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Susan Graham sings Composer and Marguerite

A star on stages from New York to London, Paris, and beyond, Texas-bred mezzo-soprano Susan Graham returns to the Houston Grand Opera for the “trouser role” of the ardent Composer in Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos (April 29 – May 10).  Then the Grammy Award-winner resumes her signature repertoire when she joins the Philadelphia Orchestra to sing Marguerite in Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust (May 27-28).
Reviewing a performance of Ariadne auf Naxos at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the U.K.’s Independent was enraptured by Graham’s portrayal of the Composer and her chemistry with the character’s love interest:
“Graham catches not just the Composer’s boyish desperation, but his undergraduate ideals wonderfully.  That vision of isolation – Ariadne’s fusing with his – took the auditorium by storm.  The crux, where Zerbinetta’s crew is silenced and Diana Damrau’s eyes blend with the Composer’s – the glance (ein Blick) that can metamorphose attitudes and change a lifetime – proved breath-stopping.”
Over the years at Houston Grand Opera, Graham has enjoyed striking success in key roles of operas ranging from Handel’s Xerxes and Ariodante to Monteverdi’s Coronation of Poppea, Mozart’s Idomeneo, and Lehár’s Merry Widow.  The lavish Ariadne auf Naxos production – directed by John Cox, conducted by house music director Patrick Summers, and co-starring Christine Goerke (Ariadne) and Laura Claycomb (Zerbinetta) – impressed Culture Vulture with its “subtlety and finesse.”
Renowned for her expertise in French repertoire, Graham has been honored by the French government with the title “Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur.”  On May 27-28, she joins fellow Berlioz expert Charles Dutoit and the Philadelphia Orchestra to star as Marguerite in The Damnation of Faust.  Reviewing the Metropolitan Opera’s staged version of Berlioz’s légende dramatique (which was broadcast around the world three years ago in the company’s “Live in HD” series), the New York Times’s Anthony Tommasini wrote:
“Susan Graham, an inspired choice as Marguerite, sounds terrific.  She was especially fine in ‘D’amour, l’ardente flamme,’…[bringing] a lovely blend of rapturous richness and elegant restraint to this wistful aria, with its elusive melody and soothing, almost Wagnerian orchestral backdrop.”
The mezzo-soprano has just scored another triumph in the title role of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride.  After taking her celebrated Iphigénie interpretation to many of the world’s great opera houses, in February Graham returned home to the Met for the revival of its Stephen Wadsworth production, as originally mounted for her in 2007.  She starred opposite Plácido Domingo, earning praise once again in the New York Times for her “haunted and mournful” portrayal of a role that’s a “perfect fit” for her.  Tommasini wrote: “She started off singing with floating richness, emanating tenderness and hurt in arias with the quiet eloquence of prayer, and gained power and authority as the opera went on.”
Graham’s summer engagements include the title role of Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea at the Maggio Musicale festival in Florence, Italy (June 18-22), as well as orchestral recitals featuring Handel and more at the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, N.C. (July 2-3) and at Tanglewood (July 22).
Susan Graham: 2011 spring/summer engagements
April 29; May 1, 4, 7, & 10
Houston, TX
Houston Grand Opera
Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos (Composer)
May 27 & 28
Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia Orchestra / Charles Dutoit
Berlioz: The Damnation of Faust (Marguerite)
June 18, 20, & 22
Florence, Italy
Maggio Musicale / Alan Curtis
Monteverdi: L’incoronazione di Poppea (Poppea)
July 2 & 3
Greensboro, NC
Eastern Music Festival / Gerard Schwarz
Orchestral recital: Handel, Mozart, Bizet, and Lehár
July 22
Tanglewood, MA
Boston Symphony Orchestra / Pablo Heras-Casado
Orchestral recital: Handel and Gluck

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