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Susan Graham kicks off summer with return to NY Philharmonic

Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Susan Graham returns to the New York Philharmonic for performances of Chausson’s lush Poème de l’amour et de la mer at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis (June 3-5).  These New York concerts conclude a season full of drama for the statuesque mezzo – from Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust at Lyric Opera of Chicago and Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier at New York’s Metropolitan Opera to Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas on a West Coast tour and Handel’s Xerxes at Houston Grand Opera.  Of Graham’s run as Handel’s tyrannical, flamboyant Persian king, the Houston Chronicle observed: “She negotiated her arias with aplomb, her smooth, velvety mezzo fluent and confident… . Her portrayal evinced the cocky swagger and confident air of someone accustomed to having his way.”

The New York Philharmonic concerts mark a return to Chausson’s beloved song cycle for Graham.  She recorded the half-hour song sequence as the centerpiece of her 2005 Warner Classics album Poèmes de l’amour.  When selecting the disc as a monthly “Editor’s Choice” in Gramophone magazine, James Jolly wrote: “Chausson’s Poème de l’amour is one of those overwhelmingly romantic outpourings that is seldom heard in the concert hall and not frequently enough on record.  But with a version of such sumptuous color…, Chausson’s work receives a performance that some of us have only dreamed of.”  In its glowing review, BBC Music magazine added: “In his song sequence, Chausson became the ultimate musical poet of adolescent splendors and miseries.  Susan Graham charts the progress from hope to quietly desperate loss with merciless emotional truth and fine sensitivity to nuances of language, darkening her timbre as anticipation turns to dismay, and intensifying at the approaching ‘inexprimable horreur.’”


Graham is first artist-in-residence at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

The summer is all about song for the beloved mezzo-soprano, as she moves from the theater to the concert stage.  Graham sings Chausson with the New York Philharmonic (June 3-5), Berlioz at the Grand Teton Music Festival (July 9-10), and then a Jake Heggie song cycle and Mahler at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival (July 18-26).

As the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival’s first ever artist-in-residence this season, Graham will sing Heggie’s song cycle The Deepest Desire: Four Meditations on Love on July 18 and 19, with the composer at the piano.  The mezzo created the role of Sister Helen Prejean in Heggie’s opera Dead Man Walking, prompting USA Today to declare hers a “performance of a lifetime…[:] a portrayal of depth and sustained intensity.”  On July 25 and 26 in Santa Fe, Graham will feature in Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (Song of the Earth), conducted by David Zinman.  Opening the San Francisco Symphony’s season, Graham sang Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder under Michael Tilson Thomas, with the performances recorded for release in the orchestra’s Grammy-winning Mahler series; the San Francisco Classical Voice described her as “poised and radiant” in the repertoire, and praised the mezzo’s “lustrous tone, regal bearing, and keen sensitivity.”


“Summer Nights” at Grand Teton

Graham is one of today’s most acclaimed interpreters of Berlioz, from the role of Dido in his opera Les Troyens to the song cycle Les nuits d’été (Summer Nights).  With Donald Runnicles conducting, she sings Les nuits in a spectacular setting on July 9 and 10 – at the Grand Teton Music Festival, held in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, at the gateway to the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.  Of her way with Les nuits, the Chicago Tribune wrote: “The alluring American mezzo-soprano and Berlioz’s music are a match made in vocal heaven, and her performance of that composer’s song cycle, Les nuits d’été, could only be called exquisite.  The six songs demand the qualities that Graham has in abundance – a beautiful voice that can be lightened and darkened with ease and is secure throughout a wide range; a natural command of French vocal style, diction, and nuance; and the ability to project an emotional range from rapturous delight to bitter bereavement.”


Looking ahead: Edinburgh Festival and the Met

On September 3, Graham performs a recital at Scotland’s Edinburgh Festival, and her 2010-11 season includes performances in Paris, Madrid, Houston, Philadelphia, and New York, including a revival of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride co-starring Plácido Domingo at the Metropolitan Opera (Feb 12 – March 5, 2011).



Susan Graham: summer 2010 engagements
June 3-5
New York, NY
Chausson: Poème de l’amour et de la mer
Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center
New York Philharmonic / Sir Andrew Davis
July 9-10
Grand Teton Music Festival: Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Berlioz: Les nuits d’été
Walk Festival Hall
Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra / Donald Runnicles
July 18-19
Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Jake Heggie: The Deepest Desire: Four Meditations on Love
St. Francis Auditorium
Jake Heggie, piano
July 25-26
Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde
St. Francis Auditorium
Santa Fe Chamber Music Ensemble / David Zinman

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© 21C Media Group, May 2010

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