Susan Graham, one of today's foremost opera stars, is in great demand at home and abroad for opera, concert and recital engagements. The Grammy® Award-winning mezzo-soprano enchants audiences with her expressive voice, her engaging and natural acting ability, and her tall and graceful stature. According to the Gramophone, whose cover she graced recently, she is "America's favorite mezzo."
Ms. Graham opens and closes the Metropolitan Opera this season, spending most of the year with her "home" company. She will sing a second world premiere as well as a house role debut. She begins at the opening night gala with her beloved portrayal of Cherubino in Act I of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, and continues with her long-anticipated Metropolitan Opera role debut as the Composer in Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos. In the first Metropolitan Opera commission since Harbison's Great Gatsby, in which Ms. Graham played Jordan Baker, she sings the role of Sondra Finchley in the world-premiere performances of Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy. And at season's end, she - along with the entire Met family - will bid adieu to the era of general director Joseph Volpe in a star-studded farewell gala.
Among the other major highlights of her season, Ms. Graham will reprise Octavian - her signature role - in Strauss's Rosenkavalier at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and return to the Houston Grand Opera as Poppea in Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea. Ms. Graham finishes the season at the Opéra National de Paris, portraying Iphigénie in Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride. She triumphed there last season as Sesto in Mozart's Clemenza di Tito, bringing down the house with her passionately sung "Parto, parto," the aria that won her a Metropolitan Opera National Council appearance on the Met stage in 1988.
Susan Graham has sung leading roles in the great opera houses of the world, including the La Scala Milan, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and at the Salzburg Festival, and she has appeared on all the world's leading concert stages, with orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony. A recipient of France's medal of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, Ms. Graham was Musical America's 2004 Vocalist of the Year.
Ms. Graham described the 2004-05 season as her "big Mozart year," when she sang her role debut as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Idamante in Idomeneo at the Houston Grand Opera, Sesto in Paris, and Cecilio in Lucio Silla at Santa Fe.
Last season Ms. Graham also gave a series of concerts and recitals singing repertoire from her newest recording "Poèmes de L'amour," including Ravel's Shéhérazade with the Berlin Philharmonic and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
Ms. Graham's discography of solo recitals and complete opera recordings is extensive. Her 2004 recording of Charles Ives songs with pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Performance. In addition, Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, in which she sings Dido, received a Grammy nomination and the Maria Callas award from France's Académie du Disque Lyrique. The New York Times wrote of her performance: "Ms. Graham uses [vibrato] in a controlled, expressive way that paints Dido as passionate from the start. 'When I Am Laid in Earth' is as wrenching an account as you'll find on disc."
Her complete opera recordings range from Handel's Alcina, Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride and Verdi's Falstaff to Barber's Vanessa and the heart-wrenching opera by Jake Heggie, Dead Man Walking, in which she portrays Sister Helen Préjean, the role she sang in the work's world premiere in San Francisco. Billboard's Anastasia Tsioulcas described her performance on the recording as "a marvel - she's passionate and fully in character yet delivers her lines with clarity and brilliance." Ms. Graham is a Berlioz specialist who has recorded his Nuits d'été, several opera arias, Béatrice et Bénédict and the rarities Eight Scenes from Faust and L'Enfance du Christ. She has made Marguérite in La Damnation de Faust another of her signature parts. Her performance as Didon in Les Troyens on a DVD from Paris's Châtelet - conducted by John Eliot Gardiner - was described by the Gramophone as "moving and intense ... strongly acted and magnificently sung."
Susan Graham has received many awards and citations for her recordings, including Editor's Choice twice from both Gramophone and Opera News for C'est ça, la vie, c'est ça l'amour and Dead Man Walking. Il tenero momento, with arias by Gluck and Mozart, was nominated as Gramophone's Best Recital Disc in 2001, won a German Echo Klassik award, and received the Prix Gabriel Fauré and the Grand Prix from the French Académie du disque. Graham's Songs of Ned Rorem topped many critics' "Best of 2000" lists.
Born in New Mexico and raised in Midland, Texas, Susan Graham studied at Texas Tech University and the Manhattan School of Music. She won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and was given the Schwabacher Award by the San Francisco Opera's Merola Program, as well as a Career Grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation.
Biography from www.susangraham.com, 2/2006