Farnes was a chorister at King's College, Cambridge before entering Eton College as a music scholar in 1977. He returned to King's as organ scholar in 1983 and subsequently studied at the Royal Academy of Music, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the National Opera Studio.
During his professional career, he has conducted operas at the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Scottish Opera, English Touring Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera and Glyndebourne on Tour, among other companies. He has also conducted the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
Before joining Opera North in 2004, Farnes had conducted The Secret Marriage, The Marriage of Figaro, Joan of Arc, La Traviata, Eugene Onegin, Gloriana and Tosca for the company, as well as the world première of The Nightingale's to Blame by Simon Holt. The operas he has conducted since becoming Music Director include La rondine, Salome, Falstaff, Macbeth, Katya Kabanova and the award-winning Peter Grimes.
He is due to relinquish his post with Opera North following the 2015-16 season
- Bluebeard's Castle (Chandos Opera in English), with John Tomlinson, Sally Burgess and the Orchestra of Opera North
- Rupert Christiansen: "The accidental maestro", Telegraph.co.uk, 26 April, 2005
- Biography at www.operanorth.co.uk
- Leeks, Stuart (ed) (2003). Opera North @ 25. Leeds: Opera North.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
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