Mezzo-Soprano

Dame Sarah Connolly

Sarah Connolly was made a DBE in the 2017 Birthday Honours

© Jan Capinski

Introduction

Highlights in Dame Sarah’s 2016/17 season include Geschwitz Lulu (English National Opera) and Gertrude in the world premiere of Brett Dean’s Hamlet (Glyndebourne Festival).  On the concert platform she performs Fricka Das Rheingold (Boston Symphony Orchestra/Nelsons); Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (Hamburg Symphoniker/Tate) and Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 (LPO/ Jurowski) and Das Lied von der Erde (Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Haitink).  She gives the opening recital of the Wigmore Hall’s 2016/17 season with Malcolm Martineau; as well as recitals in Amsterdam with Julius Drake and in Atlanta, San Francisco and New York with Joseph Middleton.


Video & Audio

Performance Schedule

Performance Schedule

From The Green Room

Discography

  • 13 Jun 17 Brett Dean Hamlet
    Glyndebourne Festival Opera
    More info  

    “Sarah Connolly is on excellent form, all tiaras and condescension and cracking veneer as Gertrude.”
    Erica Jeal, The Guardian, 12 June 2017

    “Dean undoubtedly benefited from a dream cast: Sarah Connolly as a distraught Gertrude, matronly and sexy as she does so well.”
    Cara Chanteau, The Independent, 13 June 2017

    “The role of Gertrude is wonderfully delineated by Sarah Connolly.”
    Barry Millington, Evening Standard, 13 June 2017

    “In the other major roles Sarah Connolly, Rod Gilfry…add up to a strong cast.”
    Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 12 June 2017

    “Sarah Connolly engrossing in her growing desperation as Gertrude.”
    George Hall, The Stage, 12 June 2017

    “…staged with a sure, straightforward and often blackly comic touch by Neil Armfield, dispensing with well-worn Oedipal interpretations in favour of an open-ended approach that allows Sarah Connolly to present an unusually sympathetic portrayal of the anguished Gertrude.”
    Richard Morrison, The Times, 13 June 2017

    “…in Gertrude’s “There is a willow grows aslant a brook” Sarah Connolly is gifted a gratefully crafted vocal aria.”
    Mark Valencia, What’s on Stage, 12 June 2017

     

  • 08 May 17 Fauré La chanson d’Ève
    With Malcolm Martineau (Signum CD, 2017)
    More info  

    “Central to Volume 2 is La chanson d’Ève, Op 95 to symbolist texts by Charles van Lerberghe, deliciously sung by Sarah Connolly who celebrates both the simplicity and the sensuality of this cycle.”
    Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, 07 May 2017

  • 11 Nov 16 Berg Lulu
    English National Opera
    More info  

    “Sarah Connolly’s lush mezzo helps make lovelorn Countess Geschwitz’s plight genuinely involving.”
    George Hall, The Stage, 10 November 2016

    “Utterly compelling as always is Sara Connolly, bringing an intense desolation to the role of Countess Geschwitz, Lulu’s lesbian admirer who sacrifices everything for her. Berg’s sister was gay, and the depth of Connolly’s performance makes perfect sense of why it is she – when Geschwitz is not otherwise a large role – who closes the opera.”
    Cara Chanteau, The Independent, 10 November 2016

    “ENO has pushed the boat out to cast this show, and there are first-rate performances from…Sarah Connolly (Geschwitz) [and] David Soar (Athlete)…in particular.”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 10 November 2016

    “The Countess Geschwitz is Sarah Connolly, straight out of a 1920s novel about redoubtable women.”
    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 10 November 2016

    “Sarah Connolly harrowing as the devastated Countess Geschwitz.”
    Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, 13 November 2016

    “Perhaps the only truly sympathetic character is Sarah Connolly’s Countess Geschwitz, who sacrifices everything for Lulu while fully self-aware…the very last scene, when the music finally got under my skin with an aching, yearning quality that matched my empathy – a commodity in short supply in this opera – for Connolly’s Countess.”
    David Karlin, Bachtrack, 10 November 2016

    “Sarah Connolly was superb as the pathetic, lovelorn Countess Geschwitz.”
    Peter Reed, Classical Source, 09 November 2016

    “The supporting company is no less distinguished and includes stand-out contributions from some major artists: Sarah Connolly as the emotionally churned Countess Geschwitz.”
    Mark Valencia, What’s on Stage, 10 November 2016

    “Sarah Connolly’s heartbreaking and deliciously buttoned-up Countess Geschwitz, sung with such suppressed passion.”
    Alexandra Coghlan, Broadway World, 10 November 2016

    “Sarah Connolly is splendid as lesbian admirer Countess Geschwitz.”
    Clare Colvin, Express, 13 November 2016

  • 13 Sep 16 Schumann, Mahler, Berlioz, Debussy & Poulenc Recital with Malcolm Martineau (piano)
    Wigmore Hall (Opening of the 2016/17 Season)
    More info  

    “Mezzo-sopranos of a certain build and vocal timbre spend their professional lives flirting with gender distinctions. Tall and straight-limbed, with a cool, clean and supple voice, Sarah Connolly has made her career playing ardent boys and lovestruck soldiers, sometimes in roles written for the castrated superstars of the 18th century. She has inhabited the personalities of aggrieved queens, affronted goddesses and a succession of monstrous mothers: Agrippina, Medea, Phaedra, Jocasta. Does she regret not being a perky bel canto girl next door? I doubt it.

    Handsome in a black velvet frock coat in the first half of her concert, then regal in a heliotrope gown in the second half, Connolly slipped into a succession of ambivalent characters in her Wigmore Hall recital of German lieder and French mélodies with the pianist Malcolm Martineau.

    Death, heartbreak and madness hover over the spring flowers, slumbering infant and wedding dance of Schumann’s Hans Christian Andersen songs, Märzveilchen, Muttertraum and Der Spielmann. Martineau played with a dangerous gleam while Connolly stripped her sound back to a pitiless tone of pewter in Der Soldat.

    Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder were more sculpted than sung, and delivered as though still in the damaged character of the young man who had shot his dearest friend in Der Soldat. In the strange, bass-less writing of Berlioz’s Les nuits d’été there was a morbid sensuality and intense attention to Théophile Gautier’s poetry and its colours: silver (Le spectre de la rose), white (Sur les lagunes), crimson (Absence), black (Au cimetière).

