• Born 1958
Often appears with
One of several international singing stars in her time from the musically rich nation of Finland, mezzo-soprano Monica Groop emerged as a leading operatic figure in the 1990s. With an orientation toward Germanic repertory rather than Italian, she is also highly active on the recital and concert stages.
Groop's musical education culminated at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. In the 1986 summer season she participated in the Savonlinna Opera, then joined the Finnish National Opera. Her professional operatic debut was with that company in 1987 as Charlotte, the leading female character in Massenet's Werther. During her time on the Finnish National Opera's roster she sang the parts of Olga in Tchaikovsky's Evgeny Onegin, Dorabella in Mozart's Così fan tutte, Sesto in his La clemenza di Tito, and Octavian in Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier.
In 1989, Groop entered the famous Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in Wales and attracted attention as a finalist. She began her emergence in the international scene at about that time, especially with performances as Cherubino in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro in the 1991 Aix-en-Provence Festival and in the same year debuted at Covent Garden in the Royal Opera's production of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, as Wellgunde and Waltraute.
Her stardom is not the result of one dramatic star-making appearance, but she considers 1994 her breakout year. It was on the recital stage that she gained major international recognition with her debuts at Carnegie Hall in New York and Wigmore Hall in London, the most important recital venues of their respective countries. The New York Times wrote "A new mezzo has joined the star parade." In the same year she was invited back to Covent Garden in the role of Varvara in Janácek's Káta Kabanová.
The Times review was taking cognizance of the presence of an unusual number of important mezzo-sopranos currently active. Following the success of Cecilia Bartoli, there has been a reawakening of interest in the lower female voice range, manifested in such things as the tendency to return to the original mezzo-soprano parts for many leading Rossini heroines, and resumption of the use of female mezzos in heroic roles in many Baroque operas.
Groop's statements suggest that she sees the presence of other mezzos of similar international stature in a positive way, giving her an opportunity to specialize in the repertory most congenial to her. "The bel canto tradition is not close to me," she has said (referring to the style of operatic singing most associated with Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti), "and Bartoli and Larmore are brilliant practitioners of that side of things. I have sung a great deal of Mozart, and now I am ready for Strauss."
Accordingly, in 1995 she added the Straussian role of the Composer (Ariadne auf Naxos) to her repertory in performances in Frankfurt. In the same year she made worldwide news by her portrayal of Debussy's Mélisande in a controversial production staged by Peter Sellars in Los Angeles.
Since then she has been in such demand that she spends nearly 300 days a year away from her home. She has made over 40 recordings with major labels such as Decca, Sony Classics, Harmonia Mundi, CPO, Accent, Chandos, BIS, and Finlandia. Her recorded repertory includes music of composers as diverse as Bach, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Haydn, Grieg, Sibelius, Vivaldi, Sarasate, Kálmán, Madetoja, and Pettersson. They include the first recordings of Vivaldi's Ottone and Donizetti's Linda di Chamounix. She has appeared in the world's major opera houses, and in concert with the greatest conductors and orchestras, including both standard ensembles and original instruments groups.