Grammy Award-winner Susan Graham ― “America’s favorite mezzo” (Gramophone) ― achieved international stardom within a few years of her professional debut. Her operatic roles span four centuries, from Monteverdi’s Poppea to Jake Heggie’s Sister Helen Prejean (Dead Man Walking), which was written especially for her, and her recital repertoire is equally wide-ranging. As one of today’s foremost interpreters of French vocal music, the Texas native was awarded the French government’s “Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur.”
Graham kicks off the 2015/16 season with a solo recital in Washington, DC, and a concert with Mercury Baroque in Houston. She then makes a much-anticipated return to the Metropolitan Opera to sing Countess Geschwitz in a new production of Berg’s Lulu by artist-director William Kentridge, and for a revival of Strauss’s Die Fledermaus in the role of Prince Orlovsky. A string of European concert dates follows, including Britten at Teatro Real Madrid and recitals at London’s Wigmore Hall, Glasgow’s Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and the Vienna Konzerthaus. Stateside, Graham appears with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in San Francisco; with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony for Brahms’s Alto Rhapsody; at the Celebrity Series of Boston for a program that includes Schumann, Mahler, and Ravel; with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall; and with the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall. The mezzo later returns to Carnegie Hall to headline a special evening of music called “Susan Graham & Friends.”
Graham enjoyed early success in “trouser” roles like Mozart’s Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro), before mastering his more virtuosic parts and the title roles of Handel’s Ariodante and Xerxes. She triumphed in Richard Strauss’s iconic mezzo roles, Octavian (Der Rosenkavalier) and the Composer (Ariadne auf Naxos), which brought her to prominence with all the world’s major opera companies. She also created the female leads in the Metropolitan Opera’s premiere productions of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby and Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy, and later returned to the Met in the title role of Susan Stroman’s staging of Lehár’s The Merry Widow. Her signature role of Dido in Berlioz’s epic Les troyens ― recently heralded by the New York Times as “sumptuous, regal and impassioned” ― was reprised in a David McVicar-helmed staging at San Francisco Opera. Graham made her musical theater debut in a new production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, and has headlined gala concerts at Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Los Angeles Opera.
Following the mezzo’s conquests in Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict in Lyon and Massenet’s Chérubin at Covent Garden, new productions of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride, Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust, Massenet’s Werther, and Offenbach’s La belle Hélène and The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein were mounted for her in New York, London, Paris, Chicago, San Francisco, Santa Fe, and elsewhere. Her command of French music has also led to regular appearances with the world’s foremost orchestras. She has performed Berlioz with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Symphony, and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, and recently rejoined her frequent collaborator, pianist Malcolm Martineau, for a West Coast recital tour.
Graham’s extensive and distinguished discography features oratorios and song cycles by Berlioz, Ravel, and Chausson, as well as solo albums that include her Grammy Award-winning album of Ives songs. Among her additional honors are Musical America’s Vocalist of the Year and an Opera News Award.