CHRISTOPHER JAMES RAY
Christopher James Ray is a conductor with a diverse background in both traditional and contemporary operatic works. He is currently Resident Conductor at Opera San José and an assistant with the San Francisco Symphony. In 2017, Ray joined the music staff of the renowned Bayreuth Festival where he worked on productions of Der Fliegende Holländer, Lohengrin, Götterdämmerung, Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Parsifal.
In the 2020-21 season, Ray planned performances of Opera San José’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Carmen, Salome, and West Side Story as well as debuts with the Lima Symphony Orchestra and Music Academy of the West. In place of the previously planned season, Ray worked with Opera San José to create variety of filmed performances included Schumann’s Dichterliebe, Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers, Tom Cipullo’s The Husbands, and others to be announced soon.
Other recent performances at Opera San José have included Il trovatore, Hansel and Gretel, Die Fledermaus, Heggie/Scheer’s Moby Dick, and Pagliacci.
Ray made his professional conducting debut leading a double bill of Gianni Schicchi and Pagliacci with the Mississippi Opera in 2014. Later that year he conducted performances of Cosi fan tutte, Suor Angelica, and Gianni Schicchi with Opera in the Ozarks. Additional conducting credits include Copland’s The Tender Land, Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, Handel’s Alcina, Nico Muhly’s Dark Sisters, Heggie's Three Decembers, Glass’ In the Penal Colony, and Britten's The Beggar's Opera.
As assistant conductor, Ray has worked with the Salzburg State Theater (Brokeback Mountain), North Carolina Opera (La bohème, Così fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro), Sarasota Opera (Le nozze di Figaro, Don Carlos), Opera on the James (Carmen), Opera on the Avalon (Die Zauberflöte), Syracuse Opera (Die Fledermaus) as well as the Memphis Symphony and Portland (ME) Symphony.
A protege of American composer Carlisle Floyd, Ray is a sought-after interpreter of Floyd's works. In addition to serving as the assistant to the composer, Ray recorded an album of Floyd’s songs with the celebrated mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer. It is available through GPR Records on the Naxos label.
Ray is native of Sumrall, Mississippi and is a graduate of Florida State University where he studied with Douglas Fisher and Carlisle Floyd.