Critical Acclaim

“Graham’s performance is gut-wrenchingly sincere and she’s as vocally resplendent as ever, even when her voice seems on the verge of breaking with emotion.”

Schmopera – November 5, 2019

“Susan Graham’s performance as De Rocher’s mother stands out for its highly emotional elements. Graham literally cries out for her son, whom she says was at one time a “good boy” who had a hard life, to be spared. Her vocals tug at the heart throughout her plea.”

NWI Times – November 5, 2019

“Her performance—superbly sung and utterly, devastatingly convincing—is a peak opera-going experience”

Chicago Reader – November 4, 2019

“But it’s Joseph’s disheveled mother, in a heart-wrenching scene that mezzo-soprano Susan Graham was destined to play, who opens the story up to gorgeous transcendence as the opera propels toward its intermission pause. As a downtrodden woman whose eloquence lies in her utter inadequacy to change the course of a hearing to appeal Joseph’s fate, Graham delivered what felt like the authentic improvisation of someone trying to stop the unstoppable, with nothing to bargain with but her gasps about sweet things Joseph did as a little boy.”

Chicago Sun Times – November 3, 2019

“Susan Graham’s performance as De Rocher’s mother stands out for its highly emotional elements. Graham literally cries out for her son, whom she says was at one time a “good boy” who had a hard life, to be spared. Her vocals tug at the heart throughout her plea.”

Chicago Tribune – November 3, 2019

“American mezzo Susan Graham, appropriately regal in shimmering gown and cape, transformed the tragic queen into a creature of flesh and blood, of fallibilities and strengths. It was a stellar performance by a world-class singer in her prime, soaring effortlessly to thrilling heights yet unlocking intimate vulnerabilities in recitative; an immense and unforgettable pleasure to have experienced on a New Zealand stage.”

The New Zealand Herald – April 1, 2019

“The resounding success of the recital rested not only on the ingenuity of its makeup, and the excellent taste shown in the selection, but also in Graham’s vocal skills in projecting such a wide range of emotions. Her singing of the Schumann cycle conveyed rapture, and a pair of Edvard Grieg songs elicited the most heroic singing of the evening.”

The News-Gazette – February 10, 2019

“The fourth movement, setting lines from Nietzsche and finally bringing the work into the human realm, was glowingly put across by mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, at just the right point between confiding and awestruck.”

The Guardian – September 3, 2018

“Mezzo-soprano Susan Graham is a powerful force as the driven title character, who is not above stomping on anyone, including her husband and daughter, to get what she wants. Graham delivers Regina’s imperious presence effectively while also capably handling arias such as the telling number, ‘The Best Thing of All’, in Act I as she describes her lust for wealth and material glory.”

Ladue News – May 30, 2018

“…But none of those ladies could surpass the performance of mezzo-soprano Susan Graham in this production. With keen intelligence and consummate authority she absolutely nails it.

In this she leads a cast who bring not only sublime operatic voices, but wonderful acting ability.”

Broadway World – May 29, 2018

“In the title role, mezzo-soprano Susan Graham (who usually portrays amiable characters) is an imperious force of nature. It’s a demanding role, with an unusually wide vocal range to go with its daunting dramatic requirements; she nailed it in every respect, singing powerfully with acting to match.”

Saint Louis Post-Dispatch – May 27, 2018

“The high point was the title song, sung by Dinah, a sendup of kitschy ’50s Hollywood musical fantasies that Graham brought off hilariously well. The charismatic mezzo-soprano made Dinah truly touching through the warmth of her singing and her subtle way with Lenny’s lyrics.”

The Chicago Tribune – March 11, 2018

“Graham was in superb voice Sunday, the tone velvety even when going full-throttle, the articulation pristine, the phrasing deeply communicative — whatever the text or language.”

Baltimore Sun – April 26, 2017

“Graham’s voice was in top form as she dug into this material with audible delight… The program theme allowed Graham to include more of the French songs that are her specialty, due to both her excellent French pronunciation and her understanding of that delicate style.”

Washington Classical Review – April 24, 2017

“The American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham has for the better part of a decade impressed audiences with her creamy singing and chiseled characterizations…”

The New York Times – October 1, 2000

“America’s favorite mezzo…”

Gramophone Magazine

“It is impossible to take eyes or ears off of Susan Graham whenever she is onstage. At almost 6 feet, the American mezzo-soprano is a commanding presence in opera or concert. And once Graham opens her mouth, a listener can only submit to a lustrous voice that abounds in expressive colors…”

Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Most opera divas don’t do their errands on bikes, especially in New York City. Nor do they scuba-dive off the coast of Thailand. But to creamy-voiced Susan Graham, one of America’s top mezzo-sopranos, such activities come as naturally as recording the music of composer Ned Rorem, performing Kurt Weill’s Broadway songs or taking on the so-called trouser roles in Mozart, Handel and Strauss operas…”

Town & Country

“Graham’s voice is an instrument of extraordinary tonal control, yet seems utterly effortless in production … It is as though she directly addresses each individual in the audience.”

The Sydney Morning Herald – May 3, 2000

Susan Graham returns to ‘life-changing’ reality of ‘Dead Man Walking’ for Lyric Opera staging

Chicago Sun-Times
By Kyle MacMillan

“Nobody is wrong in this opera,” the mezzo-soprano said. “There are many dissenting opinions and they’re all legitimate.”

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Singer Susan Graham Belts French Lyrics, But She’s A Texas Gal At Heart

Houston Press
By Sam Byrd

“‘Les nuits d’eté’ is one of my most performed pieces. It really is the piece with which I made my international mark in French music,” Graham said. “It’s a piece that is extremely close to my heart, and it’s the French music I’m best known for.”

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Interview | Rochester City Newspaper

Rochester City Newspaper
By Daniel J. Kushner

American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham has enjoyed a rich and successful operatic career, interpreting everything from French-language roles like Iphigénie in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride and Didon in Berlioz’s Les Troyens to 20th century characters like the title role in Marc Blitzstein’s Regina and Sister Helen Prejean in the premiere of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking.

On February 10 at Eastman’s Kilbourn Hall, Graham and pianist Bradley Moore turn to the world of art song, performing a program that prominently features the music of French composers Fauré, Debussy, Ravel, and Poulenc. Thematically, the recital revolves around the subject of love, as articulated in the Robert Schumann song cycle Frauenliebe und leben.

In a recent phone interview, Graham talked about her attraction to French music, her vocal style, and highlights from the upcoming concert. What follows is an edited version of that discussion.

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Susan Graham, Opera’s Sweetheart, Tries Something New: Being Nasty

The New York Times
By Joshua Barone
June 5, 2018

The great mezzo-soprano Susan Graham turns 58 this summer. And she’s celebrating by taking on one of her most challenging parts yet — and logging 20 flights of stairs during each performance.

“Good gravy!” she exclaimed recently at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel here, where she has taken up residence while singing the title role in Marc Blitzstein’s “Regina” (1949) at Opera Theater of St. Louis. “It’s exhausting.”

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An Opera Star Walks Into a Karaoke Bar …

The New York Times
By Michael Cooper
December 13, 2017

The ringleaders were the mezzo-soprano Susan Graham and the tenor Paul Groves, who had spent the day rehearsing Lehar’s “The Merry Widow,” which runs at the Met through Jan. 11. In recent years they have made a habit of organizing let-your-hair-down karaoke nights with castmates around their appearances together in cities including Paris, Chicago, San Francisco and New Orleans.

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Powerhouse Mezzo-Soprano Susan Graham On Returning to The Merry Widow

By Christopher Browner
December 12, 2017

As the opera favorite prepares for the Metropolitan Opera production, resuming December 14, she talks about what keeps her coming back to the role after 15 years.

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Mentor, Muse, Mother: The Many Roles of Susan Graham

By Claudia Friedlander
Classical Singer Magazine

While the young developing voice offers enviable ease and agility, legendary mezzo-soprano Susan Graham relishes the vocal maturity she now enjoys. “Where I am now, in my mid 50s—there is a richness to the sound,” she observes. “I was known for a silverish clarity when I was younger, which is why I sang so much Mozart and Handel. I had a real sparkle in my voice that, over the years, has burnished into more bronze than silver.”

