Visit this artist's website: http://susangraham.com
Internationally beloved SUSAN GRAHAM - dubbed "America's favorite mezzo" by Gramophone Magazine - rose to the top league of international artists within just a few years of her professional debut, and along the way has mastered an astonishing range of repertoire and formats. Her operatic roles have stretched from Monteverdi’s 17th century Poppea to a contemporary American operatic portrait of Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, written specifically for her. She performs the songs of Gustav Mahler with all of the world’s great orchestras and conductors, and her recital literature is no less broad, with 14 composers from Purcell to Sondheim represented on her most recent disc, Virgins, Vixens, and Viragos (with pianist Malcolm Martineau on Onyx). But throughout her extraordinary career, the Texas native has always been considered one of the great interpreters of French vocal music of her time.
Her tall, slim good looks made the operatic stage the natural first stop of a distinguished career, with early successes in "trouser" roles such as Cherubino in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. Her technical brilliance brought mastery of Mozart’s more virtuosic roles such as Sesto in La clemenza di Tito, Idamante in Idomeneo, and Cecilio in Lucio Silla, as well as the title roles of Handel’s Ariodante and Xerxes. Inevitably she triumphed in the iconic Richard Strauss mezzo roles - Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier (often opposite the Marschallin of Renée Fleming) and the Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos. These roles brought her to prominence in every major opera house in the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Chicago, San Francisco, Covent Garden, Munich, La Scala, Salzburg, Vienna, and many others.
But early productions of Berlioz's Béatrice et Bénédict earned particular raves from the international press for her pristine French diction and innate style, and invitations to explore this repertoire came from many of its greatest conductors, among them Colin Davis, Charles Dutoit, James Levine, and Seiji Ozawa. Her Marguerite in La Damnation de Faust, both in fully-staged versions and in concert, has been heard in hundreds of performances worldwide. New productions of Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride were mounted for her in New York, London, Chicago, and San Francisco and elsewhere, while Charlotte in Massenet's Werther became a calling card throughout the world. She added the title role of the great Offenbach comedy La belle Hélène in 2005 at Santa Fe and will continue the tradition with La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein next summer. Most recently she triumphed in the pinnacle role of Didon in Berlioz's Les Troyens at the Metropolitan Opera, with live HD telecast worldwide.
This affinity for the French repertoire has not been limited to the operatic stage, and indeed it serves as the foundation of an extensive concert and recital career. The great oratorios and symphonic song cycles such as Berlioz's La mort de Cléopâtre and his Les nuits d'été, Ravel's Sheherezade and Chausson's Poème de l'amour et de la mer have been among works taking her to the world's leading orchestras, including the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony as well as the Berlin Philharmonic, Concertgebouw, London Symphony, and the Orchestre de Paris. For her profile as a leading vocal artist but also in note of her commitment to French music, she was awarded France's prestigious "Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres”.
A distinguished discography further underlines this strong musical identity. In addition to touchstone recordings of La mort de Cléopâtre for EMI and Les nuits d'été for Sony, Susan Graham has made treasurable solo recordings such as the program of mélodie entitled Un frisson Francais with pianist Malcolm Martineau (Onyx), an album of 20th century operetta rarities C'est ça la vie, c'est ça l'amour! for Erato, a disc of symphonic cycles by Ravel, Chausson, and Debussy also for Erato, and La Belle Époque, an award-winning collection of songs by Reynaldo Hahn with pianist Roger Vignoles, for Sony.