French soprano Sandrine Piau initially established her reputation in Baroque repertory, most notably in the operas of Handel (Tamerlano, Xerxes, and others). But she quickly branched out into the Mozart operas, scoring numerous triumphs in such roles as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte and Servilia in La Clemenza di Tito. She has hardly limited herself to the Baroque and Classical periods, however, and her repertory encompasses the Brahms Requiem, Massenet's Werther, Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Prokofiev's The Love for Three Oranges, Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier, as well as other nineteenth and twentieth century staples. Piau possesses a small but versatile and quite lovely lyric-coloratura soprano voice, consistently even in range and exuding a sense of warmth.
Sandrine Piau was born in the southwestern Paris suburb of Issy-les-Moulineaux on June 5, 1965. She studied at Collège Lamartine and the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique du Paris, where she received several citations and prizes for her vocal interpretations in Baroque and other repertory. She also became proficient on the harp.
By the late '80s her career was on the ascent and soon she was invited to appear in concerts led by some of Europe's leading conductors, including Philippe Herreweghe, William Christie, Gustav Leonhardt, Renè Jacobs, and many others. She also began singing regularly in the more prestigious opera houses at home and abroad: at the Grand Théâtre de Genève she sang Ismène in Mozart's Mitridate and at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées she scored a great success as Pamina. Piau has also appeared at Covent Garden, the Amsterdam Opera, and at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.
She began to gain international acclaim for her recordings in the 1990s. Among her more successful early efforts was a pair of William Christie-led performances: Handel's Messiah on Harmonia Mundi (1994) and Purcell's King Arthur on Erato (1995) both demonstrated her superior talent in Baroque music.
For the 1999-2000 opera season Piau added another role to her growing list when she sang Aennchen in Weber's Der Freischutz. In the new century she has sung Zdenka in Strauss' Arabella and Nannetta in Verdi's Falstaff, among others. Other recordings have included the 2006 releases of Mozart's Mass in C minor, under conductor Emmanuel Krivine, the all-Vivaldi disc In furore, Laudate pueri e concerti sacri, with conductor Ottavio Dantone, both on the Naïve label, and Frank Martin's Le vin herbé, conducted by Daniel Reuss, for Harmonia Mundi. In 2006 the French government honored her as Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.