    Debussy’s Chansons de Bilitis shivered and idled exotically, while Poulenc’s Banalités were crisply characterised and urbane. Encores by two female composers, Clara Schumann’s Liebst du um Schönheit and Alma Mahler’s Bei dir ist es traut, closed a recital of remarkable taste, precision and intelligence.”
    Anna Picard, The Times, 13 September 2016 

  • 01 Aug 16 Wagner Das Rheingold & Die Walküre
    Bayreuther Festspiele
    More info  

    “Sarah Connolly’s consummate artistry made one want to be on Fricka’s side in her argument with Wotan.”
    Matthew Rye, Bachtrack, 28 July 2016

    “Sarah Connolly in firm voice as Fricka.”
    Matthew Rye, Bachtrack, 27 July 2016

  • 24 May 16 Enescu Oedipe
    Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
    More info  

    “Sarah Connolly presents a glamorous Jocaste.”
    George Hall, The Stage, 24 May 2016

    “Sarah Connolly makes a fragrant, untouchable Jocasta, whose vocal lines unfold in unbroken arcs of melody, all legato seduction. We understand very well what drawn Oedipe to this glossy creature.”
    Alexandra Coghlan, New Statesman, 25 May, 2016

    “Sarah Connolly lends a dignified devastation to Oedipe’s wife/mother, Jocaste.”
    Mark Valencia, What’s on Stage, 25 May 2016

    “Sarah Connolly responds splendidly to Jocasta’s sensuous music.”
    Barry Millington, Evening Standard, 27 May 2016

    “Queen Jocaste (memorably incarnated by Sarah Connolly).”
    The Independent, 24 May 2016

    “Sarah Connolly underlined the humanity of Jocasta’s relatively brief role with singing of nobility and warmth.”
    Richard Whitehouse, Classical Source, 23 May 2016

    “Sarah Connolly gives a gripping performance here as Jocaste, an unnerving and increasingly fraught presence.”
    Gavin Dixon, Opera Britannia, 24 May 2016

    “Sarah Connolly’s formidable Jocaste resplendent in khaki, potent in voice.”
    Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, 29 May 2016

    “Sarah Connolly [was] Jocaste, and the mezzo sang with formidable focus to evoke the queen’s suffering; despite Enescu supplying Jocaste with some sensuous music, Connolly kept a lid on that sensuality and was detached and dignified as the mother-wife.”
    John Allison, Opera, August 2016

    “…as Jocaste, mezzo Sarah Connolly flaunted physical and vocal glamour.”
    George Hall, Opera News, August 2016

  • 29 Apr 16 Schönberg Gurre-Lieder
    Orchestre de l’Opéra national de Paris/Philippe Jordan
    More info  

    “Grâce à la magnifique mezzo anglaise Sarah Connolly, l’intensité dramatique est à nouveau au rendez-vous pour le récit de la Waldtaube. Formée à l’école du baroque, sachant donner à chaque mot sa charge organique d’affect, son poids charnel d’émotion, elle délivre une leçon de déclamation tragique d’une grandeur bouleversante. D’un maintien hiératique, sans ostentation ni geste factice, d’une voix puissante et sombre, aux inflexions suprêmement expressives, Sarah Connolly aura hissé cette soirée à un sommet des plus impressionnants.”
    Gilles Macassar, Concertclassic.com, 19 April 2016

  • 14 Mar 16 Handel Ariodante
    Dutch National Opera
    More info  

    “Sarah Connolly’s Ariodante remains a compelling portrait of the stricken lover – her ‘Doppo notte’, when the veil of darkness is lifted and Ariodante sees the light of day, was an exhilarating outpouring of joy, its rangy syncopations thrillingly sung.”
    Hugh Canning, Opera, April 2016

  • 28 Oct 15 Mahler Das Lied von der Erde
    Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra/Yannick Nézet-Séguin
    More info  
    “This concert was worth attending just to hear mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly sing the last “ewig” (forever) in Mahler’s Song of the Earth. She modulated it so that it seemed to rise from, then sink into, an eternal vanishing point. Overcome, conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin needed several moments before he could cue the uproarious applause. Mahler was chiefly responsible for the hall paralysed with emotion. For an hour he dangles us on the edge of the abyss, then, just as we are about to be engulfed by misery, floats us on a mist of hope. Ms Connolly must however, share the blame. She was simply magnificent, easily equalling the most illustrious past interpreters of this work.A singer’s concert garb is immaterial, but Ms Connolly’s black gown, trailed with sprays of white appliqué flowers, had an Aubrey Beardsley feel that transported us to the right era for the Mahler.The power of Sarah Connolly’s interpretation was rooted in her complete engagement with the words. Whether in the plunging melancholy of “Der Einsame im Herbst” (The Lonely One in Autumn) or when limpidly describing young women gathering lotus flowers in “Von der Schönheit” (“Of Beauty”), her voice emanated a soft but penetrating radiance. The breadth in the contralto range and the tonal integrity across all registers make hers a truly exceptional instrument. Besides being unutterably moving, her final song, “Der Abschied” (The Farewell) had a sweeping vocal majesty. It advanced, as it should, like a slow-motion tremor tearing the loamy earth to reveal wounds in intense orchestral reds and purples, before melting into those wondrously sung “forevers”.”

    Jenny Camilleri, Bachtrack, 24 November 2015

  • 15 Apr 15 Schubert, Mahler, Copland & Elgar Recital with Joseph Middleton (Piano)
    Alice Tully Hall, New York
    More info  
    “Sarah Connolly, whose superlative matinee on Sunday at Alice Tully Hall had Joseph Middleton at the Steinway, is at the peak of her career.  Mahler’s five ‘Rückert Lieder’ date from 1901-02. Written on either side of that composer’s turbulent courtship of Alma Schindler, they are barely a set at all, and require a wide, even range and a profound emotional sensitivity. For British mezzos especially, the lineage of prior interpreters is daunting, stretching back beyond Janet Baker to Kathleen Ferrier. Ms. Connolly has nothing to fear from the comparison. Her instrument might be strong and luminous, but it also has a fragility, like stained glass. It’s matched to an acute understanding of text and the control to convey it. New depths of darkness and new heights of desperation appeared in each solemn refrain of ‘Um Mitternacht.’ If ‘Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen’ asks the impossible — an enraptured voice lost to time and space — its demands were met, each consonant lingered over and each vowel radiant, adored as if it were the last. Ms. Connolly and the impressive Mr. Middleton flaunted their versatility. Opening with Schubert’s three ‘Ellens Gesänge,’ they brought an otherworldly confidence to the ‘Ave Maria.’ Each of five of Copland’s intriguingly varied ’12 Poems of Emily Dickinson’ had a distinct mood, while in Elgar’s ‘Sea Pictures’ even Ms. Connolly’s breathing seemed part of her supremely noble phrasing. The encores, Handel’s ‘Ombra mai fu’ and Howells’s ‘King David,’ exuded poise and dignity. This was everything a recital should be.”

