Born in New York and raised in Massachusetts, Christine Whittlesey began her piano studies at the age of five and ten years later her voice training. She attended the Boston and New England Conservatories and Tufts University, studying with Iride Pilla and John Moriarty. After winning the Metropolitan Opera Auditions (New England) at age 21 she became soprano soloist with the New York Pro Musica Antiqua. First professional opera engagements in Boston, Santa Fe and Washington. In 1981 she moved to Germany, singing opera in Berlin, Gelsenkirchen, Basel (favorite roles Konstanze, Susanne). Much in demand for contemporary music, she sang often with Pierre Boulez, Michael Gielen and Peter Keuschnig as frequent soloist with the Ensemble Modern (Frankfurt), the Ensemble Intercontemporain (Paris), the London Sinfonietta, the Ensembles Kontrapunkte and Klangforum (Vienna). Several of her leading roles were in the world premieres of Olga Neuwirth‘s opera “Bählamms Fest“, Wolfram Wagner‘s “Wenn der Teufel tanzt“, Hugo Käch‘s “Paracelsus“, and Gerhard Schedl‘s “Riesen, Zwerge, Menschenfresser“.
In concert she has sung world premieres of works by Sofia Gubaidulina, Wolfgang Rihm, Gerhard Schedl, Harrison Birtwistle, Johannes Maria Staud, Wolfram Wagner, and many others. Orchestras with which she has sung include the Vienna Symphony, the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Hessian Radio Orchestra, the BBC Symphony, the Netherlands Radio Orchestra, the Südwestfunkorchester. Further conductors with whom she has worked include Helmuth Rilling, Riccardo Muti, Kryzsztof Penderecki, Kent Nagano, Ingo Metzmacher, Friedrich Cerha, and Christian Thielemann. As Lied soloist her partners have included Gidon Kremer, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Oleg Maisenberg, Rainer Keuschnig, and Robert Levin. She has been a performer at many of the renowned music festivals, such as Wien Modern, the Wiener Festwochen, Lockenhaus, the Salzburg Festival, as well as the Ruhrtriennale, the Wittener Musiktage, in Donaueschingen and Darmstadt, at the Steirischer Herbst, Styriarte, the Klangspuren Schwaz, the Carinthischer Sommer, the Edinburgh and Spoleto Festivals, and the Kobe Festival in Japan. Among her many CD recordings are Schönberg‘s String Quartet No.2 and Kurtág‘s “Scenes from a Novel“. Her recording of Mahler‘s Symphony No. 4 received the Grand Prix du Disque. She sang the female lead in the Straub-Huillet film production of Schönberg‘s opera “Von heute auf morgen“.
Since 1991 she has been Professor of Lied and Oratorio at the University of Music and Performings Arts Graz.