Susanna Phillips



Alabama-born soprano Susanna Phillips, recipient of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2010 Beverly Sills Artist Award, has established herself as one of today’s most sought-after singing actors and recitalists.

In the 2020-2021 season, Ms. Phillips returns to Santa Fe Opera as Lucy Harker in the world premiere of John Corigliano’s The Lord of Cries. She also gives a recital at the 92nd Street Y featuring Schubert’s Der Hirt auf dem Felsen, alongside clarinetist Anthony McGill and pianist Myra Huang, and joins the Oratorio Society of New York in a virtual performance of Handel’s Messiah. Previously scheduled engagements include performances at the Metropolitan Opera as Micaela in Carmen, as well as a concert with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center featuring music by Handel and Copland, performances of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 2 with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and a recital tour alongside mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke featuring music exclusively by female composers. Additionally, the month of February is marked by the release of a new CD with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, featuring Berg’s Sieben Frühe Lieder, from a recording made in 2018.

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“Soprano Susanna Phillips draws big laughs and spins yard upon yard of silken coloratura as the haughty Arminda, who sets her cap for a handsome count, the disguised Belfiore.”

John von Rhein

The Chicago Tribune

“But Streshinsky also elicited some wonderfully vivid performances on Saturday night, starting with Susanna Phillips in the title role, vocally riveting, dramatically confident and with power in reserve. Her “Pensieri voi mi tormentate,” in which this queen of deception movingly admits to her own fears, brought some of the evening’s best singing, with Phillips’s plaintive cries eloquently echoed by the solo oboe (Marc Schachman).”

Jeremy Eichler

The Boston Globe

More Reviews

“‘The soloist in the Poulenc, soprano Susanna Phillips, added an extraordinary dimension to the performance. Few voices can fill the still-cavernous Davies Hall (reduced in size during a reconstruction) the way Phillips does, with an uncanny projection that doesn’t depend on volume. It’s difficult to describe what Phillips does because her performance is deceptively simple. The voice — beautiful, accurate — is not pushed or audibly supported, it is “invisibly projected.””

Janos Gereben, San Francisco Classical Voice 

“[S]oprano Susanna Phillips sounded glorious in both the Poulenc and the Fauré, singing with a blend of vigor, expressive depth and tonal splendor.”

Joshua Kosman, The San Francisco Chronicle 

“The soprano ended with the popular “Der Hirt auf dem Felsen” (“The Shepherd on the Rock”), the last of Schubert’s more than 600 songs, composed a month before his death. Words and music took on touching immediacy in the freshness and nuance of Phillips’ delivery, also the seamless musical dialog in which she and Yeh connected melting legato phrases in partnership with Huang’s rippling pianism.”

John von Rhein, The Chicago Tribune 

“The soprano Susanna Phillips had what could be a breakthrough night at the Met as Fiordiligi, who is betrothed to Guglielmo. She has the purity and bloom of a Mozart lyric soprano. Yet her voice can lift phrases with penetrating sound and deep richness. She was especially exquisite in the poignant aria “Per pietà” (“Have pity”), when Fiordiligi shamefully realizes that she is weakening to the romantic entreaties of a stranger who is actually her sister’s lover in disguise.”

Anthony Tommassini, The New York Times 

“Perhaps the best-established singer here was the Countess, Susanna Phillips, heard just a week before at the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado as Ellen Orford in Britten’s “Peter Grimes.” Her touchstone aria in “Figaro,” “Dove sono” (“Where are the lovely moments”), was a model, delivered straightforwardly at first, then in a gripping half-voice and with melting ornamentation in the da capo repeat.”

The New York Times 

“Stella is an ideal role for the splendid soprano Susanna Phillips, who sang with plush sound and tenderness. “

Anthony Tommassini, The New York TImes 

“Her sister Stella was played by rising star soprano Susanna Phillips. Hers is a stunningly smooth voice that complimented and even competed with her co-star. Her best work came in the first act as she describes the torment of waiting for her man.”

Jake Johansen, 

“When you sing as beautifully as the young soprano Susanna Phillips does, it almost seems like gilding the lily to spread those gifts around through a range of unusual and provocative repertoire, not to mention working with a pianist of remarkable artistry.”

Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle 

“But it was five songs from Messiaen’s Poèmes pour Mi that, I think, fully suggested how far Phillips will go. Here, she manipulated her sound to suggest Ravel, various voice characterizations, and orchestral instruments. She was five singers in one, and totally at home.”

Peter Dobrin, Philadelphia Inquirer 

“Susanna Phillips…demonstrates rare stylistic fluency, canny pathos, and dynamic finesse. Susanna Phillips. Remember the name.”

Financial Times

“Susanna Phillips sparkled as the sassy Musetta, her bright, nimble soprano tinged with a coquettish flair. She managed to make an impression amid the claustrophobic distractions of Act II…”

Vivien Schweitzer, The New York Times 

““Susanna Phillips, whom I had seen as Musetta in 2008, is now even better. She captures Musetta’s flightiness and coquetry but also her warm and loving nature. She has a rich velvety soprano, agile and blooming at the top. She was simply entrancing.” “

Arlene Judith Klotzko, 

“The impressive young American soprano Susanna Phillips was the soloist in two Mozart arias: “Non mi dir” from “Don Giovanni” and the concert aria “Bella mia fiamma … Resta, o cara.” Her warm, shimmering voice carried beautifully in the hall from her place on the front of the extended stage; her phrasing and expressivity were lovely. She received a heartening ovation and seemed elated to be part of this high-visibility concert. She deserved this opportunity.””

Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times 

“Phillips filled Avery Fisher Hall with a lovely, sensuous, and consistently even tone – the kind of sound one can listen to for a long time without ever tiring. Her voice soared assuredly over the orchestra in the Don Giovanni selection… and she knocked off Donna Anna’s challenging coloratura passagework with ease. Best of all, her humanity shone through – she registered as a real person, who happens to have a gorgeous voice, struggling with a difficult situation, but free of operatic artifice.”

Richard Termine, Opera News 

“[Phillips] is an attractive, splendidly musical singer in her own right, and the sheer beauty of her singing earned the Ryan Opera Center alumna clamorous rounds of applause at Lyric’s first “Lucia” of the season Monday night at the Civic Opera House… At Monday’s performance she traced the florid trills, runs, roulades and other embellishments with uncanny agility, tonal allure, smoothness of legato and evenness of tonal production. Her expression turned rapturous as she imagined joining Edgardo at the altar, only to turn anguished as she asks her absent lover to pour tears on her grave. Such technical aplomb allied to such radiant sound is a precious commodity in a Lucia.””

John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune 

“Filling out the cast was Susanna Phillips who sang fabulously and was just the right amount of obnoxious for the coquettish Musetta, believably shifting to a caring friend at Mimi’s deathbed.”

Caitlin McKechney, The Classical Review 

“Mr. Filas put his most attractive music in a sweet, often soaring soprano line, to which Susanna Phillips brought a beautiful, velvety tone and dignified, carefully shaped phrasing.””

Allan Kozinn, The New York Times 

“Arriving in a blaze of vocal glory, Susanna Phillips’ Donna Anna seems incapable of an unlovely sound or inelegant phrase.”

Scott Cantrell, The Dallas Morning News 

“Susanna Phillips … introduced a fearless brilliance in the role of Donna Anna.””

Wayne Lee Gay, D magazine (Dallas) 

“Susanna Phillips triumphed as Donna Anna; in ‘Non mi dir’ her clear, polished soprano was first shaded with grief and regret, then brightened with hope. Rapid florid passages were etched and buoyant.””

Chris Shull, Fort Worth Star-Telegram 

“American-born soprano Susanna Phillips sang two arias, “Non mi dir,” from “Don Giovanni,” and a concert aria, “Bella mia fiamma… resta, o cara,” written while Mozart was in Prague for the premiere of “Don G.”… Both pieces are fiendishly difficult but you would not know that from the ravishing way Phillips sang them.””

Howard Kissel, The Huffington Post 

“The arias that followed (“Regnava nel silenzio”, “Quando, rapito in estasi”) catapulted Phillips into coloratura, the realm of warbling trills, acrobatic scale runs and stratospheric high notes. She performed with musical assurance and dramatic confidence, filling Samford’s Wright Center with huge sound and bigger-than-life presence. This is a remarkable singer, supple, evenly resonant at all ranges, capable of effortless power or a touching sotto voce.”