    David Allen, New York Times, 13 April 2015

  • 27 Jan 15 Copland & Rodney Bennett Sarah Connolly in America
    Tour with the Britten Sinfonia
    More info  

    “The delectable choices made by the Britten Sinfonia were a glorious mix of 20th century Americana, presented in partnership with the fabulous mezzo-soprano, Sarah Connolly. Having witnessed the chemistry between Connolly and the Britten Sinfonia at the 2013 BBC Proms where they chose one of Britten’s last works, the cantata Phaedra, it was undoubtedly going to be the start to a blossoming relationship and one which they have evidently enjoyed already in 2015 as they’ve visited Cambridge, London and Norwich.  Connolly took to the stage for three songs by that masquerading New Yorker, Richard Rodney Bennett (sorely missed since his death in 2012). Snappy rhythms, superb orchestration and a real sense of panache from both soloist and orchestra made the Foxtrot, Slow Foxtrot and Tango from The History of Thé Dansant stand out as some of the best of their genre. The wistful coda at end was most effective and brought one back to reality having been transported through postcards of a holiday of a bygone era. Connolly’s second song cycle of the evening returned to Copland who, like Carter, was composing right up until his final days. The Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson bore more than a little resemblance to Copland’s orchestration of Appalachian Spring, but here the Britten Sinfonia added more brass and woodwind to their rank and file, producing a sound that began to infiltrate even the smallest corners of the Hall. Connolly’s expression and wonderful narrative style drew the audience into the five songs they had decided to perform from the set. Yet again, Copland’s ability to paint the wide American skies and pioneering spirit was plain to hear and a joy to behold.”
    Nathan Waring, Bachtrack, 22 January 2015

    “Sarah Connolly in America ran the title of this Britten Sinfonia programme. But for once, the chamber orchestra, ever expanding its artistic and geographical horizons, was not crossing the Atlantic with its guest star, but presenting a domestic mini-tour, performing in Leeds, Cambridge and Norwich as well as in London’s shiniest (and probably best) concert hall, Milton Court. Designed around Connolly (who also rather gamely gave the pre-concert talks), the programme centred on five of Aaron Copland’s Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson, rounded out by Appalachian Spring, Elliott Carter’s early Elegy for Strings and Ruth Crawford Seeger’s Andante for Strings (adapted by the composer from her 1931 string quartet). Richard Rodney Bennett was also recruited as an adopted American, with Connolly presenting his rarely heard nostalgic song set A History of the Thé Dansant (recorded by Connolly for Chandos a couple of years ago). Soloist and orchestra alike were on rivetingly gorgeous form, Connolly slinking through the Bennett songs with the kind of restrained smoothness that suggests she could simply eat her audience, if the desire took her, before pulling back to the nostalgic tenderness that frames the set. In the Dickinson settings, she sang with a cool, equal directness that perfectly offset the rush of subtly shaded passions rising through the orchestra (Copland transcribed eight of the original 12 songs for small orchestra). And in an encore, so clearly anticipated that the orchestra forgot to bow before setting up for it, Connolly took the microphone for two numbers from the American Songbook (Blues in the Night and But Not for Me, in superb arrangements by Nelson Riddle and Benny Carter), the Sinfonia strings oozing a shine and depth of tone that belied their modest numbers.”

    Guy Dammann, The Guardian, 22 January 2015

  • 05 Dec 14 Wagner Tristan und Isolde
    Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
    More info  
    “Sarah Connolly the warm-toned Brangäne…”

    Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 07 December 2014

    “In Sarah Connolly’s Brangäne, [Nina Stemme] had the perfect foil – a marvellous characterisation…sung with rich expressivity and urgency.”

    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 06 December 2014

    “Sarah Connolly and Iain Paterson, too, both make huge impacts as Brangäne and Kurwenal. So much, in fact, that the anguish of these too-loyal sidekicks becomes in some ways more interesting than the fate of Tristan and Isolde themselves — both of whom seem so imprisoned by past tragedies (Isolde by her lover’s death at Tristan’s hands, Tristan by his mother’s death in childbirth) that their self-destruction seems inevitable.”

    Richard Morrison, The Times, 08 December 2014

    “Iain Patterson and Sarah Connolly, star singers both of course, were impassioned and magnificent as Kurwenal and Brangäne respectively…”

    Mark Valencia, Whats On Stage, 06 December 2014

    “[Connolly] produced one of the outstanding vocal moments of the evening, the ‘Einsam wachend’ in which she urges the lovers to think of her as she watches over them.”

    David Karlin, BachTrack, 06 December 2014

    “Sarah Connolly’s Brangäne [is] superbly accomplished.”

    Barry Millington, Evening Standard, 08 December 2014

    “Sarah Connolly’s Louise Brooks-style Brangäne is exquisitely sung…”

    Michael Church, The Independent, 08 December 2014

    “Also reaching a level of excellence [is] Sarah Connolly as a richly lyrical Brangäne…”
    George Hall, The Stage, 08 December 2014

    “…Connolly’s striking Brangäne, in total command of the role, the voice supple and rich, with wonderful legato and exuding excellent stagecraft. The off-stage warnings of Act Two were ravishing. One anticipates a fabulous Kundry one day…”
    Alexander Campbell, Classical Source, 05 December 2014

    “Sarah Connolly also performs impressively as Isolde’s confidante Brangäne, managing the near impossible feat of not being overshadowed by the power of Nina Stemme.”
    William Hartston, Daily Express, 10 December 2014

    “Sarah Connolly is a sumptuous-toned Brangäne.”
    Sam Smith, Music OMH, 10 December 2014

