Fresh from her appearances in Lehár's The Merry Widow at the Opéra National de Paris and Berlioz's La mort de Cléopâtre with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, as well as a successful run of Australian recitals in Melbourne and Sydney, Susan Graham continues an action-packed 2012. After a European recital tour in June, she returns to the United States for three important summer engagements: she opens Napa Valley's Festival del Sole with a gala concert on July 13; she appears as Marguerite in Berlioz's La damnation de Faust on July 28 at Tanglewood; and she hosts "Susan Graham and Friends" at the Santa Fe Opera (August 4). Graham, who has received word that she is the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award presented by San Francisco Opera's Merola Opera Program, is gearing up for her return to the Met in December and for a recital tour with Renée Fleming that stops at Carnegie Hall in January.
For Graham's June recital tour of Europe, which takes her to Madrid, Strasbourg, London, and Paris, the mezzo will present works inspired by iconic female characters of history, literature, and song. The program is the same one she took on her acclaimed recent North American tour, and comprises works by Purcell, Berlioz, Schubert, Schumann, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Duparc, Wolf, Horovitz, and Poulenc. In its review of her performance at Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall during that tour, the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "This was an evening marked by expansive intelligence in the planning, and artistic grace and precision in the execution," singling out "Graham's abundant musical gifts, including her strong, honeyed vocal tone, impeccable control and a dramatic approach that manages to be at once patrician and homey."
Graham will open the seventh annual Napa Valley Festival del Sole on July 13 with a gala concert in the exquisite courtyard of the Castello di Amorosa, a medieval-style Tuscan villa with breathtaking views of the surrounding vineyards. For this Baroque-themed evening, Graham will perform a selection of Handel arias with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra conducted by Nicholas McGegan.
At Tanglewood, Graham will appear in Berlioz's La damnation de Faust (July 28) as Marguerite, a role for which she is widely renowned. Describing her Marguerite at the Metropolitan Opera in 2008, the New York Times wrote that she was an "inspired choice" for the part, adding that she was "especially fine in D'amour, l'ardente flamme... [bringing] a lovely blend of rapturous richness and elegant restraint to this wistful aria." Joining Graham for the concert performance with the Boston Symphony Orchestra led by conductor Charles Dutoit are Willard White as Méphistophélès and Paul Groves as Faust, as well as the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and PALS Children's Chorus.