She exults in the “big girl” roles she is able to embody now that her voice has taken on greater warmth and depth, including Didon in Les troyens and the title role in Iphigénie en Tauride. “My lower register has come in, there’s more warmth in the lower and middle—and that’s just age. In every aspect of aging, things start to sit lower!” she laughs. “Everything drops a little bit, including the voice! I still have B-flats, don’t get me wrong—sometimes they don’t just pop out the way they once did.”

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A Veteran Opera Singer’s Biggest Challenge: American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham sings the role of Countess Geschwitz in the Met’s ‘Lulu’

By Jennifer Smith
The Wall Street Journal

After performing more than 20 roles with the Metropolitan Opera since her 1991 debut, American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham faced what she called her toughest musical challenge yet.

And it wasn’t about hitting the high notes.

On Thursday, the Met opens a new production of “Lulu,” Alban Berg’s dark opera about an amoral, murderous femme fatale, directed by South African artist William Kentridge. In it, Ms. Graham sings the role of Countess Geschwitz, a lovelorn lesbian who is one of a bevy of broken hearts and lives left in the title character’s wake.

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Susan Graham Sings With Mercury This Weekend; Then For The Pope

By St. John Flynn
Houston Public Media

Gramophone magazine called her “America’s favorite mezzo,” and indeed Susan Graham has built an enviable reputation in opera houses and recital halls around the world as a performer of rare and exception talent.

With a repertoire that ranges from the Baroque to the contemporary, the Midland, Texas, native is one of the few American singers, along with the likes of Renée Fleming and Joyce DiDonato, to have garnered a truly international following that is not just confined to the opera house.

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Opera singer Susan Graham on her ‘nothing about our life is normal’ reality

By Kathy Evans
Brisbane Times

“The world is set up for people who live in the same house or apartment every day of their life,” she says. “But opera singers are not normal. There is nothing about our lives that is normal.”

Indeed. But Graham’s life certainly started that way. Born in 1960 in Roswell, New Mexico, more famous for supernatural beings than down-to-earth divas, she grew up in Midland, Texas, the daughter of an amateur pianist and an oil man who coached Little League baseball. Her childhood was both sporty and musical, she played piano but as the nearest opera house was 300 miles away. It wasn’t until she was studying music at college that she first encountered the art form.

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An Audience With Susan Graham – Queen of Carthage in ‘Les Troyens’ at San Francisco Opera

By Sean Martinfield
Huffington Post

For mezzo-soprano Susan Graham – San Francisco Opera and the War Memorial Opera House is home. This year marks her 25th Anniversary with the company. Susan is back and currently starring as “Didon” in Hector Berlioz’s 1858 epic masterpiece,Les Troyens which opened this past Sunday afternoon and will play an additional five performances through July 1. The massive new production by David McVicar is nearly five hours in length and is produced in co-operation with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; Teatro alla Scala and the Vienna State Opera. At the final curtain, General Director David Gockley presented Susan with the company’s highest honor, the San Francisco Opera Medal. In 1987, Susan trained here as a member of the Merola Opera Program and won the Grand Finals. In 1990, she made her company debut as the goddess Minerva in Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria and has subsequently appeared as Annius (La Clemenza di Tito), Sister Helen Prejean (Dead Man Walking), Octavian (Der Rosenkavalier), and in the title roles of Iphigénie en TaurideAriodante, and Xerxes. Said Susan during our recent interview, “Merola told me that I had a shot at a career.”

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Mezzo-Soprano Susan Graham Returns to the Met

By The Leonard Lopate Show

Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Susan Graham talks about her many projects, including her return to the Metropolitan Opera to star again in the title role of Lehár’s “The Merry Widow.” Hanna Glawari is one of Graham’s signature roles, and this new take on Lehár’s perennially popular operetta of 1905 features new staging by Tony-winning director-choreographer Susan Stroman. The performance runs from April 24 through May 7.

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Susan Graham recital encapsulates love and life

By Kathaleen Roberts
Albuquerque Journal

Robert Schumann’s dramatic song cycle forms the scaffolding of a Santa Fe recital by internationally known mezzo-soprano Susan Graham.

Sometimes deemed the greatest of its genre, “Frauenliebe und Leben” (“A Woman’s Love and Life”) leads the listener from the first flush of attraction through marriage, childbirth and the death of a husband. Graham has augmented the performance with related music by a small galaxy of composers and cultures.