    “Sarah Connolly’s Brangange is as gripping as you would expect from such a wonderful singer.”
    Stephen Pollard, Jewish Chronicle, 11 December 2014

    “Sarah Connolly makes a fascinating foil as Brangaene”
    Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 08 December 2014

    “Sarah Connolly’s protective Brangäne is superb, in fetching auburn wig.  Her interaction with Kurwenal during the night scene suggests that the maid too has a life of her own.”
    Clare Colvin, Express, 14 December 2014

    “Sarah Connolly makes a spellbinding Brangäne.”
    Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, 14 December 2014

    “Sarah Connolly [is] simply ideal as Brangäne both in the intelligence of [her] acting and in [her] meaning-charged singing”
    Michael Tanner, Spectator, 03 January 2015

    “Sarah Connolly’s lustrous-toned Brangäne supplied mystique…singing with a focus that made her voice quite complementary to Stemme’s.”
    Johhn Allison, Opera, February 2015

  • 04 Nov 14 Mahler Symphony no. 2
    Philadelphia Orchestra/Yannick Nézet-Séguin at Carnegie Hall
    More info  

    “…the mezzo Sarah Connolly, dressed as if she had wandered in from a Klimt portrait, intoned the fourth movement’s primeval light with matchless diction and appreciation for the text.”
    David Allen, New York Times, 02 November 2014

    “[Connolly’s] interpretation of the ‘Urlicht’ began introspective, even shy, but became dazzling as it came out of its shell. When she reentered in the finale, her interjection of ‘O glaube, mein Herz’ was searing, dark-hued, and coursing with a sense of urgency.”
    Eric C. Simpson, New York Classic Review, 01 November 2014

    “The fourth movement ‘Urlicht’ begins with a muffled cry for help to bring mankind into heaven. With the highest poise and control, mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly, who sported what looked like a Klimt painting, served a guide to the light at the end of the tunnel. Her voice is inviting, hovering across the orchestral palette with delicate phrasing and skillfully articulated diction.”

    Jacob Slattery, Bachtrack, 03 November 2014

  • 22 Oct 14 Elgar Sea Pictures & The Dream of Gerontius
    BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis (Chandos CD, 2014)
    More info  

    “Connolly’s Softy and Gently – and Sea Pictures – rivals [Janet] Baker’s in beauty of tone.”
    Hugh Canning, Sunday Times, 19 October 2014

    “Were singing the Angel in The Dream of Gerontius not challenge enough, mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly opens the first disc of this recording with an imposing performance of Elgar’s Sea Pictures, premièred by contralto Dame Clara Butt—costumed as a mermaid!—in 1899. The Sea Pictures discography is dominated by Dame Janet Baker, but Ms. Connolly also recorded a potent performance of the songs with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in 2006. In this recording, she and Maestro Davis create a haunting atmosphere, redolent of the sea and perceptive of the parallels between humanity and maritime nature. In ‘Sea Slumber-Song,’ Ms. Connolly’s quiet singing radiates maternal affection, and her evocation of peace within the tempest in ‘In Haven (Capri)’ is limpidly serene. The imagery of the sea as the medium of connection with the divine in ‘Sabbath Morning at Sea’ is eloquently elucidated by the singer’s vocal confidence and perfect diction. The mystery of ‘Where Corals Lie’ draws both singer and listener into the text, and Ms. Connolly reacts with singing that avoids ponderousness. The grandiloquence of her traversal of ‘The Swimmer,’ recalling not only Baker but Kathleen Ferrier before her, is magnificent, but the voice moves through the music with delicacy and flashes of humor. The brilliance and unflappable security of her top A in the song’s final phrase are eerily reminiscent of the singing of the young Christa Ludwig.

    The Angel in The Dream of Gerontius was first sung by Marie Brema, a versatile singer whose Wagner repertory included Ortrud in Lohengrin, Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde, Fricka in Das Rheingold, the Walküre and Götterdämmerung Brünnhildes, and Kundry in Parsifal. In addition to her substantial achievements in music by Monteverdi, Bach, Händel, Mozart and bel canto, Ms. Connolly has shown in recent seasons that she is a bar-raising interpreter of Wagner, Mahler, and Richard Strauss repertory, as well. She proves in this recording that she is also an eminent portrayer of the Angel in The Dream of Gerontius. Her singing of ‘My work is done’ conveys a palpable sense of relief, and her answer to Gerontius’s Faustian quest for comprehension beyond his capacity, ‘You cannot now cherish a wish which ought not to be wish’d,’ is affectionate rather than arrogant. In Ms. Connolly’s performance, ‘It is because then thou didst fear, that now thou dost not fear’ movingly expresses the Angel’s faith in the redemptive capacity of humility. The Angel’s description of Christ’s time on earth is reverently voiced, and the affecting melodic lines of ‘Thy judgment now is near,’ ‘Praise to His name,’ ‘O happy, suffering soul! for it is safe, consumed, yet quicken’d, by the glance of God,’ and ‘Softly and gently, dearly-ransom’d soul, in my most loving arms I now enfold thee’ are phrased with subtlety and sung with flawless intonation. The pinnacle of Ms. Connolly’s performance is her uplifting assurance of Gerontius that ‘swiftly shall pass thy night of trial here, and I will come and wake thee on the morrow.’ Like Mr. Soar’s performance, the tremendous empathy of her portrayal of the Angel is enhanced immeasurably by the simple beauty of her singing.”
    Joseph Newsome, Voix des Arts, 27 October 2014

    “Arguably best of all, though, is Sarah Connolly, who brings a deeply affecting radiance, sense of wonder and intelligence to everything she does.  Disc 2 also contains a majestic performance of the Gerontius Prelude with its concert ending, while the main offering is preceded by a wholly sympathetic rendering of Sea Pictures, which (once again) finds Connolly in glorious voice. Davis and the BBC SO play their full part in a performance to rival such distinguished forebears as the Baker/Barbirolli (EMI), Greevy/Handley (CfP) and, yes, Connolly’s own conspicuously fresh and rewarding interpretation with Simon Wright and the Bournemouth SO (Naxos, 12/06). Chandos’s thrillingly tangible SACD sound packs an almighty punch in terms of lustre, amplitude and range (Croydon’s Fairfield Hall was the helpful venue). Dare we look forward to The Kingdom and The Apostles from this same source?”
    Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone, November 2014

