Sarah Connolly

Born in County Durham, Sarah Connolly studied piano and singing at the Royal College of Music, of which she is now a Fellow.  She was made a DBE in the 2017 Birthday Honours, having previously been made a CBE in the 2010 New Year’s Honours.  In 2011 she was honoured by the Incorporated Society of Musicians and presented with the Distinguished Musician Award. She is the recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s 2012 Singer Award.

Highlights in her 2017/18 season include her debut at the Wiener Staatsoper in a new production of Ariodante, the title role in Giulio Cesare at the Glyndebourne Festival and Brangäne Tristan und Isolde for the Gran Teatro del Liceu.

Past highlights have included Fricka (Covent Garden & Bayreuther Festspiele) Brangäne Tristan und Isolde (Covent Garden & Festspielhaus Baden-Baden); Komponist Ariadne auf Naxos and Clairon Capriccio (Metropolitan Opera); the title role in Giulio Cesare, Brangäne and Gertrude in the world premiere of Brett Dean’s Hamlet (Glyndebourne Festival); the title role in Ariodante and Sesto La clemenza di Tito (Festival d’Aix-en-Provence); Purcell’s Dido (Teatro alla Scala & Covent Garden); Jocaste in Enescu’s Œdipe (Covent Garden); Gluck’s Orfeo and the title role in The Rape of Lucretia (Bayerische Staatsoper); Phèdre Hippolyte et Aricie (Opéra national de Paris) and the title role in Agrippina and Nerone L’Incoronazione di Poppea (Gran Teatro del Liceu).

She has also sung the title role in Maria Stuarda and Roméo I Capuleti e i Montecchi (Opera North); Komponist (Welsh National Opera) and Octavian Der Rosenkavalier (Scottish Opera).  A favorite at the English National Opera, her many roles for the company have included Geschwitz Lulu; Octavian; the title roles in Charpentier’s Medée and Handel’s Agrippina, Xerxes, Ariodante and Ruggiero Alcina; the title role in The Rape of Lucretia; Didon Les Troyens; Roméo, Susie The Silver Tassie and Sesto – for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera.

The future sees her return to the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, the Opéra national de Paris and make her debut at the Teatro Réal in Madrid.

Her many concert engagements include appearances at the Lucerne, Salzburg, Tanglewood and Three Choirs Festivals and at the BBC Proms where, in 2009, she was a memorable guest soloist at The Last Night.  Other notable engagements have included The Dream of Gerontius (Boston Symphony Orchestra/Sir Colin Davis & Mozarteumorchester Salzburg/Bolton); Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 at the BBC Proms (LSO/Haitink); A Child of our Time and Brangäne (Berliner Philharmoniker/Rattle); Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (Leipzig Gewandhausorchester/Chailly, Boston Symphony Orchestra/von Dohnanyi & Philadelphia Orchestra/Nézet-Séguin); Das Lied von der Erde (Concertgebouworkest/Harding, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra/Nézet-Séguin & LPO/Jurowski); Des Knaben Wunderhorn (L’Orchestre des Champs-Elysées/Herreweghe) and La mort de Cléopâtre (Hallé/Elder, CBSO/Gardner & BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis).

She has appeared in recital in London, New York, Boston, Paris, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, San Francisco, Atlanta, Stuttgart; at the Incontri in Terra di Siena La Foce and the Schubertiada Vilabertran and at the Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Edinburgh and Oxford Lieder Festivals.

Committed to promoting new music, her world premiere performances include two re-discovered songs by Benjamin Britten (BBC Proms 2018) with Joseph Middleton; Sir john Tavener’s Gnosis, (BBC Proms); songs by Mark Anthony Turnage, Sally Beamish and Dame Judith Weir, Jonathan Harvey.

  • Tenebrae join the Aurora Orchestra with mezzo soprano Dame Sarah Connolly and narrator Simon Callow for ‘A Walk with Ivor Gurney’, an album of choral music celebrating the works of Ivor Gurney whose promising career as a composer was interrupted by World War I. Alongside four pieces of Gurney’s own music are works by his contemporaries, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Herbert Howells. The recording features a new piece by Judith Bingham commissioned by Tenebrae in 2013 for the choir with Dame Sarah Connolly.

