The Kennedy Center

Kelley O'Connor


Possessing a voice of uncommon allure, musical sophistication far beyond her years, and intuitive and innate dramatic artistry, the Grammy(r) Award-winning mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor has emerged as one of the most compelling performers of her generation. During the 2011-12 season, the California native's impressive calendar includes the world premiere of a new oratorio by John Adams, The Gospel According to the Other Mary, commissioned and performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel. She brings her voice to performances as Ursule in Berlioz's Béatrice et Bénédict with Opera Boston, and to her signature role as Federico García Lorca in a Peter Sellars staging of Golijov's Ainadamar at Teatro Real in Madrid.  She sings her first performances of Ravel's Shéhérazade with Michael Christie at the Colorado Music Festival and Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Edinburgh Festival.  Other highlights include a program of Bach Cantatas with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with Jahja Ling and the Cleveland Orchestra, Stravinsky's Les Noces with David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony, Handel's Messiah with the San Francisco Symphony, Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony with Donald Runnicles and the Atlanta Symphony, as well as with the Kansas City Symphony, and Mozart's Requiem with Louis Langrée and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra at Lincoln Center, Peter Oundjian and the Toronto Symphony, and Iván Fischer and the Orchestra of St. Luke's at Carnegie Hall.  She returns to Atlanta for Bach's St. Matthew Passion led by Robert Spano, which she also sings with the Calgary Philharmonic. 

In June 2011 the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra released a recording of Peter Lieberson's Neruda Songs, in which she was featured.  Neruda Songs has highlighted her prominence as one of the world's leading concert artists in two significant European debuts: performances with David Zinman and the Berliner Philharmoniker as well as with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich.  Additionally, the work served her Carnegie Hall debut in a performance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink.

Highlights of the 2010-11 season included her return to the New York Philharmonic for staged performances of Janá?ek's The Cunning Little Vixen under the baton of Alan Gilbert, and her Lyric Opera of Chicago debut as Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night's Dream in the company's new production by Neil Armfield, conducted by Rory Macdonald.  She joined Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic on an international tour offering performances of Bernstein's "Jeremiah" Symphony.  She also performed Berio's Folk Songs with Daniel Harding and the London Symphony Orchestra at the Berlin Festival, excerpts from Roussel's Padmâvatî with Christoph Eschenbach and the National Symphony Orchestra, Bach's Missa Brevis in F major with Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with Kurt Masur and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Lieberson's Neruda Songs with Stéphane Denève and the Seattle Symphony as well as with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony with Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Orchestra, David Robertson and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, and with Edo de Waart and the Milwaukee Symphony, and Britten's "Spring" Symphony with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

Internationally in recent seasons she made her Proms Festival debut with Jirí Belohlávek and the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Mahler's Eighth Symphony, and an Edinburgh International Festival debut with James Conlon and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in John Adams's El Niño.  She joined Edo de Waart for Mahler's Third Symphony with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, toured with Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, and sang Mendelssohn's Elias with Ingo Metzmacher and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. 

Additionally, she has performed Bernstein's "Jeremiah" Symphony with Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Adams's El Niño with David Robertson and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges with Lorin Maazel and the New York Philharmonic, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with Bernard Haitink and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Haydn's Mass in the Time of War with Bernard Labadie and the San Francisco Symphony, Weill's Die sieben Todsünden with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Stravinsky's Les Noces with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as Lieberson's Neruda Songs in Los Angeles with Gustavo Dudamel.  The artist enjoys a particularly warm musical collaboration with Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra with whom she has sung Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (commercially available on Deutsche Grammophon), Bernstein's "Jeremiah" Symphony, staged performances of Falstaff (in Cleveland and at the Lucerne Festival), and Stravinsky's Requiem Canticles.

She has received unanimous international critical acclaim for her numerous performances as Federico García Lorca in Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar.  She created the role for the world premiere at Tanglewood under the baton of Robert Spano and subsequently has joined Miguel Harth-Bedoya for performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Hall.  She reprised her portrayal of Lorca in the world premiere of the revised edition of Ainadamar at the Santa Fe Opera in a new staging by Peter Sellars during the 2005 season, which also was presented at Lincoln Center.  For her debut with the Atlanta Symphony, in Ainadamar, she joined Robert Spano for performances and a Grammy(r) Award-winning Deutsche Grammophon recording. She rejoined Spano and Atlanta in summer 2006 for further performances of Ainadamar, including her debuts at the Ojai and Ravinia festivals.  In past seasons, she has bowed as Lorca in performances of Ainadamar at Opera Boston, the Adelaide Festival of Arts, the Barbican Centre, and with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  She  made her Cincinnati Opera debut in Ainadamar in a realization of the work by director Jose Maria Condemi.  Additional operatic engagements include her Canadian Opera Company debut in A Midsummer Night's Dream and as Meg Page in Falstaff at the Santa Fe Opera.

May 2012
Kelley O'Connor