    “Sarah Connolly gives a strongly characterised reading of the Angel’s music and her ‘Softly and gently’ in envelopingly tender without, crucially, becoming matronly. This Gerontius is a wonderful achievement, a deeply considered interpretation whose convincing spirituality never seems stuffy or over-reverential.  It takes an honoured place among the finest-ever versions of this much-recorded masterpiece, and would unquestionably be my preferred digital version.”
    Terry Blain, BBC Music Magazine, December 2014 (Recording of the Month)

    “[In Sea Pictures] Sarah Connolly as enough vocal muscle to override the orchestra when necessary, but Elgar has seen to it that she rarely has to.  Davis quite rightly brings out Elgar’s imaginative and subtle use of the harp in the lovely fourth song ‘Where corals lie’.  Sample Connolly’s ravishing half tone at ‘Yes, press my eyelids close, ’tis well’ in that same song.  This is a loving performance, beautifully sung an played.  It will do very well well as a new addition to an already lengthy list of favourites.   [In Gerontius] Connolly is a very human Angel, attentive to her charge and with deep compassion.  Yet at many key moments – ‘A presage falls upon thee’, for example – she achieves the slight detachment her role requires.  Vocally she is unchallenged, with some entrancing pianissino singing.”
    William Hedley, International Record Review, November 2014

    “…of the three splendid soloists, Sarah Connolly’s contribution is a very special one – and her affectionate interpretation of Sea Pictures is another strong plus-point; no mere disc-filler, but rather an essential part of this marvellous and truly worthy winner.”
    Christopher Nickol, Gramophone Awards Edition, 2015

  • 07 Oct 14 Monteverdi L'incoronazione di Poppea
    Academy of Ancient Music/Robert Howarth at the Barbican
    More info  

    “It’s not like a cast that also included Sarah Connolly, Iestyn Davies and Matthew Rose was ever going to be lightweight [and] commanding it all was Connolly, athletic and utterly sure in Nero’s flightiest moments of coloratura. Her tyrant was all the more terrifying for not having that seam of weakness we so often see – a calculating, rational bully who sent Matthew Rose’s thundering Seneca (sung as lightly as his manner was deliciously ponderous) to his death with brisk efficiency.”
    Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk, 05 October 2014

    “Sarah Connolly’s Nero was a highlight and Connolly sang throughout with her customary style and panache.”
    Barry Millington, Evening Standard, 06 October 2014

    “Fittingly, Sarah Connolly was utterly authoritative and vocally imposing as the Roman tyrant, Nero. Responsive to every musical detail, physically commanding of presence, gleaming of tone and delivering Monteverdi’s organically evolving structures with sensitivity and suppleness, Connolly was a consummate portrait in blind self-conviction and egoistic assurance. Nero’s ecstatic celebrations following Seneca’s death possessed a wild beauty which was both seductive and deeply unsettling. In Connolly’s subsequent duet with Elmar Gilbertsson’s excellent Lucano, she demonstrated and effortless, florid vocal virtuosity, sculpting a highly dramatic idiom with repeated exclamations and exultations as Nero rejoices in Poppea’s beauty.”
    Claire Seymour, Opera Today, 06 October 2014

  • 22 Sep 14 Schönberg Gurre-Lieder
    London Sinfonietta/Nicholas Collon
    More info  
    “Towards the end of the extended applause that greeted this rare all-Schoenberg concert, the conductor held up his score and pointed to the composer’s name. ‘Don’t forget about the composer’, the gesture reminded us. After all, wasn’t it Schoenberg we were all here for? Not according to the straw poll I conducted in the interval, which confirmed the hall was packed not for Schoenberg, nor even for his daughter Nuria, sitting among the audience, but for Sarah Connolly, present to sing the Wood Dove’s Song from Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder. And what a performance she gave. Despite an excellent live recording of Das Buch der Hängenden Gärten some years ago, it’s still surprising to find Connolly singing this repertoire. But it shouldn’t be: her deep and subtly shaded colours are perfectly suited to a composer for whom the idea of expression relies on a constant sense of flux and growth. Connolly’s deep reserves of power, even so low in her register, kept a sense of the line’s endless unfolding so that the interplay with the chamber orchestra (this was Schoenberg’s reduced version with harmonium and piano) was spontaneous.”

    Guy Dammann, The Guardian, 19 September 2014

  • 28 Jul 14 Mahler Symphony no. 2
    Boston Symphony Orchestra/Manfred Honeck at the Tangelwood Festival
    More info  

    “…the Urlicht brought the rich, dark balm of Connolly’s voice into chiaroscuro relief…as the movement progressed, Tilling joined Connolly at the stage-front—Conolloy’s velvet nap contrasting Tilling’s fine, lustrous silk with great beauty.”
    John Robinson & Emma Kerry, Classical Scene, 27 July 2014

  • 03 Jul 14 Handel Ariodante
    Festival d' Aix-en-Provence
    More info  

    “The British mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly, in superb vocal form, delivered a memorable performance in the role.”
    Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, New York Times, 4 July 2014

    “A strong British artistic presence this year is felt especially in the new staging of Handel’s Ariodante, directed by Richard Jones with Sarah Connolly in the title role. As a butch-looking Ariodante, Connolly gives the performance of the evening, her mezzo smooth and brightly focused. The intensity she brings to ‘Scherza infida’ is underlined by detailed accompaniments from the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, conducted with style by Andrea Marcon.”
    John Allison, The Telegraph, 09 July 2014

    “À côté de cela, Sarah Connolly campe un Ariodante mesuré, digne, nuancé… convaincant.”
    Florent Albrecht, Altamusica, 05 July 2014

    “As a very masculine Ariodante, Sarah Connolly gave the performance of the evening, her mezzo smooth and brightly focused; her coloratura was fleet-footed, especially in the infectious rejoicing of ‘Doppo notte’.  The intensity she brought to ‘Scherza infida’ was underlined by marvellously detailed accompaniments from the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, conducted with lithe stylishness by Andrea Marcon.”
    John Allison, Opera, September 2014

    “L’Ariodante de Sarah Connolly est très stylé et émouvant, d’une grande candeur juvénile.”
    Chantal Cazaux, L’Avant-Scène Opéra, 10 July 2014

