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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