Described as 'the James Bond of Classical Music', Gardar Thor Cortes, who hails from Iceland, had phenomenal success with a British Number One album called Cortes, sell-out tours and a Classical Brit Award nomination in 2008. Having taken 4 years out to focus on his then new-born son and family, he is now ready to take the recording and performing world by storm again with a new classical-crossover album in development.
Cortes' studies began at an early age at the Reykjavik School of Singing. Furthering his career, he attended Hochschule für Darstellende Kunst and Musik in Vienna, had private lessons in New York and Copenhagen and took the two year opera course at the Royal Academy of Music in London. His teachers have included David Maxwell Anderson, Stuart Burrows, Paul Farrington, Paul Wynne Griffiths, David Jones, Kiri Te Kanawa, Andre Orlowitz, Robin Stapleton and Michael Rhodes and his versatile voice has enabled him to sing and have success in a wide variety of music - opera, oratorio, lieder, musicals, contemporary music and jazz.
Having been nominated for the Icelandic Music Awards and the Icelandic Performing Arts Awards for his opera roles numerous times as well as being voted sexiest man in the country not once but twice, his singing engagements have taken him to Scandinavia, Europe, USA and Asia and the prestigious venues of the Barbican, Royal Albert Hall and Royal Festival Hall in London and Carnegie Hall in New York which resulted in him becoming the face of and ambassador for the high-end men's clothing line Ermenegildo Zegna. He sang at one of the BBC's top featured events; the Proms in the Park in front of 40,000 people, broadcast live to millions of people, and has taken part in a number of their other entertainment programmes. He has toured with Katherine Jenkins, Kiri Te Kanawa and Lesley Garrett and has sung the major opera roles of Ferrando (Cosi fan tutte), Fenton (Falstaff), Afredo (La Traviata), Rinucchio (Gianna Schicchi), Italian singer (Der Rosenkavalier), Vakula (Cherevichki), Chanfalla (Das Wundertheater, Il duca (Rigoletto), Don Ramiro (La Cenerentola) and Nemorino (L'elisir d'amore), Tamino (Die Zauberflöte) and Rodolfo (La Boheme) at the Icelandic Opera.
Cortes has released albums, classical and crossover in both the UK and his native Iceland as well as Germany, Austria, and Switzerland reaching number 1 in the charts in South Africa and Taiwan. In 2011 he recorded an album of duets with his father Gardar Cortes Snr entitled 'Island' which received great critical acclaim.
His acting career started at the age of 13 when he won the lead role in a hugely successful European TV series called Nonni and Manni and appearances since have included Curly (Oklahoma), Tony (West Side Story) and Raoul in Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre in the West End of London. In 2011 Cortes took part in the 25th Anniversary Concert of the Phantom of the Opera at The Royal Albert Hall, a production which was broadcast live to cinemas across the globe and released on DVD. Leaving 2012 behind with an unusual sell-out performance of Mozart's Requiem at Langholtskirkja in Iceland with symphony orchestra and choir on the 4th/5th December at the exact time of Mozart's passing, along with a New Years Eve concert at the beautiful Icelandic Church Grafarvogskirkja, it produced some magical moments which those who attended say they will never forget.
Having just completed a run of Rudolpho in La Boheme and presently rehearsing for the role of Don Jose in Carmen with the Icelandic Opera, he is also a regular guest at Lubeck Opera in Germany playing Nicias in Thais, and performs with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at The Royal Albert Hall on the 27th October this year before a double-billed tour with Blake of South Africa and Dubai takes place in February 2014. (Including Valentines Day which will certainly prove a perfect moment for beating hearts...)
With filming for a leading role in a comedy TV series which broadcasts prime-time on Iceland's equivalent to the BBC - the coming months and year ahead will prove to be the time of Cortes's second and true coming. Here's to his latest album reaching not only the Number 1 spot in the UK - but worldwide!
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