  • 08 May 14 Strauss Der Rosenkavalier
    London Symphony Orchestra/Sir Mark Elder
    More info  

    “In glorious voice, and with splendid diction, Sarah Connolly’s Octavian encompassed the full range of emotions, from lovesick puppy to petulant teenager. Donning military jacket and with hair tied back for the ‘Presentation of the Rose’ scene, she brought off ‘love at first sight’ convincingly…Crowe and Connolly intertwined vocal lines seductively in the Rose scene… Both were superb in the final duet ‘Ist ein Traum’…”
    Mark Pullinger, Bach Track, 09 May 2014

    “In the Presentation of the Rose from Act 2 the glorious mezzo of Sarah Connolly as Octavian, combined with Lucy Crowe’s soaring lyric soprano as Sophie, captured the thrill of the blossoming of young love.”
    Barry Millington, The Evening Standard, 9 May 2014

    “There was perfect equilibrium here between the ardent boyishness and desolation of Connolly…”
    David Nice, The Arts Desk, 09 May 2014

    “Her vital characterisation sustained on her full and fleshy mezzo, Sarah Connolly encompassed perfectly the teenage egotism of Octavian, while Lucy Crowe brought flawless transparency to Sophie’s high-flying lines and touching credibility to her essential naivety.”
    George Hall, The Guardian, 09 May 2014

  • 24 Apr 14 Duparc Recital with Malcolm Martineau (piano)
    Wigmore Hall
    More info  
    “In the first half, Connolly took two of [Duparc’s] finest: ‘Au pays où se fait la guerre’, where heartfelt longing is projected on a Wagnerian scale, and ‘L’Invitation au Voyage’, where she effortlessly captured the calm ecstasy of Duparc’s superb Baudelaire setting.  In glorious voice, she evoked the pangs of burgeoning love in the Romance de Mignon and the similarly languorous melancholy in Chanson Triste. Indeed, all her contributions were marked by gleaming tone, impeccable diction and an unerring ability to communicate the emotional state of each setting…Malcolm Martineau did marvels with the quasi-orchestral piano accompaniments, from the rippling arpeggios of ‘L’Invitation’ to the tempestuous seascape of ‘La Vague et la Cloche’, complete with crashing waves and clanging bell.”

    Barry Millington, Evening Standard, 24 April 2014

    “An intoxicating recital from mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly and baritone Henk Neven.  They could have been singing only for each other. At times, listening felt intrusive. Yet, every word drew us in deeper, every note clamoured for attention. It was like eating in a fine restaurant – all aromas, tastes and colours designed to complement one another. That was the impression made by Wednesday’s Wigmore Hall performance from mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly and baritone Henk Neven. Some of the credit, however, goes to their choice of repertoire: the 17 mélodies by the French late Romantic composer Henri Duparc. Based on poetry by Baudelaire and Gautier among others, these songs channel fin-de-siècle decadence to intoxicating effect. Every song is a meal in itself; 17 in a row should really carry a calorie warning. While both singers gorged themselves on its excesses, each shrouded the music in a different character. It was ultimately Connolly, however, who reigned over this recital. Refinement and maturity were her calling cards, both in terms of vocal quality and interpretation. She dealt in minutiae, bringing the intensity to a word such as ‘tortures’ that someone less focused might bring to an entire song. But she never forced the emotion. That’s why the tenderness of ‘Chanson triste’ was so convincing, as well as the intimacy of her take on ‘Extase’. And it’s why her most explosive moments felt as if they had been fully earned. One such moment arrived in the Wagnerian ‘Au pays où se fait la guerre’; another in the rarely-sung duet ‘La fuite’, for which she was joined by Neven. Buoyed by Malcolm Martineau’s piano playing, which, elsewhere, took on thunderous proportions, the singers metamorphosed into larger-than-life characters, clearly relishing the opportunity to flaunt their operatic credentials. It only lasted for one song. But the impression lingered on.”

    Hannah Nepil, Financial Times, 24 April 2014

    “Songlives is the Wigmore Hall concert series dreamt up by lieder supremo Malcolm Martineau to explore a composer’s whole life, chronologically, through his output. In the case of Henri Duparc, any survey unfortunately hits a brick wall: the Frenchman quit composing altogether at the age of 37 (he went on to live another 48 unfecund years). Yet what songs they are! This is the birth of the languorous, philosophically profound, sometimes suffocatingly intense mélodie — the lieder tradition of Schubert and Schumann hosed down with eau de parfum and cognac. It’s a style practically fully formed even in Duparc’s very first song, the mournful Chanson triste, here beautifully unwound by Sarah Connolly. In this early stage of his career, as if to acknowledge his debts to the German tradition, Duparc even wrote his own Romance de Mignon — a seminal lieder text by Goethe — but his is suffused with erotic, ecstatic longing, especially in the repeated refrain of ‘Là-bas’ (over there), which somehow sounds so much sexier than the German ‘dahin’.  With Connolly somehow managing to nab most of the absolute gems from Duparc’s small oeuvre for herself — the gorgeous Baudelaire poem ‘L’invitation au voyage’, the Wagnerian psychodrama of ‘Extase’— the young Dutch baritone Henk Neven had a slightly sterner task. Yet this was less an evening for vocal duels than a fine homage to a great songwriter. Kudos to Martineau for a small but perfectly balanced selection, and he relished Duparc’s rich piano lines — their growing intensity as Duparc matured are a tantalising glimpse of what might have happened if he hadn’t thrown in the towel — with particular love. Debussy and Poulenc were the encores: 20th-century heirs to Duparc’s crown.”

    Neil Fisher, The Times, 25 April 2014

    “Connolly was all tonal opulence and majestically sweeping lines…”

    Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 24 April 2014

  • 07 Apr 14 Elgar The Dream of Gerontius
    BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis
    More info  
    “But once on the threshold of deliverance again there was Sarah Connolly, looking and sounding fabulous, amplifying and intensifying every line of text. The tremulous hush of her repeated Alleluias were so deeply reassuring and in marked contrast to the verbal terror she invoked with the arrival of the demons. The BBC Symphony Chorus sneered their way through that chorus with chilling relish but conserved their biggest blaze of light affirming sound for “Praise to the Holiest”. Davis built that great chorus to a pitch of swinging jubilance, the final moments of it lifting off like peeling bells towards that mightytenuto and crescendo on the final note. Thrilling stuff.  As was Connolly’s final Alleluia – full of ecstasy – and Skelton’s cry of “Take me away” which was invested with a sustained rapture such as I’ve honestly never heard before. Of course, it comes off the back of a more literal than metaphorical lightning strike as the Almighty is glimpsed – but the shock and  awe of that are as nothing compared to ‘the Angel’s farewell’ where Elgar and Connolly conspired in those glorious pages to have us all believing in something.”

