Susan Bickley is regarded as one of the most accomplished mezzo-sopranos of her generation, with a wide repertory encompassing the Baroque, the great 19th and 20th century dramatic roles, as well as contemporary repertoire. In May 2011 she received the prestigious Singer Award at the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards, the highest recognition for live classical music in the UK.
Highlights of her 2019/20 season include Marcellina in The Marriage of Figaro, for English National Opera; Kabanicha Káťa Kabanová in a revival of Richard Jones’ acclaimed Royal Opera House production for Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, and a return to Welsh National Opera for Cook The Nightingale. On the concert platform, she performs Auntie in Peter Grimes with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Edward Gardner.
Recent operatic highlights include Herodias in Adena Jacob’s new production of Strauss Salome for English National Opera, Kabanicha Káťa Kabanová and Matron The Nose at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Paulina in Ryan Wigglesworth’s world premiere of The Winter’s Tale for English National Opera, and Genevieve in Debussy Pelléas et Mélisande for Garsington Opera. Bickley has performed with Opera North as Kostelnicka in Janáček Jenůfa, as well as Waltraute Götterdämmerung and Fricka Die Walküre in Wagner’s Ring Cycle; she also returned to Welsh National Opera to sing Marcellina in The Marriage of Figaro, a role she reprised in summer 2016 at Glyndebourne Festival Opera. Previous highlights include Herodias Salome at Dallas Opera and San Francisco Opera, Messagiera Orfeo with the Royal Opera House at the Roundhouse; Mother in the world premiere of Tansy Davies’ Between Worlds, and Jocasta in the world premiere of Julian Anderson’s Thebans, all for English National Opera; Kabanicha Katya Kabanova at Opéra de Paris, Kostelnicka Jenůfa, Baba the Turk The Rake’s Progress and Mrs Grose The Turn of the Screw at Glyndebourne, Irene Theodora, Ludmilla The Bartered Bride, Aksinya Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Babulenka The Gambler; Virgie Anna Nicole at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and Madre in Nono’s Al gran sole carico d’amore at the Staatsoper Berlin and Salzburg Festival.
Recent highlights on the concert stage include Dido in Purcell Dido and Aeneas in Boston with the Handel and Haydn society, conducted by Harry Christophers, Fricka in Wagner Das Rheingold for the Hallé with Mark Elder, Thomas Adès America: A Prophecy with the BBC Philharmonic, as Baba the Turk in Stravinsky The Rake’s Progress at the Edinburgh International Festival, and George Benjamin Into the Little Hill at Lincoln Center. Bickley has also sung Irene Theodora with the Internationale Händel-Festspiele Göttingen, Tippet’s A Child of Our Time with the Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Hallé. She made her debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra under Gustavo Dudamel in Knussen’s Where the Wild Things Are, her Carnegie Hall debut singing Stravinsky Requiem Canticles; has sung Ligeti Requiem and George Benjamin Upon Silence at the Salzburg Festival; and opened the 2008 Edinburgh International Festival. She regularly appears at the BBC Proms.
On the recital stage, Bickley has appeared with Roger Vignoles at the Kennedy Center in Washington, with Iain Burnside at Wigmore Hall and Spitalfields Festival, and with Julius Drake at St John Smith’s Square and Oxford Lieder Festival.
Bickley’s other recorded repertoire includes songs by Ivor Gurney with Iain Burnside; Handel Serse, Theodora, Solomon; Purcell The Fairy Queen, Dido and Aeneas; Vivaldi Juditha triumphans; Reynaldo Hahn Songs; George Benjamin Upon Silence; Thomas Adès America: A Prophecy; and Simon Bainbridge Ad ora incerta and Primo Levi songs.