Possessing a voice of uncommon allure, musical sophistication far beyond her years, and intuitive and innate dramatic artistry, the Grammy® Award-winning mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor has emerged as one of the most compelling performers of her generation. During the 2013-14 season, the California native’s impressive calendar includes John Adams’s The Gospel According to the Other Mary with Grant Gershon conducting the Ravinia Festival Orchestra, the world premiere of John Harbison’s Crossroads with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra conducted by Edo de Waart, Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra led by Joana Carneiro, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic. Miss O’Connor joins Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra for an international tour giving performances of Beethoven’s Mass in C, a work that also serves for her return to the San Francisco Symphony under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas. She will collaborate with Vladimir Jurowski for the first time in performances of John Adams’s El Niño with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The artist returns to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody led by Donald Runnicles as well as to the National Symphony Orchestra in performances of El amor brujo conducted by the venerable Spanish maestro, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. In a US recital tour, Kelley O’Connor is joined by soprano Jessica Rivera and pianist Robert Spano for concerts at Carnegie Hall, Cal Performances in Berkeley, Kennesaw State University, and Cincinnati’s Constella Festival of Music and Fine Arts.
Possessing a voice of uncommon allure, musical sophistication far beyond her years, and intuitive and innate dramatic artistry, the Grammy® Award-winning mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor has emerged as one of the most compelling performers of her generation. During the 2014-15 season, the California native’s impressive calendar includes Mozart’s Requiem with Louis Langrée and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra at Lincoln Center, Leoš Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Alan Gilbert, Debussy’s La Damoiselle élue and Duruflé’s Requiem with Donald Runnicles conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Colorado Symphony and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Mahler’s Second Symphony with the San Antonio Symphony and Reno Philharmonic. The artist returns to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for the world premiere of Christopher Theofanidis’ Creation Oratorio led by Music Director Robert Spano, as well as for Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder conducted by Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles. Miss O’Connor also returns to the operatic stage as Smeton in a new production of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena at the Lyric Opera of Chicago conducted by Patrick Summers and directed by Kevin Newbury.
Recent concert seasons include performances of Beethoven’s Mass in C during an international tour with Franz Welser- Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra, John Adams’ El Niño under the baton of Vladimir Jurowski with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, a US recital tour with soprano Jessica Rivera and pianist Robert Spano including a performance at Carnegie Hall, Ravel’s Shéhérazade with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Edinburgh Festival, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony as well as with Roberto Minczuk and the Calgary Philharmonic, Stravinsky’s Les Noces with David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony, Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony with Donald Runnicles and the Atlanta Symphony, Elgar’s Sea Pictures and Britten’s Spring Symphony with Edward Gardner and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and Mozart’s Requiem with Iván Fischer leading the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall. John Adams wrote the title role of The Gospel According to the Other Mary for Kelley O’Connor and she has performed the work, internationally, both in concert and in the Peter Sellars production, under the batons of the composer, Gustavo Dudamel, and Grant Gershon.
Miss O’Connor’s operatic highlights include performances of Suzuki in Madama Butterfly in a new production by Lillian Groag at the Boston Lyric Opera and at the Cincinnati Opera under the baton of Ramón Tebar, Ursule in Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict at Opera Boston, Meg Page in Falstaff with the Santa Fe Opera, and Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Canadian Opera Company.
Internationally, Miss O’Connor’s debuts include the Proms Festival with Jirí Belohlávek and the BBC Symphony Orchestra in performances of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony and the Edinburgh International Festival with James Conlon and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in performances of Adams’s El Niño. She has sung Lieberson’s Neruda Songs with Christoph Eschenbach and the National Symphony Orchestra, with Bernard Haitink and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as with David Zinman and the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich. In addition, she has performed Berio’s Folk Songs with Daniel Harding and the London Symphony Orchestra at the Berlin Festival and Mahler’s Third Symphony with Edo de Waart and the Hong Kong Philharmonic. She toured with Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra in performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and with Andrew Manze and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin in performances of Mendelssohn’s Elias.