    ★★★★★ The Mail Online

    Performance ★★★★ Recording ★★★★ Beautifully sung by Nigel Short's Tenebrae - BBC Music Magazine Orchestra and wordless choir combining to ravishing effect - The Arts Desk

    Nigel Short’s peerless Tenebrae singers, backed by the Aurora Orchestra, offer nothing but sorrowful beauty and multiple reasons to give thanks - The Times

    A nourishing, thoughtfully compiled release  - Gramophone The remarkably imaginative concept of this release reveals Signum as a most innovative company - Cathedral Music The orchestra marvellously supportive and Tenebrae exemplary - Classical Source [Dame Sarah Connolly] brings a great warmth here, vocally but also in terms of her response to the poetryBBC Radio 3 Record Review Throughout this disc the singing of Tenebrae confirms their stature as one of the UK’s premier chamber choirs […] Tenebrae have done the memory of Ivor Gurney proud - MusicWeb International
  • Lorin Maazel and the Philharmonia Orchestra perform Mahler’s Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Symphonies. This is the final set in Signum’s set of Mahler’s Nine Symphonies, featuring live orchestral recordings from London’s Royal Festival Hall of Maazel and the Philharmonia’s much- lauded Mahler Cycle. CDs1&2 - Symphony No.7 Philharmonia Orchestra, Lorin Maazel CDs3&4- Symphony No.8, Symphony of a Thousand:  Sally Matthews Magna Peccatrix Ailish Tynan Una pœnitentium Sarah Tynan Mater Gloriosa Sarah Connolly Mulier Samaritana Anne-Marie Owens Maria Ægyptiaca Stefan Vinke Doctor Marianus Mark Stone Pater Ecstaticus Stephen Gadd Pater Profundus Philharmonia Voices & & BBC Symphony Chorus Choir 1 Philharmonia Chorus Choir 2 Boys of Eton College Chapel Choir Philharmonia Orchestra, Lorin Maazel CDs5&6 - Symphony No.9 Philharmonia Orchestra, Lorin Maazel How the Philharmonia strings manage to sustain intensity in a mere thread of sound through those halting, valedictory final bars is something to marvel atBBC Music Magazine The stars of this performance are the choruses, who always sound crisp, clear and utterly engaged; they're also wonderfully intense when it matters...there's a rare sense of total connection here, of a profound musical experience gratefully shared. I was gripped to the very end - MusicWeb International Maazel could sustain this score in a way that seemed to transcend reality... a tremendously moving experience - Classical Source An extraordinary reading of the Ninth... a performance touched by greatness - MusicWeb International
  • 2012 marks the 15th anniversary of the first release from the leading independent classical label Signum Records. Beginning life as an early music specialist (with a landmark release of the Complete Works of Thomas Tallis with Chapelle du Roi), Signum has grown since 1997 to a catalogue of over 300 releases across a wide range of genres. In this Art Song collection we bring together performances from across Signum's catalouge by singers including John Mark Ainsley, Sarah Connolly, Philip Langridge, Felicity Lott, Mark Padmore, Andrew Kennedy, Roderick Williams, Ailish Tynan and Hila Plitmann. This generous culling of 25 songs from 20 albums released in the past 15 years has a delectable cast of British and Irish voices in songs from Beethoven to Weir - BBC Music Magazine
  • At the time of its first performances in 1846, Elijah was hailed as one of the great oratorios alongside Handel’s Messiah. It tells the story of the prophet with imposing grandeur, inspirational orchestration and beautiful arias, recitatives and choruses. This mighty piece requires mighty orchestral and choir forces and Gabrieli singers are reinforced with talented young singers from the Gabrieli Young Singers’ Scheme and the Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir. This recording sees over 440 musicians taking part, including 92 string players and over 300 singers.
    The musical milieu is still Victorian but, rather like the cleaned-up Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens, it gleams anew and radiates light. ... a definite first choice - The Telegraph In all this is staggeringly good. Approaching the work in this way fills a gap which I didn’t even realise was there, but now I’ve heard it I think it will be first choice for a while to come. Thoroughly recommended - Presto Classical
