Expanded Biography




listair Dawes travels widely in his career as conductor and accompanist, working with the top international artists of the operatic world. He has a profound and detailed knowledge of numerous operas in the Italian, German, French, English, Russian and Czech repertoires.

He has appeared with all the major UK companies – conducting COSI FAN TUTTE, WERTHER, CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA, I PAGLIACCI, NABUCCO, CARMEN, and PETER GRIMES amongst many others, in addition to opera gala concerts and televised productions of Prokofiev’s LOVE FOR THREE ORANGES, Tippett’s MIDSUMMER MARRIAGE and Verdi’s STIFFELIO in the 1993 Olivier Awards.

In 1994 Alistair made his conducting début at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden with Massenet’s CHÉRUBIN, subsequently conducting COSI FAN TUTTE and the Moshinsky production of PETER GRIMES both at the Royal Opera House and on tour in Italy.

Alistair made his German conducting début with Verdi’s RIGOLETTO at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf in 1996 and he returned to Germany in November 1997 to conduct a series of concerts with José Cura.

In South Africa, Alistair has conducted CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA and PAGLIACCI, COSI FAN TUTTE, ERWARTUNG, DER SCHAUSPIELDIREKTOR, IL SEGRETO DI SUSANNA, ARIADNE AUF NAXOS, DIDO AND ÆNEAS and ALBERT HERRING in addition to radio recordings, orchestral and operatic concerts, and the award-winning production of Britten’s DEATH IN VENICE.

Alongside his operatic experience, Alistair made his orchestral concert début with the Philharmonia Orchestra, (Barbican Centre, London). He appeared with the City of London Sinfonia at the Exeter Festival and Osborne House, Isle of Wight in 1997, alongside performances/recordings of CARMEN and SAMSON ET DALILAH with Sir Colin Davis and the LSO in London.

The 1998/99 season opened with his début at Finnish National Opera conducting PETER GRIMES, concerts with José Cura and the National Symphony Orchestra in Dublin, and assistant to Sir Andrew Davis on PELLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE at Glyndebourne.

Alistair was invited to be the Music Director of the new International Longborough Festival Opera in 1998, conducting performances of Wagner’s DAS RHEINGOLD and DIE WALKÜRE during the opening two seasons, to great critical acclaim.

The 1999/2000 season opened with performances of TOSCA (UK), followed by a return to Finnish National Opera, for Britten’s PETER GRIMES. He made his début at the Carlo Felice in Genova with Britten’s DEATH IN VENICE, and returned to Ireland for further concerts, including a return to Cork and Dublin with José Cura and the RTÉ National Concert Orchestra. This was followed by performances of TOSCA and HÄNSEL UND GRETEL on tour in the U.K.

In January 2001 Alistair made his début in Florence, to overwhelming critical acclaim, conducting Britten’s THE RAPE OF LUCRETIA (Teatro Goldoni), and returned later that year for Britten’s DEATH IN VENICE, (Teatro Comunale).

Engagements in 2003/4 included TOSCA & DAMNATION DE FAUST (Opera North), vocal and orchestral concerts, (including Shostakovich Symphony N° 8) and DON GIOVANNI.

July saw Alistair conducting the fully-staged World Premiere of Will Todd’s THE BLACKENED MAN – prize winner in the La Scala International Verdi Competition in Milan – at the Buxton Festival and at the Gala Theatre in Durham following the production in the Linbury Studio at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Following his conducting début at Opera North with Massenet’s MANON, Alistair returned to the Company in 2005 to conduct DON GIOVANNI in both England and Northern Ireland – the Company’s début in the Province.

Alistair returned to Italy in the same year to conduct the new Cesare da Lievi Production of PETER GRIMES in Modena, Reggio Emilia and Ferrara, which was received with outstanding reviews.

Alistair has conducted numerous operatic concerts with renowned orchestras (RTE, Philharmonia, CLS, etc.) and soloists (O’Neill, Cura, Dessì, Domingo) where his expertise in this field, allied to his orchestral repertoire, has lead to rapturous receptions. He conducted Dame Kiri te Kanawa and Dennis O’Neill with the RTE Concert Orchestra in the prestigious “European Capital of Culture” Concert in Cork (2006).

Following a series of Mozart and Mendelssohn concerts in 2005 with the Orchestra Sinfonica della Fondazione Arturo Toscanini, Alistair returned to Italy in December 2006 to conduct the orchestra on tour in a series of Beethoven concerts. He was also invited later that year, by the Fondazione Toscanini, to conduct IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA and I DUE FOSCARI.

Following his New Zealand debut in Wellington and Auckland conducting Mozart’s DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE in Sir Peter Hall’s renowned Los Angeles production, for New Zealand Opera, Alistair conducted performances for the Young Artists Programme at the New National Theatre in Tokyo, before returning to Italy for a series of concerts of Mozart Piano and Violin Concertos in Piacenza.

Alistair conducted the Chamber Orchestra and soloists in the prestigious Parma premiere of Britten’s WAR REQUIEM at the Teatro Regio and returned in November 2007 for orchestral concerts both in Parma & the Teatro Rossini (Lugo) with the Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini.

After a major tour of Verdi’s RIGOLETTO in the UK, Alistair finished the year with a prestigious Gala concert in Reykjavik with Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Gardar Cortes and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra.

2008 began with concerts for the Toscanini Orchestra in Piacenza and Parma and continued with concerts in the UK with singers from the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme, and concerts in Reggio Emilia and San Polo d’Enza in Northern Italy.

2009 began with concerts for the Toscanini Orchestra in Fidenza; however, this was immediately followed by a serious injury to his left arm and six months recuperation! Alistair resumed his career as accompanist in August, and conducted a major vocal, choral and orchestral concert in the UK in October, swiftly followed by the major success as conductor/pianist with the Toscanini Orchestra in Parma of music from the “Belle Epoque”. He has been invited to repeat this concert in the Summer of 2010 in Reggio Emilia.

Alistair continues his specialist work with young singers at the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at Covent Garden, the National Opera Studio in London and the Opera School of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, as well as with Training Programmes overseas.

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