Christopher Tonkin is currently engaged as resident principal baritone with Hannover Staatsoper, where his roles include the Count in Le Nozze di Figaro, Albert in Werther, Silvio in Pagliacci, Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pollux in Castor et Pollux, Harry Easter in Weill’s Street Scene, Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte, Schaunard in La Boheme, Ping in Turandot, Delirio in L’Opera seria, as well as Harlequin in Ariadne auf Naxos, and Valentin in Faust. Future roles in Hannover will include Marcello (Boheme), Maximilian (Candide), Ottokar (Der Freischütz) and Hans (Der Traumgörge, Zemlinsky).
Having grown up in Geelong Christopher, later moved to Melbourne where he completed a Bachelor of Music Performance under the tutelage of Anna Connolly at the Victorian College of the Arts. While at the VCA he won several awards and scholarships, sang in masterclasses with Sir Donald McIntyre and performed with Richard Bonynge, the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic, the Melbourne Chorale and Opera Australia’s touring school’s company, OzOpera.
After graduating from the VCA, Christopher was engaged by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra to perform as bass soloist in Handel’s Messiah and the Bach Cantata BWV 207. In the same year, Christopher won the Opera Foundation Italian Opera Award; a prize which took him to Europe the following year to study in Pisa, Italy, and then to Romania, where he performed the role of Silvio in the Galati Theatre summer production of I Pagliacci.
He subsequently relocated to London to study at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music, where he was supported by the Kohn Foundation and the Josephine Baker Trust. During this time, Christopher sang principal roles in six Academy productions, Anténor (Dardanus), Robert (Iolanta), Marco (Gianni Schicchi), Tarquinius (Rape of Lucretia) and Drebyednyetsov (Paradise Moscow). The highlight however was Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, directed by John Copley and conducted by Sir Colin Davis. Upon graduation, Christopher was awarded the coveted ‘Diploma of Royal Academy of Music,’ granted for performance excellence and distinguishing him as one of the Academy’s top graduates. During his time in the UK, Christopher was also engaged to sing at venues including Chichester Cathedral, the Barbican and the Royal Albert Hall, and was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on several occasions.
Christopher‘s operatic repertoire includes The Count (Capriccio), Novice’s Friend (Billy Budd) and Antonio (The Gondoliers) for Opera Australia; Happy in La Fanciulla del West (South Australian State Opera); L’Horloge Comtoise and Le Chat (L’Enfant et les sortileges), Happy (La Fanciulla del West) for Melbourne Symphony Orchestra; Don Giovanni for Melbourne Opera; the Black Minister in the La Fura dels Baus internationally renowned production of Le Grand Macabre (Adelaide Festival); and for Victorian Opera the roles of Chou En Lai (Nixon in China), Guglielmo (Così fan tutte) and Belcore (The Elixir of Love), for which he received a Green Room Award nomination.
In addition to his operatic engagements, Christopher has also had extensive oratorio and concert experience throughout Australia and in Europe, in repertoire including Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (for MSO), Bach’s St Matthew Passion (Melbourne Bach Choir) , St John Passion, Christmas Oratorio, Magnificat, Coffee Cantata, Cantatas BWV 12, 22, 23, 75 and 128, Mozart’s Vespers and Requiem, Graun’s Der Tod Jesu (for Lucerne Festival), Haydn’s Nelson Mass (Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Society), Maria Theresa Mass and Paukenmesse, Purcell’s Ode to St Cecilia, Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater, Vaughan-Williams’ Five Mystical Songs and Songs of Travel, Rudi Stephan’s Liebeszauber and Schumann’s Dichterliebe.