Marlis Petersen

Marlis Petersen


• Born 1968


Soprano Marlis Petersen is an unusually versatile singer, whose repertory includes lieder, concert works, and contemporary opera as well as coloratura works. For some years, she was identified with the role of Lulu in Berg's opera of the same name.

Petersen was born February 3, 1968, in Sindelfingen, near Stuttgart, and grew up mostly in Tuttlingen in far southwestern Germany. She took singing lessons at the Musikhochschule Stuttgart and also jazz dance classes at the New York City Dance School there. Her first major engagement came in 1994 at the Städtische Bühnen in Nuremberg, where she sang roles by Mozart, Carl Maria von Weber, and Richard Strauss, among others. In 1998, Petersen moved to the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf and Duisburg. Her repertory expanded into Italian opera by Donizetti and others; she remained part of the company until 2003. Petersen sang the role of Lulu for the first time in 2002 at the Vienna State Opera; she subsequently performed the role in ten different productions in some of the world's top opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Bavarian State Opera. She made a pair of appearances at the Salzburg Festival in 2006 and 2008, both times in Mozart operas.

The 2010s saw Petersen emphasize contemporary opera, such as Hans Werner Henze's Phaedra, and Aribert Reimann's Medea, at the Vienna State Opera. Her work in this Medea earned a "Singer of the Year" award from Opernwelt magazine, her second (the first was in 2004 for her performance of Lulu at the Hamburg State Opera). She has also made several tours as a lieder performer. Petersen has a substantial catalog of recordings on the Harmonia Mundi, Arcana, and Capriccio labels, many focusing on lieder. In 2019, she was heard on a recording that reconstructed Beethoven's 1805 opera Leonore, the forerunner version of Fidelio, Op. 72, conducted by René Jacobs.