Susan Graham

Born 1960

Susan Graham

Mezzo Soprano

Biography

Graham has proven herself time and time again. More recently, she made title role debuts at theSanta Fe Opera in Offenbach’s La belle Hélène and The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein. Among an all-star cast at the Met in a revival of Berlioz’sLes Troyens, Graham also stood out. This performance was broadcast live to cinemas worldwide in HD. Also at the Met, she sang the title role in Susan Stroman’s new production of Lehár’sThe Merry Widow. That same season, she performed opposite Bryan Hymel in David McVicar’s new staging ofLes Troyens at the San Francisco Opera.

During the 2015-16 season, Graham made her role debut as Countess Geschwitz in a new production ofBerg’s Lulu at the Metropolitan Opera. There, she also starred inDie Fledermaus, under the direction of James Levine. Also, she made her role debut as Clarion in Richard Strauss’Capriccio at the Santa Fe Opera. Concert appearances during the season included a New Year’s Eve concert with the New York Philharmonic and a performance with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s for Purcell at Carnegie Hall. She also performed with the San Francisco Symphony andMichael Tilson Thomas. As a recitalist, Graham premiered her new programmeFrauenliebe und -leben Variations at Wigmore Hall with Bradley Moore during the Boston Celebrity Series. This diverse recital programme is inspired by Schumann’s song-cycle.

Susan Graham has been hailed as ‘America’s favourite mezzo’ (Gramophone) and enjoys an internationally fruitful career. Graham is one of the world’s leading opera singers and is also adept in songs and concert repertoire. She is particularly fond of French music, which she performs and records extensively, earning her the prestigious Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur from the French government. Graham has appeared with the Metropolitan, Santa Fe, Paris and San Francisco Operas as well as the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Covent Garden, La Scala, the Salzburg Festival and the Bavarian and Vienna State Operas. Furthermore, she has performed with prominent orchestras such as theNew York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Boston Symphony.

As a young professional, Graham gained most of her experience in trouser roles, including that of Cherubino inMozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. It was not long, however, before her technical mastery allowed her to sing Mozart’s larger roles, including the virtuosic roles of Sesto inLa clemenza di Tito and Idamante inIdomeneo and Cecilio. Early on, she also sang the title roles in Handel’s Ariodante and Xerxes. She expanded her repertoire with the mezzo-soprano roles in two ofRichard Strauss’ operas, namely Octavian in Der Rosenkavalierand the Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos. After these successful performances, Graham’s talent became internationally recognized, bringing her to the most prestigious opera houses worldwide.

Graham also gained attention for her interpretation of French music early on in her career, beginning with an early Lyon production ofBerlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict.It was with her fantastic performance in the title role of Massenet <>’s Chérubin at Covent Garden that sealed her fate as an opera star. Following these roles came invitations to perform the French repertoire from eminent conductors such asSir Colin Davis, Charles Dutoit, James Levine and Seiji Ozawa. She was also cast in new productions of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride, Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust and Massenet’s Werther in New York, London, Paris, Chicago and San Francisco.

Graham opened the 2016-17 season with a performance alongside Renée Fleming and Michael Tilson Thomas at the opening-night gala with the San Francisco Symphony. She also starred in a revival ofDead Man Walking. While the role of Sister Helen Prejean was created by Graham, she sang the role of the convict’s mother in the revival. With the Santa Fe Opera, Graham returned to a trouser role, playing the part of Prince Orlofsky in the company’s first new production ofJohann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus in more than two decades. She also sang Erika inSamuel Barber’s Vanessa with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin.

Her concert appearances included performances with the MET Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen at Carnegie Hall, where she sang selections from Mahler’s Das Knaben Wunderhorn; the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons, singing Octavian alongside Fleming in Richard Strauss’Der Rosenkavalier; the Philadelphia Orchestra andYannick Nézet-Séguin in selections from Canteloube’sChants d’Auvergne; the San Antonio Symphony in Berlioz’s La mort de Cléopâtre; and the Sydney Symphony and David Robertson in Ravel’s Shéhérazade and Mahler’s Symphony No. 3. She also made recital appearances with Malcom Martineau in Santa Barbara, Baltimore and Portland, Oregon.

Graham has given a number of world premieres throughout her career, including in the role of Sister Helen Prejean inDead Man Walking with the San Francisco Opera and leading roles in the Met’s world premiere productions of John Harbison’sThe Great Gatsby and Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy.

Graham is the Houston Grand Opera’s Lynn Wyatt Great Artist. In this position, she starred in the company’s first staging ofDie Fledermaus in 30 years. She also led an all-star cast as Sycorax inThe Enchanted Island with the Met. Her musical theatre debut occurred in a new productions of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and Iat the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

Graham’s hard work has resulted in a diverse and distinguished discography. In addition to operatic works and those with orchestra, she had recorded a series of critically acclaimed solo albums, includingUn frisson français with Malcolm Martineau. This album is filled with French songs and was recorded for Onyx. She also recorded an album of obscure 20th-century operetta pieces entitled C’est ça la vie, c’est ça l’amour!for Erato and La Bella Époque on Sony Classical. The latter features award-winning songs by Reynaldo Hahn as performed by Graham and pianist Roger Vignoles.

Graham has received many honours, including Musical America’s Vocalist of the Year, an Opera News Award and the title ‘America’s favourite mezzo’ byGramophone .

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