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Susan Graham

Susan Graham, one of the world's foremost stars of opera and recital, is a compelling and versatile singing actress. Celebrated as an expert in French music, Graham has been honored by the French government with the title "Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur."

In the coming season, the "peerless American mezzo" (New York Observer) will take on a number of favorite roles. At Teatro Real Madrid and at her home company, New York's Metropolitan Opera, Graham stars opposite Plácido Domingo in the title role of Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride, on which she has already "put her own stamp" (Chicago Tribune). At Houston Grand Opera, she reprises her "breath stopping" (Independent, UK) portrayal of the Composer in Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, and with the Philadelphia Orchestra, she sings Marguerite in Berlioz's Damnation de Faust, a role in which she's previously been hailed as "terrific" by The New York Times. The Grammy Award-winner also opens the new season with Chausson, revisiting his Poème de l'amour et de la mer with the Orchestre de Paris.

Last season, she sang Mahler's Rückert-Lieder with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony and recorded the song cycle for the Symphony's own record label. After an October return to the Metropolitan Opera for a signature role - Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier - Graham portrayed Dido in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Nicholas McGegan on the West Coast. Lyric Opera of Chicago welcomed her back for her first company performances in Berlioz's Damnation de Faust, which she performed during the 2008-09 season at the Met and in The Met: Live in HD. In April with Houston Grand Opera, she took on the title role in Handel's Xerxes (Serse), singing the famous aria "Ombra mai fù." Graham closed out the 2009-10 season performing Chausson's Poème de l'amour et de la mer with the New York Philharmonic under Sir Andrew Davis.

Graham is a leader in the international Christoph Gluck opera revival. She has sung the title role of Iphigénie en Tauride in a new production staged for her by the Metropolitan Opera, and at Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The Chicago Tribune wrote, "Graham put her own stamp on the part, bringing both nobility and vibrant vocal beauty to her affecting performance."

At home and abroad, Susan Graham has sung leading roles from the 17th to 20th centuries in the great opera houses of the world, including Milan's La Scala, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Vienna State Opera, Opéra national de Paris, Dresden's Semperoper, and the Salzburg Festival, and she has appeared with many of the world's leading conductors and orchestras. Dubbed "America's favorite mezzo" by Gramophone magazine, Graham captivates audiences with her expressive voice, tall and graceful stature, and engaging acting ability in both comedy and tragedy.

Three years ago, her season finale was Handel's Ariodante with San Francisco Opera. In the words of the San Francisco Chronicle, "Susan Graham added one more entry to her long list of triumphs with the company, turning in a performance marked by nobility and technical bravura."

Graham created the part of Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking for San Francisco Opera, and created leading roles in two Metropolitan Opera world premieres: An American Tragedy by Tobias Picker and The Great Gatsby by John Harbison.

Two seasons ago, Graham expanded her distinguished discography with two recordings: Un frisson français with pianist Malcolm Martineau, a survey of a century of French song; and her famous interpretation of Berlioz's La mort de Cléopatre, recorded with the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle and released by EMI Classics. Earlier solo CDs include Poèmes de l'amour, with Ravel's Shéhérazade and Chausson's Poème de l'amour et de la mer. Her disc of Charles Ives songs with Pierre-Laurent Aimard won a Grammy, and she received both a Grammy nomination and France's Maria Callas award for her Dido in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. A New York Times review stated, "Ms. Graham ... paints Dido as passionate from the start. 'When I am laid in earth' is as wrenching an account as you'll find on disc."

Her complete opera recordings range from Handel's Alcina and Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride to Barber's Vanessa and Heggie's Dead Man Walking. Graham's Dido in Les Troyens, recorded live for DVD at the Paris Châtelet, was praised by Gramophone as "moving and intense ... strongly acted and magnificently sung."

Born in New Mexico and raised in Texas, Susan Graham studied at Texas Tech University and the Manhattan School of Music, which awarded her an honorary Doctor of Music in 2008. She won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the Schwabacher Award from San Francisco Opera's Merola Opera Program, as well as a Career Grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation. Graham was Musical America's 2004 Vocalist of the Year, and in 2006 her hometown of Midland, Texas declared September 5 "Susan Graham Day" in perpetuity.
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