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Susan Graham a Happy Camper as the ‘Duchess’

By Mike Silverman

Ask Susan Graham how she reacted when Santa Fe Opera first offered her the title role in Offenbach’s “The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein.”

“Do I still have the bruises?” she replies, extending her right arm in jest. “I didn’t want to do it. They twisted my arm for two years!”

Eventually she gave in, and this summer she’s headlining a campy new production of the 1867 operetta, which satirizes militaristic war-mongering and political corruption and depicts a royal ruler whose sex drive is in overdrive. Director Lee Blakeley has updated the setting from a fictional 18th century duchy to 20th century America and written new English-language dialogue, filled with mild double entendres (think “privates on parade”).

Graham, one of America’s leading mezzo-sopranos for nearly a quarter-century, has scored some of her greatest triumphs in serious roles (Dido in Berlioz’s “Les Troyens,” Sesto in Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito”), but she has also done light opera, from Lehar’s “The Merry Widow” to Offenbach’s “La Belle Helene.”

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Susan Graham teams up with Renee Fleming for a duo divas tour

By Kyle MacMillan
Chicago Sun-Times

Susan Graham has been featured on the cover of Opera News enough times, including the December issue, that she has lost count.

The frequency of her appearances centerstage in one of the field’s leading publications is just one measure of the stature of this 52-year-old mezzo, who has gained international renown for her elegant, insightful performances.

Lyric Opera of Chicago audiences have had no shortage of opportunities to savor Graham’s artistry, including a 2009-10 production of “The Damnation of Faust,” but Thursday they will get a chance to hear her in a different context.
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Renée Fleming, Susan Graham to sample French songs at Disney Hall

By Christopher Smith
Special to the Los Angeles Times

Dueling divas, yes, but has anyone ever heard of a diva duo? That rarity, delivered with a decidedly French accent, will be onstage Saturday at Walt Disney Concert Hall when soprano Renée Fleming and mezzo-soprano Susan Graham team for a recital of Belle Époque -era songs.

As Graham quips, “With an intermission, that gets you four dresses instead of just two!”
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Stage Therapy

By David Mermelstein
The Wall Street Journal

Only the foreign commendations—medals displayed on bookshelves—alongside rows of sheet music categorized by nationality (American songs, French songs, etc.) distinguish the living room of the American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham from that of anyone else living modestly on the Upper West Side. Indeed, with its well-worn furniture and backdrops and  flat-screen television, the room feels downright cozy, especially now that it’s festooned with Christmas lights.

Ms. Graham, age 52, has lately been preparing for the role of Dido, Queen of Carthage, which she’ll start singing Thursday in Hector Berlioz’s “Les Troyens” (“The Trojans”) at the Metropolitan Opera, where it hasn’t been mounted since 2003. At a time in her life and career that can gently but accurately be referred to as her “mature prime,” the singer—who has long been especially praised for her abilities in French music—seems more than satisfied with her situation.

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Plenty of Confidence, and No Pants

By Matthew Gurewitsch
New York Times

AS an encore at her recitals Susan Graham often sings the song “Sexy Lady.” Written for her by the composer and lyricist Ben Moore, it’s the comic complaint of a star mezzo-soprano trapped in an endless round of trouser roles: lovesick adolescents in operas by Mozart and Strauss, dysfunctional knights in Handel.

Fans laugh, but honestly, Ms. Graham’s feminine allure has never been in doubt. Just under six feet tall, she has always cut a glamorous figure on the concert stage, with or without the millions of dollars’ worth of diamonds Cartier decked her out in two seasons ago to celebrate the release of her CD “Poèmes de l’Amour,” a collection of French orchestral songs including Ravel’s sumptuous “Shéhérazade.” At the opera the flibbertigibbet Dorabella in Mozart’s “Così Fan Tutte” and the heartsick Charlotte in Massenet’s “Werther” have given her time off from the male roles she continues to perform with boyish panache. True, Ms. Graham has never tried Bizet’s Carmen or Saint-Saëns’s Dalila; their music, she says, wants a smoky sound that is nothing like hers.

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