    Edward Seckerson, The Arts Desk, 07 April 2014

    “Sarah Connolly as a consummately polished Angel completed the outstanding set of soloists.”
    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 08 April 2014

    “Every time I hear Sarah Connolly as the Angel, there is some new inflection of voice or shaping of phrase that deepens and expands her interpretation. Dressed beautifully like an Arts and Crafts angel, Connolly held Gerontius – and us – in thrall with the consolatory warmth and firmness of her singing. Overwhelming in the white-hot force of her final Alleluia, she moved on to a ‘Softly and gently’ of incomparable, valedictory tenderness.”
    Peter Reed, Classical Source, 06 April 2014

  • 26 Mar 14 Berlioz Les nuits d'été
    London Philharmonic Orchestra/Yannick Nézet-Séguin
    More info  

    “Sarah Connolly’s intimately scaled, impeccably phrased, highly literary interpretation was spiked with intelligent and unusual details, her hands as eloquent as her voice, the colours of Sur les lagunes and Au cimitière closely echoed by the players.”
    Anna Picard, The Times, 28 March 2014

  • 26 Mar 14 JS Bach St John Passion
    Academy of Ancient Music/Richard Egarr (AAM Records CD, 2014)
    More info  

    “…the flair and dramatic concentration with which mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly sings the music of Bach. The naturalness of her phrasing in tandem with the oboes in ‘Von den Stricken meiner Sünden’ is peerless, and she wittily uses the rhythmic figurations to impart a sense of the freedom evoked in the text. The profundity that Ms. Connolly brings to her performance of ‘Es ist vollbracht,’ the weight of feeling never upsetting her preservation of the integrity of the vocal line, is wrenching. The breadth of sorrow is tempered by a captivating element of spiritual victory, communicated by the unsentimental simplicity of Ms. Connolly’s utterance and the unassailable pulchritude of her voice.”
    Voix des Arts, 26 March 2014

    “…the noble stillness of Sarah Connolly’s ‘Es ist vollbracht’…”
    Lindsay Kemp, Gramophone, April 2014

  • 17 Feb 14 Britten The Rape of Lucretia
    Orchestra of the English National Opera/Paul Daniel (Opus Arte DVD, 2013)
    More info  

    “Creada para Kathleen Ferrier y revivida por Janet Baker, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson y Jean Rigby entre otras recordadas mezzosopranos, el aporte de Sarah Connolly es sencillamente paradigmático. Además, el DVD sirve como un fascinante souvenir de la cantante hace una década y hoy la máxima exponente británica en su cuerda. Distante, desolada, contenida, vulnerable, la doliente Connolly compone una heroína en la gran tradición clásica, digna hermana de Dido, Safo, Fedra y Cleopatra. Actriz espléndida, vocalmente soberbia, hasta su estampa y porte soberano contribuyen a dejar una impresión inolvidable. Connolly es Lucrecia, no hay mejor halago.”
    Sebastian Spreng, El Nuevo Herald, 16 February 2014

  • 28 Jan 14 Handel Theodora
    Concert Tour with The English Concert/Harry Bicket
    More info  

    “As Irene, mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly gave a lustrous performance, marked by rich chest tones and plainspoken eloquence.”
    Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, 27 January 2014

    “Sarah Connolly an ardently passionate Irene…”
    Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, 29 January 2014

    “As Irene, the spiritual leader of the Christians and Theodora’s confidante, the mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly sang with power and dignity, supported by the fiery, expressive playing of the English Concert.”
    Vivien Schweitzer, New York Times, 03 February 2014

    “Händel composed for Irene one of the greatest concentrations of his art, ‘As with rosy steps the morn.’  In this aria, and, indeed, in every note that she sang, the versatile mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly gave a masterclass in the art of unobtrusively considerate phrasing…the principal pleasure to be had from Ms. Connolly’s singing was in the unmistakable quality of the voice.  ‘Bane of virtue, nurse of passions’ was splendidly sung, the statements of ‘such is, Prosperity, the name’ voiced with beguiling intensity.  The outpouring of expressive tone in ‘As with rosy steps the morn’ was awe-inspiring, the depths of emotion all the more touching for the subtlety and calm reserve of Ms. Connolly’s singing.  ‘Defend her, Heav’n,’ Irene’s prayer for the preservation of Theodora’s maidenhood, seemed even finer in Ms. Connolly’s performance than it appears on the page, and the extended melodies of ‘Lord, to thee, each night and day’ were unfurled with poetic elegance.  Ms. Connolly’s lines in the brief duet with Theodora, ‘Whither, Princess, do you fly,’ trembled with concern for her friend, and she cloaked ‘New scenes of joy come crowding on’ with an unsettling sense of uncertainty and trepidation.  Having Irene sing the final recitative, ‘Ere this, their doom is past and they are gone,’ from the side of the stage heightened the sense of loss, with Irene now distanced from Theodora and Didymus by death.  This, too, Ms. Connolly sang with sorrow made more piercing by the handsomeness of her tone.  In phrasing, in tasteful ornamentation, and in finding in text the impetus for the nuances of her performance, Ms. Connolly confirmed her reputation as one of the most important Händel singers of her generation.”
    Joseph Newsome, Voix des Arts, 31 January 2014

    “Sarah Connolly, warm-toned and nobly understated as Irene.”
    Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 10 February 2014

    “Irene, magnificently played by Sarah Connolly.”
    Ivan Hewett, Telegraph, 09 February 2014

    “No surprise that Sarah Connolly was absolutely wonderful in the role of Irene – but for a reason. Her first aria, and indeed much of her input, was sung so peaceably and serenely.  ‘As with my steps the morn’ grew from pianissimo to piano, and her reprise was more like quadruple and triple piano. The effect was utterly mesmerising. Connolly, uniquely, has the artistry to effect portamento (‘bane of virtue’), a device she never overuses but which brings maximum affect when she does. Every time she sang was a masterclass; ‘Thou art the light, the life, the way’ was quite sensational; her start to Act III is as moving as Britten’s Lucretia.”
    Roderic Dunnett, Seen and Heard, 07 February 2014

