Parlando: The COC Blog

8/23/2011

Susan Graham: A Shimmering Voice

 

[This interview by Joseph So originally appeared at La Scena Musicale. With the permission of the author, we are republishing a portion of it here]

To those of us who love opera and are followers of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions – Met Auditions for short – 1988 was a vintage year. All eleven finalists enjoyed respectable careers, with four of them reaching "authentic star" status – sopranos Renée Fleming and Patricia Racette, mezzo Susan Graham, and of course Canada's own Ben Heppner. Now 23 years later, these four artists continue to thrill audiences at important houses around the world. New Mexico-born, Texas-raised mezzo Susan Graham has become a particularly beloved artist, praised for her shimmering high mezzo and dramatic intensity. Toronto opera audiences are eagerly anticipating her Canadian opera debut, in the title role of Iphigenia in Tauris for the Canadian Opera Company. The Robert Carsen production, so far seen at the Chicago Lyric, San Francisco, Covent Garden and Teatro Real in Madrid the last few seasons, received uniform praise for its ability to cut through the trappings of grand opera and tap into the emotional core of Gluck's masterpiece. Last month I had a phone conversation with Susan Graham, who was enjoying some downtime at home in Santa Fe, NM. In between bites of lunch, Graham patiently answered my barrage of questions:

LSM: Your fans are looking forward to your return to Toronto. I think we last heard you in a recital at Roy Thomson Hall 10 years ago, in a program of mostly Ned Rorem songs if I remember correctly. Was that the last time you sang in Toronto?
SG: That was a few years ago! Wait – didn't I sing Les nuits d'ete with the Symphony? I don't remember which came first...

LSM: Have you sung elsewhere in Canada?
SG: Yes, I sing in Montreal quite often – in fact I'll be there August 7 at the Lanaudiere Festival. I've also sung in Quebec City and Edmonton.

LSM: And now we get to hear you in opera! Let's talk at little bit about Iphigenia – it seems to be your most frequently performed role, is that correct?
SG: It's certainly true the past few years, largely because of this wonderful production by Robert Carsen. We've done in in many places. It's a fantastic production that audiences love.

LSM: But you'll have different colleagues in Toronto...
SG: Yes, Russell Braun and Joseph Kaiser. I love those guys, it's going to be fantastic!

Read the full interview at La Scena Musicale.

Photo: Susan Graham in the Lyric Opera of Chicago production of Iphigenia in Tauris, 2006. Photo © Robert Kusel

Posted by Joseph So / in 2011/2012 / comments (0) / permalink


Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001