One of the brightest stars on stages in the U.S. and abroad, charismatic soprano HAROLYN BLACKWELL has been hailed by audiences and critics alike as a "model of agility, spunk, charm and silvery tone." Recognized for her expressive and exuberant performances, as well as for her radiant voice, she is making a wide and varied career on opera, concert and recital stages of the world.
Following study at The Catholic University of America in her native Washington, D.C., Miss Blackwell's performing career began on the Broadway stage in Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story. The transition from musical theater to opera occurred shortly afterwards, when she was selected as a finalist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Since that time, the soprano has performed with many of the major national and international opera companies and at festivals around the world, including Lyric Opera of Chicago, Glyndebourne Festival, Teatro Colon de Buenos Aires, San Francisco Opera, Netherlands Opera, Seattle Opera, Opéra de Nice, Miami Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Aix-en-Provence Festival, Opera Orchestra of New York, and New York's Mostly Mozart Festival, among others. At the Metropolitan Opera, she has appeared in several productions, including La Fille du Régiment, Un Ballo in Maschera, Le Nozze di Figaro, Manon, Die Fledermaus, and Werther. Additional roles performed to date on other stages have included Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor), Lakmé (Lakmé), Gilda (Rigoletto), Nanetta (Falstaff), Zdenka (Arabella), and Constance (Les Dialogues des Carmélites).
Miss Blackwell's operatic and symphonic engagements have included appearances under the batons of such renowned conductors as Herbert Blomstedt, James Conlon, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Charles Dutoit, Erich Kunzel, James Levine, Andrew Litton, Zdenek Macal, Kurt Masur, Trevor Pinnock, André Previn, Simon Rattle, Gerard Schwarz, Leonard Slatkin, and David Zinman.
An engaging, exciting and communicative recitalist, Miss Blackwell has already sung in several important concert series: London's Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, (as part of their "Great Singers" series) New York's Town Hall, the Ambassador Foundation Performing Arts Series in Los Angeles, and major performances in San Francisco.
Miss Blackwell began the 2001-2002 season with her debut at Tulsa Opera singing Gilda in Rigoletto. She then performed Samuel Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with Maestro Previn with The Munich Philharmonic, followed in the winter by a duo recital tour with mezzo-soprano Florence Quivar in which the artists exclusively performed American music. This tour was followed by solo recitals in several cities that will include a performance at Washington, DC's Kennedy Center.
Miss Blackwell's 2000-2001 season began with a recital at The Reichhold Center for the Arts in St. Thomas, USVI. Other appearances this season will include a performance of Haydn's Die Schöpfung with Maestro Leonard Slatkin at The National Cathedral in Washington , D.C.; André Previn's Honey and Rue and Mahler's Symphony No.4 with Maestro Previn and The Oslo Philharmonic; the role of Marzelline in Fidelio with Maestro Andrew Litton and The Dallas Symphony Orchestra; Mozart's Requiem with Maestro Zdenek Macal and The New Jersey Symphony.
Highlights of Miss Blackwell's 1999-2000 season have included at the invitation of the Vatican, a performance of Haydn's Die Schöpfung with Maestro Gilbert Levine and The London Symphony Orchestra for Pope John Paul II in celebration of his 80th birthday; a recording and performance of Brahms's Ein Deutsches Requiem with Maestro André Previn and The London Symphony Orchestra; Carmina Burana with Maestro James Judd and The Florida Philharmonic; Mozart's Mass in C minor and Arias from Der Freischütz with Maestro Gerard Schwarz for the closing performance of the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York. The soprano performed her first Lakmé with the Seattle Opera and was a featured artist on National Television for the Memorial Day Concert from Washington D.C. Later in the season, Miss Blackwell returned to the Seattle Opera, adding the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor to her repertoire.
The 1998-99 season included appearances with the Pittsburgh Symphony, performing André Previn's Honey and Rue and Mahler's Symphony No. 4, conducted by Maestro Previn; the Cincinnati Pops with Maestro Erich Kunzel conducting, as part of a series of Valentine's Day concerts, telecast nationally on PBS; Poulenc's Gloria with L'Orchestre de Lyon, conducted by Maestro Yoel Levi; as Clara in a concert performance of Porgy and Bess with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Maestro Bobby McFerrin; selections from the Richard Rodgers Songbook sponsored by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts at Alice Tully Hall; with the Baltimore Symphony for Mozart's Exsultate, Jubilate and Fauré's Requiem, conducted by Maestro Bobby McFerrin; the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo for performances of Previn's Honey and Rue and Vocalise, with the composer conducting (broadcast on radio and television throughout Japan). The season's recital engagements were at Denison University in Ohio; in Naples, Florida; Overland Park, Kansas; and at the 92nd Street Y, as part of a birthday celebration for Maestro Previn. During the summer, the soprano made her Ravinia Festival debut with Maestro Kunzel and her Saratoga Festival debut with Maestro Charles Dutoit, performing Viennese music.
Miss Blackwell has appeared in a remarkable number of national telecasts: The Met's Un Ballo in Maschera; the 1990 Grammy Telecast (The New York Times's Alan Kozinn called her Summertime "melting"); and I Hear America Singing on PBS. Her performance of Blondchen in Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail in the Aix-en-Provence Festival was aired throughout Europe. The Fourth of July Boston Pops performance was aired on A&E. The soprano has been seen on numerous broadcasts from Washington, D.C., which aired on PBS, including: The 25th Anniversary Salute to the Kennedy Center; The Annual Memorial Day Concert from the Capitol steps; and several Fourth of July Concerts from the Capitol Mall, which have celebrated Gershwin and Bernstein; and NBC's Christmas In Washington.
To date, Miss Blackwell's recordings include the role of Clara in the Glyndebourne Festival's Porgy and Bess (EMI); Cunegonde in the Broadway cast album of Candide (RCA-Victor), and two solo albums: Strange Hurt (RCA-Victor) and Blackwell Sings Bernstein (RCA-Victor). She is also featured on: Selections from Porgy and Bess (Telarc); The Canadian Brass: Noel (RCA-Victor); and Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall (RCA-Victor).
Miss Blackwell is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, one of which afforded her the opportunity to study and work in Italy with Renata Tebaldi and Carlo Bergonzi, two of the greatest artists of our era. Others include the Baltimore Opera's Puccini Foundation Award; the WGN-Illinois Opera Guild's "Audition of the Air"; two career grants from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation; Alumna of the Year Award from her Alma Mater, The Catholic University of America; an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Siena College; and most recently, an Honorary Doctorate of Music from George Washington University.