English conductor John Eliot Gardiner made his Royal Opera debut in 1973, conducting Iphigénie en Tauride. He has since returned to conduct Chérubin, The Cunning Little Vixen, La finta giardiniera, Simon Boccanegra, Rigoletto and Le nozze di Figaro for The Royal Opera.
Gardiner was born in Fontmell Magna, Dorset. His early musical experience came through singing with his family and in a local church choir. He began to study conducting while at Bryanston School and founded the Monteverdi Choir while reading History, Arabic and Medieval Spanish at King’s College, Cambridge. He is now regarded as one of the key figures of the early music revival, and is artistic director of the Monteverdi Choir and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. His operatic repertory ranges from Monteverdi to Stravinsky and is reflected in his acclaimed recordings. He was music director of the Opéra National de Lyon from 1983 to 1988. Since the early 1990s he has held residencies with his ensembles at the Théâtre du Châtelet (culminating in an internationally acclaimed production of Les Troyens) and at the Opéra-Comique. His first book, a portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach entitled Music in the Castle of Heaven, was published in 2013 by Allen Lane.
Gardiner received a knighthood in H.M. The Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 1998 and the Légion d’Honneur in 2010. In his spare time he runs an organic farm originally set up by his great uncle, composer Henry Balfour Gardiner, at Springhead in North Dorset.