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Earning an unprecedented three Tony Awards before the age of 30 (Carousel, Master Class, and Ragtime) and a fourth in 2004 (A Raisin in the Sun), singer and actress AUDRA MCDONALD is frequently compared to legendary performers such as Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand. But like all great artists, she is a unique force, blending a luscious, classically trained soprano with an incomparable gift for dramatic truth-telling. In addition to her theatrical work, she maintains a major career as a concert and recording artist appearing regularly on many of the great stages of the world.
Returning to ABC in the fall of 2008, McDonald can be seen as Dr. Naomi Bennett in the second season of the hit television series Private Practice. Earlier in the year she earned an Emmy nomination for her role in the made-for-television movie version of A Raisin in the Sun on ABC, alongside hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, her co-star from the 2004 Broadway revival.
In September 2006, McDonald released her first solo album in four years – Build a Bridge – on Nonesuch Records. Her fourth solo recording for the label, Build a Bridge looks beyond her usual repertoire and explores music written by contemporary singer/songwriters, including Elvis Costello, Nellie McKay, John Mayer, Randy Newman, Laura Nyro, Neil Young, and Rufus Wainwright, and two songs by her longtime collaborator, musical-theater composer Adam Guettel.
McDonald made her Los Angeles Opera debut in February 2007 as Jenny in John Doyle’s production of Kurt Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, conducted by James Conlon. This marked the second operatic engagement of her career; she made a highly-praised debut at Houston Grand Opera in March 2006 in a double-bill featuring Poulenc’s famous monodrama La voix humaine, coupled with the world premiere of Send, a companion piece to the Poulenc written by one of McDonald’s frequent collaborators, Michael John LaChiusa.
McDonald has sung regularly with all the major American orchestras, including the Boston Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the National Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the San Francisco Symphony, under many of the world’s greatest conductors, such as John Adams, Sir Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leonard Slatkin, and Michael Tilson Thomas. In the spring of 2005 she “previewed” a scene from John Adams’s not-yet-premiered opera, Doctor Atomic, for the New York Philharmonic, with the composer conducting. Earlier she was the muse behind the Ellington Suite, a unique set of arrangements of favorite Duke Ellington tunes created by several of America’s top arrangers and commissioned jointly by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony. Overseas she is a returning guest at the BBC Proms (where she was only the second American in over 100 years to solo on the famed “Last Night of the Proms”), with the London Symphony Orchestra, with the Berlin Philharmonic, and at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.