Susan Graham, one of the world's foremost opera stars, began her tenure as Artistic Advisor to LA Opera's Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program in the 2017/18 season. In this new role, Ms. Graham is in residence for at least ten weeks each season. She provides direct mentorship to the young artists in the skills, methodologies and philosophies required for building a long-term career like her own. She echoes Mr. Domingo's philosophy for the program, which is designed to refine potential to create complete artists—insightful, sensitive and communicative—not just skilled technicians. She also works with the company's artistic leadership team to create performance opportunities for the participants, both at LA Opera and beyond.
"It’s a real privilege to partner with Plácido Domingo on such an important program," said Ms. Graham. “I can’t wait to share what I have learned and experienced over my career with a new generation and to help these young artists find their most expressive, most committed voices. What a bonus that it’s in Los Angeles, one of my new residences. I’ve always felt very at home at the LA Opera, and now even more so."
Susan Graham – hailed as “an artist to treasure” by the New York Times – rose to the highest echelon of international performers within just a few years of her professional debut, mastering an astonishing range of repertoire and genres along the way. Her operatic roles span four centuries, from Monteverdi’s Poppea to Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, which was written especially for her. She won a Grammy Award for her collection of Ives songs, and her recital repertoire is so broad that 14 composers from Purcell to Sondheim are represented on her most recent Onyx album, Virgins, Vixens & Viragos. This distinctly American artist has also been recognized throughout her career as one of the foremost exponents of French vocal music. Although a native of Texas, Ms. Graham was awarded the French government’s prestigious “Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur,” both for her popularity as a performer in France and in honor of her commitment to French music.
Ms. Graham’s earliest operatic successes were in such trouser roles as Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro. Her technical expertise soon brought mastery of Mozart’s more virtuosic roles, like Sesto in La Clemenza di Tito, Idamante in Idomeneo and Cecilio in Lucio Silla, as well as the title roles of Handel’s Ariodante and Xerxes. She went on to triumph in two iconic Richard Strauss mezzo roles, Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier and the Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos. These brought her to prominence on all the world’s major opera stages, including the Met, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Covent Garden, Paris Opera, La Scala, Bavarian State Opera, Vienna State Opera and the Salzburg Festival, among many others. In addition to creating the role of Sister Helen Prejean in the world-premiere production of Dead Man Walking at San Francisco Opera, she sang the leading ladies in the Met’s world premieres of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby and Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy, and made her Dallas Opera debut as Tina in a new production of The Aspern Papers by Dominick Argento. As Houston Grand Opera’s Lynn Wyatt Great Artist, she starred as Prince Orlofsky in the company’s first staging of Die Fledermaus in 30 years, before heading an all-star cast as Sycorax in the Met’s Baroque pastiche The Enchanted Island and making her rapturously received musical theater debut in a new production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.
Among the mezzo’s many honors are Musical America’s Vocalist of the Year and an Opera News Award. Gramophone magazine has dubbed her “America’s favorite mezzo.”