Miss O’Connor has sung Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic, numerous performances with Gustavo Dudamel, including Bernstein’s “Jeremiah” Symphony on an international tour with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony with the Simón Bolívar Orchestra, excerpts from Roussel’s Padmâvatî and the world premiere of a vocal work written for Miss O’Connor by the legendary Indian musician, Zakir Hussain, in performances with Christoph Eschenbach and the National Symphony Orchestra, Ravel’s L'enfant et les sortilèges with Lorin Maazel and the New York Philharmonic, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Bernard Haitink and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Weill’s Die sieben Todsünden with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Stravinsky’s Les Noces with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The artist enjoys a rich musical collaboration with Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra with whom she has sung Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Bernstein’s “Jeremiah” Symphony, staged performances of Falstaff both in Cleveland and at the Lucerne Festival, and Stravinsky’s Requiem Canticles.
Kelley O’Connor has received unanimous international, critical acclaim for her numerous performances as Federico García Lorca in Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar. Miss O'Connor created the role for the world premiere at Tanglewood, under the baton of Robert Spano, and subsequently joined Miguel Harth-Bedoya for performances of Golijov’s piece with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. She reprised her “musically seductive, palpably charismatic” (Washington Post) portrayal of Lorca in the world-premiere of the revised edition of Ainadamar at the Santa Fe Opera in a new staging by Peter Sellars during the 2005 season, which was also presented at New York City’s Lincoln Center and Madrid’s Teatro Real. For her debut with the Atlanta Symphony in Ainadamar, she joined Robert Spano for performances and a Grammy® Award-winning Deutsche Grammophon recording. Her discography also includes Lieberson’s Neruda Songs with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony as well as Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra, both for Deutsche Grammophon.
SEPTEMBER 2014: PLEASE DESTROY PREVIOUSLY DATED MATERIALS
"Mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor cut her long hair short, a controversial move. But not only did it add to her vulnerability as Mary [in Peter Sellars's staging of John Adams's 'The Gospel According to the Other Mary'], it made her facial expressions stand out with astonishing vividness. With the help of James F. Ingalls' precise yet restrained lighting, which captured the smallest subtleties of expression, O'Connor reminded me of Renée Jeanne Falconetti in Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1928 silent film, 'The Passion of Joan of Arc,' one of the most affecting portrayals of human suffering in all art. Oscar-winning actresses could do well to study O'Connor's performance, with its shocking revelations of pain and the utterly convincing revelations of spiritual acceptance. That came through in the beauty of her singing, the way every word was given meaning, the look in her eyes and the way her hands moved. "Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times
"Kelley O'Connor's Mary [in the world premiere of John Adams's 'The Gospel According to the Other Mary'] is a great performance. This young, L.A.-trained singer has been coming into her own the last couple of years. On Thursday she arrived. Adams gives the mezzo-soprano arias of incredible richness, and O'Connor finds their inner core."Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times
"Her smoky sound and riveting stage presence made an indelible impact. "Steve Smith, The New York Times
"Her dark, low mezzo-soprano and expressive stage presence are those of a riveting singer emerged, not emerging."Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times
"She has an unexpectedly deep, entrancing voice, tinged with a sense of timelessness and exoticism."Kyle MacMillan, The Denver Post
"…haunting duskiness and piercing intensity…"Donald Rosenberg, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"She has a fine, well-modulated voice that travels easily in big spaces."Bernard Holland, The New York Times
"The standout, though, was mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor, whose Symphony debut was marked by dark, lustrous vocal tone and an arresting command of melodic phrase."Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle
"As Lorca, Kelley O'Connor's rich, velvety mezzo extended down into a gender-neutral contralto range. A young singer, she seems assured a major career."Pierre Ruhe, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"I must admit in my short life span I have not heard such a beautiful contralto tone. It has a sublime quality and luscious velvet color, rarely heard in such a low register. "Antoine François López, Music in Cincinnati
"Also impressive was another mezzo, Kelley O'Connor, who displayed her dark, smoky, and beautiful instrument. She sings super-smoothly with that instrument, too. With every appearance she makes, we see that this is a singer to be reckoned with."Jay Nordlinger, New York Sun
"Any opportunity to hear this amazing artist, whose singing is at once seductive and haunting, should not be missed."Kyle MacMillan, Denver Post
"Mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor lends a rich, French roast tone that simultaneously hits at the ear and gut level. Devotees will know this cycle … for its recording by Lieberson’s late wife, mezzo Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson (for whom this piece was also written). How luxurious to have O’Connor’s own, fully-invested and haunting account, on recording, offering another glimpse into the worlds of Lieberson’s romantically modern music and Neruda’s modern romances."Olivia Giovetti, WQXR’s Q2 “Album of the Week”