Michael Huebner, The Birmingham News 

“I was pleased to see Phillips, an alumna of Lyric’s Ryan Opera Center whose American career is now firmly launched, getting star billing at her alma mater. Her creamy soprano voice and charming character projection are a good fit with Adina… Phillips’ second-act aria, in which the heroine regrets her behavior to Nemorino’s face, was touchingly sung, with lovely tonal shadings and coloratura.” “

John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune 

“Susanna Phillips is a wonderfully talented young artist, and the first soprano to win the Sills award. I’m sure Beverly would be thrilled. With her gorgeous voice and charming presence, Susanna is a perfect example of the kind of young singer Karl and I wanted to support with this award.” “

arts patron Agnes Varis, The Metropolitan Opera 

“Soprano Susanna Phillips, winner of the $50,000 Beverly Sills Award last month as the ‘most promising young performer’ at the Met, was a splendid Donna Anna, entering with a scream after the don breaks into her bedroom. She declares undying vengeance upon him after he kills her father, the Commendatore, who has shown up to defend her. Phillips filled the house with her plush, velvety voice and floated some breathtaking pianissimos along the way.” “

Leonard Eureka, Fort Worth Weekly 

“Most outstanding is Alabama native Susanna Phillips, who plays the part of Rosina, the Countess. In the third act, Phillips’ character, Rosina, gives a plaintive aria, ‘Dove sono i bei momenti’, in which she wonders whether there is hope left for her marriage to the count … Phillips’ delivery was the transcendent moment of the evening.””

Janet Elizabeth Simpson, Pavo magazine 

“The baritone Nathan Gunn, a Met favorite who was in excellent voice, was joined by two rising singers in their 20s: the impressively gifted soprano Susanna Phillips and the intensely expressive tenor Michael Fabiano… Mr. Kelly took over at the piano for Ms. Phillips, who sang a plush-toned, sensitive account of “Non mi dir” from ‘Don Giovanni,’ then, joined by Mr. Gunn, a playful rendition of the duet ‘Là ci darem la mano’… Ms. Phillips also proved herself in American song, winning a huge ovation for her impassioned performance of ‘Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man’ from ‘Show Boat.”

Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times 

“Two of the opera’s tenderest moments came from the sumptuous voice of soprano Susanna Phillips. As Countess Almaviva, the Alabama native sang grievously about her husband’s estrangement in “Porgi, amor.” Her rendition of ‘Dove sono’ rested in pure beauty, and garnered the evening’s longest applause”

Michael Huebner, Birmingham News 

“The soprano, this year’s winner of the Met’s Beverly Sills Artist Award for young professional singers, sparkled in the waltz song from Gounod’s ‘Romeo et Juliette,’ elegantly turning out the aria’s elaborate scales and a ringing high C … Phillips stole the show with a jazzy, ‘American Idol’-ready ‘Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man.”

James Jorden, New York Post 

“Susanna Phillips as Eurydice was a fantastic surprise. The twenty-nine year-old soprano has found much success since her 2005 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions win. With a golden voice, full of warmth and richness, she was able to beautifully maneuver through Gluck’s Baroque/ Classical style with finesse and ease. Considering she has much experience with Mozart, singing Donna Anna, Donna Elvira, Pamina, and the Countess, she executed refined tapered phrasing. Her breath agility was truly surprising during her Act III duet with Orpheo, where the voices are in perfect harmony. Shading her tone to complement Mr. Daniels was executed beautifully, both voices swelled and tapered through the harmonies, revealing beautiful simplicity in the straighter tones implemented.”

Sarah Luebke, Opera Today 

“Phillips has a captivating, creamy, clear lyric voice … A highlight was Schubert’s Der Hirt auf dem Felsen (Shepherd on the Rock) with Todd Levy on clarinet and Jeffrey Peterson on piano. This was the best performance I’ve encountered in 30 years of hearing this standard chamber work. Levy and Phillips gracefully and playfully passing phrases to one another was high pleasure. Earlier in the program Phillips’ tender, gleaming vocal tone was heard in an arrangement of a song by Jules Massenet, “Amours Benis.””

Rick Walters, Express Milwaukee 

“Susanna Phillips triumphed as Donna Anna; in “Non mi dir” her clear, polished soprano was first shaded with grief and regret, then brightened with hope. Rapid florid passages were etched and buoyant.”