  • In this live recording from the Royal Festival Hall the OAE shines its musical torch into the realms of some later repertoire, shedding new light on the music of Mahler. Conducted by Principal Artist Vladimir Jurowski, this CD includes Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer), written in the wake of an unhappy affair with a soprano, and the extraordinarily exciting and powerful Totenfeier, Mahler’s first foray into orchestral music, and later reworked into the opening movement of his second symphony.
    The OAE's period instruments emphasise its rawness, just as they point up the anguished detail of the accompaniments to the Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen, in which mezzo Sarah Connolly allows the words and Mahler's treatment of them to speak for themselves, without unnecessary gilding - The Guardian Vladimir Jurowski’s brisk and thrusting account with the period instrument players of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment makes a strong case for the composer’s original thoughts - The Irish Times
  • Following Sarah Connolly's series of title roles at English National Opera, Glyndebourne and New York's Metropolitan Opera in 2005, this live recital was recorded at St. John's, Smith Square, London, having been premiered at Carnegie Hall earlier in the year. Accompanied by Eugene Asti, Sarah Connolly sings songs by Haydn, Brahms, Hahn, Korngold and Weill. Her distinctive, intelligent, warm, bright-sounding mezzo-soprano will be enjoyed by her growing 'army' of fans in this rich, romantic repertoire. Hugely impressive disc, testifying to the versatility and range of a singer who has already drawn comparisons with Janet Baker - The Guardian One of our most refined mezzos - The Observer Exquisitely articulated and accompanied - BBC Music Magazine A national treasure - The Evening Standard Connolly's lovely singing reaches to the sensuous core - The Daily Telegraph
  • Erich Korngold is perhaps best known as the pioneering émigré composer whose grand orchestral scores defined the sound of film during the golden age of Hollywood. As well as this though, his output for voice in the form of Lieder and Song highlighted the strong bond that Korngold forever held with his homeland and the city of Vienna, a place inextricably linked to the High-Romantic style that Korngold so ably perfected. This collection of songs and lieder are beautifully performed by Sarah Connolly (mezzo-soprano) and William Dazeley (baritone), accompanied by renowned pianist and broadcaster Iain Burnside. In a feature for BBC Music Magazine in June 2013, Sarah Connolly picked this disc as her favourite recording, saying: "We recorded this in the lovely Potton Hall in East Anglia. I was in very fresh voice, and the producer John West was very encouraging and left me to my own devices. But when listened to the playback I couldn't believe how closely miked I sounded - you could hear the formation of consonantseverythingJohn said 'Don't worry, we've got it in hand, we'll make it sound right.' When listened to the final recording I couldn't believe how clean it sounded. I now use it as an example of how I'd like my voice to sound."
  • Combining Gerorian chant with his own unique compostional style, Duruflé's Requiem has proved to be one of the most popular and enduring choral works of the 20th Century. On this recording, Jeremy Backhouse leads the celebrated Vasari Singers, as well as star soloists Sarah Connolly and Christopher Maltman , in a performance of this alongside works by Duruflé's musical contemporary, Jean-Jaques Grunenwald. The singing of the Vasari Singers is nothing short of superb… The catalogue boasts several fine recordings of the Duruflé Requiem but I think this one is now first choice, its attraction enhanced by the imaginative couplings - MusicWeb International ★★★★★ This superb disc is very strongly recommended - Musical Opinion Magazine
  • Pianist Malcolm Martineau brings together some of the UK’s finest singers for the second release in a new series charting the complete songs of French composer Gabriel Fauré.
    ★★★★ Another lovely evening in an imaginary salon… Connolly is at her best, capturing the controlled, yet rapturous passion of this achingly beautiful cycleBBC Music Magazine Malcolm Martineau, the mastermind behind the project, is, as always, the ideal accompanist. Readers who bought the first volume need not hesitate, and those who didn’t are well advised to try this second instalment before buying volume one - MusicWeb International