One of the most sought-after singers of our time, Susan Graham is celebrated worldwide for the lustrous timbre of her voice, the enchanting allure of her stage presence, and the fervent emotion that infuses her varied repertoire. Graham’s impassioned voice brims with feeling in the most demanding lyric mezzo-soprano roles; in traditional opera standards, art song, and symphonic literature. Her discography will soon number 17 titles, with the upcoming fall release of her Live Carnegie Hall recital debut by Warner Classics, and a disc featuring the music of Charles Ives with Pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, scheduled for release in spring 2004.
Ms. Graham opens the 2003-04 season with her debut performance as Didon in Berlioz’ Les Troyens at Paris’ Châtelet Theater. In December, she assumes the title role in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow. Additional season highlights for Ms. Graham include an international recital tour, a chamber program with pianist Emmanuel Ax at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, and a joint recital with soprano Renée Fleming at the Kennedy Center’s Festival of France in Washington D.C.
Ms. Graham made her long-awaited debut recital at Carnegie Hall in April 2003 with pianist Malcolm Martineau as the culmination of a nationwide recital tour. The 2002-03 season also marked Ms. Graham’s debut at the Houston Grand Opera with two lead roles, first as Handel’s Ariodante, and then as Lehár’s Merry Widow. Long esteemed as a Berlioz specialist, she sang one of her signature pieces, Les Nuits d’été, at Carnegie Hall with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and appeared in Roméo et Juliette with the Orchestre de Paris, conducted by Lorin Maazel. EMI recorded her performance of Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas opposite Ian Bostridge at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.
In the 2001-2002 season, Ms. Graham appeared throughout the world in performances of contemporary opera theater, traditional opera standards, and symphonic masterworks. In September 2001, she celebrated the tenth anniversary of her Metropolitan Opera debut with performances of Mozart’s Idomeneo opposite Placido Domingo, under the direction of James Levine. Ms. Graham joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the opening performance of Seiji Ozawa’s final season in October 2001 with Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
In spring 2002, Ms. Graham toured Paris, Berlin, London, Lisbon, Amsterdam, and other cities in recital with Malcolm Martineau. Ms. Graham reprised the role of Idamante in Idomeneo at the Palais Garnier and then appeared in one of her signature roles, Marguerite, in La Damnation de Faust, joining Antonio Pappano for his final production as music director of the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels. During the summer of 2002, Ms. Graham performed at The Santa Fe Opera, as well as at the Tanglewood, Blossom, and Vail Valley music festivals.
In addition to operatic classics, Ms. Graham has created new characters in world premieres. In September 2000, she created the role of Sister Helen Prejean in the San Francisco Opera’s world premiere production of Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally’s Dead Man Walking, an operatic retelling of the Oscar-winning film in which her appearance was hailed as “the performance of a lifetime” by USA Today. During the 1999-2000 season, she won notice for her characterization of Jordan Baker in John Harbison’s setting of The Great Gatsby at the Metropolitan Opera.
Ms. Graham’s solo and opera recordings have met with great critical acclaim. Her 2002 Erato release, C’est ça la vie, c’est ça l’amour: French Operetta Arias, was named one of the best classical music albums of 2002 by Entertainment Weekly and won Editor's Choice awards from Gramophone and Opera News magazines. Erato’s original cast recording of Dead Man Walking from the San Francisco Opera garnered accolades, as did Il tenero momento, a disc featuring Gluck and Mozart arias that was nominated for Gramophone magazine’s award for Best Recital Disc in 2001 and was the recipient of the Grand Prix de l'Académie du disque (Prix Gabriel Fauré).
Ms. Graham’s first solo album, Berlioz’ Les Nuits d’été, with conductor John Nelson and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, was released early in her career by SONY Classics. This was followed by a highly acclaimed recording of Reynaldo Hahn songs, La Belle Epoque, which won the German Echo Klassik award in 1999 and the Critics Choice Award from National Public Radio’s Performance Today. Ms. Graham’s first Erato album, Songs of Ned Rorem, topped many critics’ “Best of 2000” lists. She is also featured with colleagues Renée Fleming and Natalie Dessay on Erato’s recording of Handel’s Alcina with William Christie and his period-instrument group, Les Arts Florissants.
Born in New Mexico and raised in Midland, Texas, Susan Graham studied at Texas Tech University and the Manhattan School of Music. She is a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and has been honored with the Schwabacher Award from San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program and a Career Grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation. In 2001, the French government honored her with the distinction of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. Ms. Graham currently resides in New York City with her French poodle, Libby.