Susan Graham

Mezzo-Soprano

Biography

Susan Graham – hailed as “an artist to treasure” by the New York Times – rose to the highest echelon of international performers within just a few years of her professional debut, mastering an astonishing range of repertoire and genres along the way. Her operatic roles span four centuries, from Monteverdi’s Poppea to Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, which was written especially for her. She won a Grammy Award for her collection of Ives songs, and her recital repertoire is so broad that 14 composers from Purcell to Sondheim are represented on her most recent Onyx album, Virgins, Vixens & Viragos. This distinctly American artist has also been recognized throughout her career as one of the foremost exponents of French vocal music. Although a native of Texas, Graham was awarded the French government’s prestigious “Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur,” both for her popularity as a performer in France and in honor of her commitment to French music.

To launch the 2016-17 season, Graham joined Renée Fleming and Michael Tilson Thomas at the San Francisco Symphony’s opening-night gala, before stepping in to play Dido in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s new, premiere staging of Berlioz’s epic Les Troyens. Having created the role of Sister Helen Prejean in the world premiere production of Dead Man Walking, she stars in Washington National Opera’s revival of the opera, now making her role debut as the convict’s mother. She returns to Santa Fe Opera in the plum “trouser” role of Prince Orlofsky, in the company’s first new production of Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus in 25 years, and sings Erika in Samuel Barber’s Vanessa with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. Also in concert, she joins the MET Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen at Carnegie Hall for selections from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn; sings Octavian to Renée Fleming’s Marschallin in Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier with the Boston Symphony and Andris Nelsons; performs selections from Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin; reprises Berlioz’s La mort de Cléopâtre with the San Antonio Symphony; and sings Ravel’s Shéhérazade and Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with the Sydney Symphony under David Robertson. In recital, she reunites with regular partner Malcolm Martineau for accounts of “Frauenliebe und -leben Variations,” her wide-ranging program inspired by Schumann’s iconic song cycle, in Santa Barbara, Baltimore, and Portland, Oregon.

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Reviews

“Susan Graham was a joy to watch and to hear: she delivered her lines with boldness, majesty and precision, highlighting both the most delicate and the most tyrannical aspects of the Persian king. Her performance was practically flawless: hearing her delivering such complex ornamentation for over three hours made her seem super-human.”

Marina Romani

Musicalcriticism.com

“This show also has a star, singing one of her signature roles: Susan Graham, an American mezzo who has virtually taken over a part that used to be sung mainly by sopranos. The richness and detail of her singing was such that when she moved from recitative to aria, it seemed that the flow of melody merely changed its form, not its intensity. She gave the rather amiable, major-key music of Iphigénie’s big Act II lament a melancholic serenity that was perfect for the scene, the score and the moment. But I didn’t entirely buy the show’s well-articulated view of the heroine as a naïve girl-woman; she has already cut a lot of throats by the time we meet her.”

Robert Everett-Green

The Globe and Mail