Chris Shull, The Star Telegram 

“The arias also gave the audience an extra opportunity to savor the talents of Susanna Phillips, an Alabama-born singer with some impressive prizes and performance credits to her name. She’s the real deal, a soprano who can produce a consistently appealing tone that, even with some thinning in the lower register, never loses its silken finish, and who can get to the heart of a phrase. A case in point was the eloquent way that Phillips sculpted the lines of “Vado, ma dove?”

Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun 

“Susanna Phillips’s pellucid soprano voice, heard in an excellent recital earlier in the week, seemed optimally suited to Mahler’s last movement… Phillips sang the solo with gorgeous, well-supported clarity, a shining, simple but not colorless sound, limpid and calm on the mysterious chords of “Sankt Peter im Himmel sieht zu,” which return as a refrain.”

Charles T. Downey, The Washington Post 

“Susanna Phillips offered a charming portrayal of Pamina, singing with a clear, bright and elegant soprano and affecting sadness in the aria “Ach, ich fühl’s” when she worries that Tamino doesn’t love her.”

Vivien Schweitzer, The New York Times 

“Susanna Phillips sings gloriously as Donna Elvira, her upper range gleaming, her phrases suavely shaped.”

Scott Cantrell, The Dallas Morning News 

“Susanna Phillips has been the company’s resident Mozart soprano for the last three seasons, and returns in the exceptionally difficult role of Donna Elvira. She is deliciously overbrimming with impetuosity, portraying this character who never felt an emotion that didn’t find its expression in high drama. Phillips exhibits a sleek sensuality in Elvira’s comic (to us) frustrations with the Don’s intentions. In Mi tradi (That ungrateful man) her bright tone athletically bounds through the many leaps and runs.”

D.S. Crafts, ABQ Journal 

“Susanna Phillips made Donna Elvira, who often comes across as a shrew or idiot, both plaintive and passionate. Elvira is the least self-interested of all the characters, and Phillips pointed that up cleverly. Her soprano poured out lucidly, lovingly and longingly, shimmering with the sound of someone who is all woman and all heart.”

Craig Smith, Santa Fe New Mexican 

“It was the voice of soprano Susanna Phillips that lit up the Alabama Theatre brighter than the ball in Times Square… Phillips is, simply, an extraordinary talent.” “

Michael Huebner, Birmingham News 

““[Phillips] gave a raptly beautiful, deeply affecting account of Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville, Summer of 1915,” along with songs by Georgi Sztojanov and CUBE founder and member Patricia Morehead. Lawrence Axelrod’s “Mandala #5,” a world premiere, was a Zen-like meditation for string quartet based on minimalist repetition of baby-simple tonal materials.”

John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune 

“So here are a few of the past year’s best dramatic/operatic performances, which could hold their own, frankly, against those of any actor in town: Susanna Philips (at left) – Donna Anna, Don Giovanni, Boston Lyric Opera. Luminously sung and poignantly acted, I think this may have been the most memorable operatic performance of the year.” “

Thomas Garvey, Hub Review 

“Top-flight singers were cast for this gorgeous score – most notably soprano Susanna Phillips, singing Donna Anna.”

Keith Powers, Boston Herald 

“The Countess’ wounded dignity is admirably realized by Susanna Phillips, whose warm, ample tone fills even the Music Hall’s vast reaches. Her achingly gorgeous “Dove sono” would melt the hardest heart.”

Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News 

“Phillips, giving her final Alabama performance before her Metropolitan Opera debut in December, scaled the heights of Strauss’ “Four Last Songs” with elegance and sensitivity. The sublime music was handled reverently by a sophisticated Phillips, whose approach was both gentle and patient – never forced.”

David Ragsdale, Huntsville Times 

“As the Countess, young soprano Susanna Phillips proved a major find. The aria ‘Porgi Amor,’ sung with limpid tone, was nicely detailed, not the warm-up exercise it sometimes is, and “Dove sono” was also excellent, with a lovely pianissimo in the slow section’s reprise.”

