Susan Graham is garnering exceptional reviews for her return to the Metropolitan Opera as the 17-year-old Count in Richard Strauss’s Rosenkavalier. The New York Times declares the role of Octavian “one of Ms. Graham’s signature achievements”; the New York Post states that her “honeyed tone and smooth vibrato suggest a young man’s androgynous voice”; and, according to the AP, she “surpassed herself, singing with compelling urgency and aching beauty of tone, and creating an endearing portrait of an impetuous youth.” But the Queen of Carthage is waiting in the wings: the versatile Graham’s next engagements are concert performances of the oldest English opera in the repertoire, Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, which she’ll sing six times in November in the Bay Area and Los Angeles with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra led by Nicholas McGegan.
Graham’s 2004 Virgin Classics recording of Dido and Aeneas earned praise not unlike that for her latest Octavian. The New York Times wrote of the CD: “‘When I am laid in earth’ is as wrenching an account as you’ll find on disc,” while Classics Today observed: “Susan Graham blends her signature warmth with a great deal of sweet wistfulness, particularly in the famous aria ... in which her melancholy is matched by a chromatically descending bass line.”
Immediately after her six concerts with the Philharmonia Baroque, a resident favorite in the Bay Area, Graham gives two recitals with her longtime piano collaborator, Malcolm Martineau. In Carmel, California and St. Paul, Minnesota, the two return to another area of repertoire with which Graham is very comfortable: French song. Last season, on their CD Un frisson français and the accompanying tour, they traversed French songs by nearly two dozen composers, earning enthusiastic reviews at home and abroad. Whether for the concert performances or the album, these reviews were all but interchangeable; a comment in London’s Sunday Times is representative:
“Graham’s superb pianist, Martineau, is the begetter of what he calls a menu gourmand, and with the help of Graham’s velvet mezzo and beautifully enunciated French, it is served up sumptuously.”
On New Year’s Day 2010, Susan Graham returns to the Metropolitan Opera as Octavian.
San Francisco, CA
Palo Alto, CA
First United Methodist Church
November 7 and 8
First Congregational Church
Los Angeles, CA
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Sunset Cultural Center
St. Paul, MN
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts