French-Italian mezzo-soprano Lea Desandre studied in Venice with Sara Mingardo and was selected for William Christie’s Jardin des Voix in 2015. She was awarded Vocal Discovery and Lyrical Artist of the Year at the Victoires de la Musique Awards in 2017 and 2021 respectively. In addition to her vocal talents, she is also a trained ballet dancer.
Most recently in 2021, she had huge success making her role debut as Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro/Mozart) in Aix-en-Provence. She has since sung it at Opéra de Paris, Zurich Opera House, Liceu Barcelona and Opéra de Lausanne.
In 2017, she made her debut in the title role of Alcione at the Opéra Comique and returned the following season for a one-woman show (Et in Arcadie ego/Rameau). She sang at Festival d’Aix-en-Provence in 2017 in Erismena (Cavalli) and made her debut at the Salzburg Festival in 2018 in Incoronazione di Poppea (Valletto & Amore/Monteverdi). She has been returning to Salzburg ever since: Vénus (Orphée aux Enfers/Offenbach) and Abel (La Morte d’Abel/Caldara) in 2019, Despina (Cosi fan tutte/Mozart) in 2020 & 2021, Annio (La Clemenza di Tito/Mozart) in 2021, as well as numerous recitals of Mozart arias. Other roles have included Urbain (Les Huguenots/Meyerbeer) at Grand Théâtre de Genève; Idamante (Idomeneo/Mozart) at Staatsoper Berlin; Rosina (Il Barbiere di Siviglia/Rossini) at Opéra de Rouen, Amour (Orphée/Gluck-Berlioz) at Opéra Comique and Messaggiera (Orfeo/Monteverdi) at Harris Theater Chicago.
Concert appearances and song recitals have taken her to places such as New York’s Carnegie Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, Vienna Musikverein, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Berliner Philharmoniker, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and Philharmonie de Paris, Mozarteum Salzburg, Sydney Opera House, Opéra National de Bordeaux, Alice Tully Hall NY, Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow, Shanghai Symphony Hall and Opéra de Versailles.
She has collaborated with conductors such as Gustavo Dudamel, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Myung-Whun Chung, Enrique Mazzola, William Christie, Marc Minkowski, Joana Mallwitz, Raphaël Pichon, Jordi Savall, Emmanuelle Haïm, Laurence Equilbey and Christophe Rousset, and directors such as Barrie Kosky, Christof Loy, Netia Jones, Lotte de Beer, Jan Lawyers, Jossi Wieler and Jean-Yves Ruf.
Lea’s first solo recital CD, Amazone (awarded Gramophone Editor’s Choice in 2021) was recorded in exclusivity with Erato Warner and features the Jupiter Ensemble conducted by Thomas Dunford with guests Cecilia Bartoli, Véronique Gens and William Christie.
In 2022/23, she will sing Cherubino (Mozart) at the Zurich Opera House, Stéphano (Roméo et Juliette/Gounod) at Opéra de Paris, Dido (Purcell) at Teatros del Canal, Annio (La Clemenza di Tito/Mozart) on a European tour, « Berenice che fai ? » (Haydn) at Musikverein Wien with Adam Fischer/Wiener Philharmoniker; Great mass in C minor (Mozart) at Santa Cecilia with Manfred Honeck; at Philharmonie de Paris with William Christie/Paul Agnew; Wigmore Hall, Konzerthaus Wien, Staatsoper Berlin and on a US tour with Thomas Dunford/Jupiter.
Born in Paris in 1988, Thomas Dunford discovered the lute at the age of nine, thanks to his first teacher Claire Antonini. He completed his studies in 2006 at the Conservatoire de Paris (CRR), when he obtained a unanimous 1st Prize with honors in the class of Charles-Edouard Fantin.
Thomas Dunford continued his studies at the Schola Cantorum in Basel with Hopkinson Smith, and participated in several master classes with artists the caliber of Rolf Lislevand and Julian Bream, and in workshops with Eugène Ferré, Paul O’Dette, Pascale Boquet, Benjamin Perrot and Eduardo Eguez. He was awarded his Bachelor’s degree in 2009.
From September 2003 through to January 2005, Thomas gave his first performances playing the role of the lutenist in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night on stage at the Comédie française. Since then, Thomas has played recitals in New York’s Carnegie Hall and Frick Collection, London’s Wigmore Hall, the Washington Kennedy Center, the Vancouver Recital Society, Cal performances at Berkeley, the Banff center, the Palau de la Musica in Barcelona, the festivals of Saintes, Utrecht, Maguelone, Froville, TAP Poitiers, WDR Cologne, Radio France Montpellier, Saffron Hall. He made numerous solo or ensemble appearances in the most prestigious European festivals including Ambronay, Arc La Bataille, Bozar, La Chaise-Dieu, Nantes, Saintes, Utrecht and many others. He has also performed further afield in England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Austria, Norway, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Czech Republic, Bresil, Colombia, Chili, Mexico, United States, Israel, China, Japan and India.
Thomas Dunford’ first solo CD Lachrimae recorded for the French label Alpha in 2012, was unanimously acclaimed by critics and was awarded the Caecilia prize of 2013, BBC Magazine calling him the “Eric Clapton of the lute”. His second CD « Labirinto d’Amore » was awarded the « Choc » from Classica magazine.
Thomas Dunford is regularly in demand, playing a variety of early plucked string instruments with the ensembles Les Arts Florissants, Akadêmia, Amarillis, Les Ambassadeurs, Arcangelo, La Cappella Mediterranea, Capriccio Stravagante, Le Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles, La Chapelle Rhénane, Clematis, Collegium Vocale Gent, Le Concert Spirituel, Le Concert d’Astrée, A 2 Violes Esgales, The English Concert, l’Ensemble Baroque de Limoges, La Fenice, Les Folies Francaises, the Irish Baroque Orchestra, Marsyas, Les Musiciens du Louvre, Les Musiciens du Paradis, Les Musiciens de Saint Julien, Les Ombres, Pierre Robert, Pygmalion, La Sainte Folie Fantastique, Scherzi Musicali, La Serenissima, Les Siècles, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, La Symphonie du Marais…
Thomas Dunford is attracted to a wide variety of music including jazz, and collaborates in chamber music projects with conductors and soloists Paul Agnew, Leonardo Garcia Alarcon, Nicola Benedetti, Keyvan Chemirani, William Christie, Jonathan Cohen, Christophe Coin, Iestyn Davies, Lea Desandre, Isabelle Faust, Bobby McFerrin, Philippe Herreweghe, Monica Huggett, Alexis Kosenko, Francois Lazarévitch, Anne-Sophie von Otter, Trevor Pinnock, Patricia Petibon, Sandrine Piau, Anna Prohaska, Hugo Reyne, Anna Reinhold, Jean Rondeau, Skip Sempé, Jean Tubéry…