George Loomis, 

“…And Susanna Phillips steals the show with a gentle yet powerful soprano voice and an endearing characterization…an expert with the larynx-stretching ornamentation of the period…”

Rob Hubbard, 

“…Of the singers, the Elmira of Susanna Phillips was the standout. She had an attractive soprano and a dazzling facility for coloratura. She was also a powerful actress, becoming the emotional center of the opera and giving the frequently superficial music real heart…”

William Randall Beard, 

“Of the four principals in Santa Fe Opera’s production of Mozart’s ”Cosi fan tutte,” Huntsville soprano Susanna Phillips deservedly garnered the warmest applause and the loudest shouts of ”brava.” Her performances as Fiordiligi under the soaring covered pavilion have earned stellar press notices to boot… For suppleness, clarity and emotive power, Susanna Phillips outperformed the rest of the cast. Her control and precision came through best in the Act 2 aria, ”Per pieta,” in which her coloratura ornaments flowed freely, naturally and precisely.”

Michael Huebner, Birmingham News 

“Susanna Phillips is a glorious Fiordiligi, her soprano honeyed and agile…”

Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News 

“Soprano Susanna Phillips and mezzo Katharine Goeldner as the two sisters, Fiordiligi and Dorabella, capture the characters wonderfully with voices of a similar timbre, heartily visceral, the mezzo only slightly darker in tone. Consequently, they blend seamlessly in ensemble. Phillips’ flexible soprano is inspiring as she leaps, literally, the many formidable vocal hurdles that await in Come soglio (Standing like a rock impervious).”

D.S. Crafts, Albuquerque Journal 

“Deserving special note is soprano Susanna Phillips [Fiordiligi], who has one bravura moment after another.”

Kyle MacMillan, Denver Post 

“Soprano Susanna Phillips sailed through the proud Fiordiligi’s arias with a long, firm breath and what seemed to be complete control; like all the singers, she not only knew what the Italian words meant, she projected the emotions that produced them. The voice is big and creamy, and Phillips managed it well from the softest whisper to a trumpet-like battle cry.”

Craig Smith, Santa Fe New Mexican 

“Soprano Susanna Phillips [was given] further chances to shine…in a charming waltz-song from Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette. Another highlight was a duet from the Gounod opera in which Phillips and tenor Bryan Griffin made a youthful, stylish pair of star-crossed lovers.”

John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

“She…sang beauti¬fully. Her ample soprano proved bright yet mellow, with a good dynamic range and intrinsically lovely tone. Her soft, high singing was poised, effortless, and absolutely exquisite — golden gossamer shot with silver.”

Craig Smith, The Santa Fe New Mexican

“Susanna Phillips brought warmth and suppleness, as well as an attractively dark tone, to the soprano lines.”

Allan Kozinn, The New York Times

“In the “Agnus Dei,” Phillips achieved a soaring fortissimo that was worthy of an aria.”

Valerie Scher, The Union Tribune

“Phillips’ voice is strikingly even across all registers, with a hint of brightness hovering like a halo and a haunting sotto voce. Balancing power with control isn’t easy for young singers, but she’s done it, and that bodes well for a long operatic career… It was clear from the opening notes of Charpentier’s “Depuis le jour” that she possesses a naturally radiant voice and knows how to use it to dramatic effect.”

Michael Huebner, Birmingham News

“Barber’s Knoxville Summer of 1915 featured an affecting solo performance by the young soprano Susanna Phillips.”

Jeremy Eichler, New York Times

“Phillips sang her solos beautifully, nailing away some searingly difficult high notes with great skill in the song ‘Dulcissime.”

Donna Fork, Huntsville Times

“Susanna Phillips, fresh from her portrayal of the Countess in last week’s The Marriage of Figaro, was the expressive soprano soloist in this movement. From the first note, she inhabited Mahler’s sweet vision vocally and dramatically…”

Peter Frisch, Santa Barbara News Press

“Susanna Phillips, the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro on the previous weekend, delivered the soprano line with exquisitely expressive face and voice, embodying Mahler’s exalted vision.”

Margo Kline, Goleta Valley Voice

“Soprano Susanna Phillips, singing the long-suffering Countess…delivered highly poignant accounts of “Porgi amor” and “Dove sono” (the latter reprised in gorgeous half-tone). Her contribution in the letter duet (with a charming double-cadenza ending) was lovely beyond words.”

Truman C. Wang, Classical Voice