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Susan Graham tours with Renée Fleming, makes Dallas Opera debut, more

This past holiday season, Susan Graham was “the big news” (New York Times) of the Metropolitan Opera’s star-studded Les Troyens revival. Now the mezzo rings in the New Year with a number of important firsts. January 16 sees the launch of her first duo recital tour when she teams up with celebrated soprano Renée Fleming for performances at L.A.’s Disney Hall (Jan 19), New York’s Carnegie Hall (Jan 27), and four more of the nation’s foremost venues. Next, the Grammy Award-winner makes her long-overdue Dallas Opera debut, singing her first Tina in a new production of The Aspern Papers by Dominick Argento (April 12-28). And a second role debut marks her return to Santa Fe Opera, where she headlines the company’s season-opening new staging of Offenbach’s comic masterpiece The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein (June 28-Aug 24).
Recital tour with Renée Fleming
American soprano Renée Fleming is one of Graham’s long-time friends and collaborators. Their pairing in the Met’s Der Rosenkavalier, first in 2000 and then again in 2009, now borders on legendary; the Associated Press compared their casting to “some rare alignment of planets, and marveled: “Rarely have the individual vocal lines sounded so crisp and distinct and yet melded together so beautifully.” The two have since reunited time and again, enriching both recordings and live performances with their unique vocal fusion.
This winter they join forces for their first duo recital tour, with an all-French program of duets and songs by Berlioz, Offenbach, Delibes, Saint-Saëns, Fauré, Debussy, Messager, and Hahn, offering a comprehensive and largely lighthearted survey of 19th-century French song. This is Graham’s natural habitat; widely recognized as “unbeatable in French repertoire” (Time Out New York), she has been honored by the French government with the title “Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur.
The singers will be joined on the tour by pianist Bradley Moore, who regularly performs with artists of their caliber (such as Plácido Domingo and Yo-Yo Ma) as well as serving as pianist, vocal coach, and assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera. In addition to accompanying the vocal selections, Moore will play Debussy’s Clair de lune for solo piano.
The upcoming tour takes in six major venues, launching in San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall on Wednesday, January 16, before proceeding to Los Angeles’s Disney Hall (Jan 19); Palm Desert’s McCallum Theatre (Jan 22); Lyric Opera of Chicago (Jan 24); Carnegie Hall’s main stage (Jan 27); and Boston’s Symphony Hall, in the city’s Celebrity Series (Feb 3).
Dallas Opera debut in The Aspern Papers
April marks Susan Graham’s first operatic engagement of 2013, when she heads to the Dallas Opera to make her eagerly anticipated house debut in The Aspern Papers. An adaptation of the Henry James novella by Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Dominick Argento (b.1927), the opera was an original Dallas Opera commission. Its 1988 world premiere impressed the Los Angeles Times as “pretty irresistible,” while the New York Times – dubbing Argento “a melodic athlete” – praised “the kind of set piece rare in opera today.” The Dallas Opera’s new production by Tim Albery, celebrating the 25th anniversary of this opening run, now stars Graham in her role debut as Tina (the part originally created by Frederica von Stade). Graham’s co-stars include Beverley Sills Artist Award-winning baritone Nathan Gunn, tenor Joseph Kaiser, and soprano Alexandra Deshorties. The Dallas Opera’s music director Graeme Jenkins, now in the 20th and final season of his tenure, conducts (April 12-28).
Role debut at Santa Fe Opera
It was in 2002 that the mezzo last sang Offenbach at Santa Fe Opera, in a “brilliant production of La belle Hélène, which delighted audiences…and provided Susan Graham with a star turn encompassing all her gifts” (Opera Today). This summer, she returns to the company for another of Offenbach’s comic gems, giving her first performances in the title role of The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein. Lee Blakeney’s new production will open the company’s season, marking the opera’s first presentation at Santa Fe in 34 years. Graham comments:
“After the enormous success of Offenbach’s La belle Hélène, I’m thrilled to add The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein, another of his comic masterpieces, to my repertoire! And getting to return to my beloved Santa Fe Opera is the icing on the cake. We have a wonderful team in place with the eminently creative, elegant director Lee Blakeley. It will be a beautifully comical treat, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
Under the leadership of Emmanuel Villaume, a noted specialist in French repertory, Graham will head a strong cast directed by Frédéric Chaslin. American tenor Paul Appleby, a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, will play the object of her affections in a love triangle completed by soprano Anya Matanovic.
Recent successes: Virgins, Vixens & Viragos and Les Troyens
These engagements help close out a season that has already proved more than memorable for the mezzo. October saw the release of her second Onyx album, Virgins, Vixens & Viragos, which focuses on iconic female characters of history, literature, and song. Accompanied by her frequent collaborator Malcolm Martineau, Graham’s recital encompasses the full range of emotions in works by Purcell, Poulenc, Berlioz, Schubert, Schumann, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Duparc, Porter, Sondheim, Wolf, and Joseph Horovitz. As the UK’s Sunday Times noted: “It’s hard to think of another contemporary singer who could pull off the tour de force Graham achieves here, with numbers ranging over a period of almost 300 years.”
The singer scored a similar success in Les Troyens this winter: “Graham triumphed in her first Met performance as Didon (Dido), the Queen of Carthage, proclaimed the New York Times. A revival of Francesca Zambello’s celebrated staging, the production boasted grand-scale musical forces and a stellar cast that included Deborah Voigt as Trojan prophetess Cassandra. Nonetheless, it was “the serene and enduring artistry of Susan Graham” that the New Yorker considered a great reason to catch the revival.” The Huffington Post pronounced her “exquisite, with a “voice…like crystal, luxuriant in coloring and texture, and always thrilling to hear.” And the New York Times concluded: “The big news is the mezzo-soprano Susan Graham…whose portrayal is sumptuous, regal, and impassioned.”
Details of Susan Graham’s upcoming engagements follow, and additional information is provided at
Susan Graham: upcoming engagements
Jan 16
San Francisco, CA
Davies Symphony Hall
Recital with Renée Fleming
Jan 19
Los Angeles, CA
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Los Angeles Philharmonic
Recital with Renée Fleming
Jan 22
Palm Desert, CA
McCallum Theatre for the Performing Arts
Recital with Renée Fleming
Jan 24
Chicago, IL
Lyric Opera of Chicago
Civic Opera House
Recital with Renée Fleming
Jan 27
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium)
Recital with Renée Fleming
Feb 3
Boston, MA
Symphony Hall
Recital with Renée Fleming
April 12, 14, 17, 20, & 28
Dallas, TX
The Dallas Opera
Argento: The Aspern Papers (Tina)
June 28-Aug 24
Santa Fe, NM
Santa Fe Opera
Offenbach: The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein (title role)

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