dichterliebe, Kerner Lieder and Liederkreis Op.39, Debussy’s Cinq poèmes de Baudelaire, Francis Poulenc's Chansons gaillardes, Gustav Mahler's Kindertotenlieder, Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen and Das Lied von der Erde, and Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch. He gave two recitals in Switzerland in February 2016: Schubert, Schoeck and Rushton for Liedrezital Zürich with composer Edward Rushton at the piano, and Schoeck’s masterpiece Notturno for voice and string quartet at the Berner Liederstunden.
Jonathan Sells is also joint artistic director, with James Halliday, of Solomon’s Knot Baroque collective. Recent performances have included a collaboration and tour of Georg Philipp Telemann and J.S. Bach with Bernese Baroque orchestra Les Passions de l’Ame in March 2015, as well as a continuation of their Open Space residency at Aldeburgh Music with Pour un tombeau d’Anatole on April 4. He is currently based in Zürich, Switzerland.