    “Sarah Connolly was majestic as ever as Irene, imbuing a very lumpy libretto with pathos and tone spun into endless colours, discovering the most extreme pianissimos for repeats.”
    Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk, 09 February 2014

    “Sarah Connolly, serene as Irene…”
    Barry Millington, The Evening Standard, 10 February 2014

    “Sarah Connolly is fabulous throughout as Theodora’s friend Irene, whose strong faith is made human by her tremulous doubts and vibrant love of life. Amidst a great overall performance, Connolly’s passionate plea ‘Defend her, heav’n’ is supremely well-judged and sung with real emotion.”
    Charlotte Valori, Bachtrack, 10 February 2014

    “Whenever Sarah Connolly stood up as Theodora’s companion Irene, Thomas Morell’s libretto, fusty and clunky, turned into a wonder of eloquence, even when she hit the phrase ‘viewless tents’ in the stunner aria Defend her, Heav’n. Colours, dynamics, emotional shadings: Connolly’s kaleidoscope never ended.”
    Geoff Brown, The Times, 12 February 2014

    “Sarah Connolly deployed a refined artistry…”
    Michael Church, The Independent, 10 February 2014

    “As Irene, Sarah Connolly brought a smooth roundedness to her sound that was then embellished with a range of interesting nuances.”
    Sam Smith, Music OHM, 08 February 2014

  • 17 Dec 13 Offenbach Fantasio
    Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/Sir Mark Elder
    More info  

    “A trouser role, created by the first Carmen, Célestine Galli-Marié, Fantasio was sung here with melancholy zest by mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly.”
    John Allison, The Telegraph, 16 December 2013

    “Sarah Connolly’s understated Fantasio was very much the refined dreamer…”
    Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 16 December 2013

    “…with Mark Elder at the helm of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Opera Rara chorus, and with Sarah Connolly leading a first-rate line-up of soloists, it got a brilliant re-launch. [Connolly’s] nuanced singing was gracefully offset by the tumbling coloratura of Brenda Rae as the princess she had to woo.”
    Michael Church, The Independent, 16 December 2013

    “The travesty title role was created for the future first Carmen, Célestine Galli-Marié, and Sarah Connolly, (awarded two ‘extra’ solos in appendix tracks), is a delight in the part.  Her duets with the titular would-be jester’s princess, Elsbeth, as sung by Brenda Rae, are pure vocal enchantment.”
    Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times, 05 October 2014

  • 28 Nov 13 Mahler Symphony no. 2
    Philharmonia/Benjamin Zander (Linn CD, 2013)
    More info  

    “Salvation is on hand from the ever-meaningful, velvet-toned mezzo soprano Sarah Connolly [and] you couldn’t wish for a more floaty soprano than Miah Persson.”
    David Nice, BBC Music Magazine, December 2013

  • 20 Nov 13 Handel Agrippina
    Gran Teatro del Liceu, Barcelona
    More info  

    “Sarah Connolly ya conocía la producción y maneja su Agrippina desde todas las aristas, con una entrega que es todo un lujo.”
    Pablo Melendez-Haddad, ABC Cataluna, 18 November 2013

    “El tratamiento de los personajes, aunque se enfade McVicar, remite inequívocamente a las arpías protagonistas de culebrones televisivos como Dallas, Dinastia y Falcon Crest. Y la mezzosoprano Sarah Connolly (Agripina) es la Joan Collins de este culebrón con sonido barroco.”
    Javier Perez Senz, El Pais, 18 November 2013

    “Connolly es siempre una excelente cantante y actriz, aunque dejó a la protagonista al nivel de una dominadora e intrigante de Hollywood, más Joan Collins que emperatriz romana (‘Pensieri…’ fue su mejor momento sin duda, pero aquí la botella en mano pesó).”
    Jorge Binaghi, Mundo Clasico, 26 November 2013

    “La mezzo soprano británica Sarah Connolly tuvo una destacada actuación en la parte de Agrippina. La voz es cálida, bien manejada y adecuada  en agilidades.”
    M. Irurzun, Beckmesser, 18 November 2013

  • 01 Oct 13 Mahler Das Lied von der Erde
    London Philharmonic Orchestra/Yannick Nézet-Séguin (LPO Live CD, 2013)
    More info  

    “Vocally, this is far more successful than the LPO’s EMI studio recording under the late, lamented Klaus Tennstedt. Recorded at the Royal Festival Hall in 2011, it finds the tenor Toby Spence in ringing voice for the demanding Drinking Song, which he delivers as effortlessly as the incomparable Fritz Wunderlich. He makes light work of Of Youth, while the forced jollity of The Drunkard in Spring comes across forcefully. The mezzo Sarah Connolly’s timbre is brighter than that of Ferrier, Ludwig or Baker, but she has rarely sung with such limpid beauty. Yannick Nézet-Seguin perfectly captures the yearning for lost youth and resigned acceptance of mortality that pervades Mahler’s masterpiece.”
    Hugh Canning, Sunday Times, 29 September 2013

    “A paragon of stylishness and vocal richness in every piece that she performs, Sarah Connolly has nonetheless never sung better than in this performance of ‘Das Abschied.’  She has so many remarkable forbears in this music: Kerstin Thorborg, Kathleen Ferrier, Lili Chookasian, Christa Ludwig, and Dame Janet Baker are among the finest of them.  Ms. Connolly suffers nothing in comparison with these great ladies: indeed, her singing combines the finest qualities of these musical ancestors, the concentration of Ferrier and Baker allied with the raptly intelligent phrasing of Chookasian and the sheer beauty of Ludwig.  Throughout the range required by the music, Ms. Connolly’s voice is full, perfectly supported by an astonishing breath control, and genuinely lovely.  The suppleness with which she manages the crests of the vocal lines in ‘Das Abschied’ is refreshing.  Supported by Maestro Nézet-Séguin, Ms. Connolly gives as complete a performance of the mezzo-soprano songs as can be heard today—and, for that matter, as has been heard in any day—and a compelling display of the full gamut of her artistry.”
    Joseph Newsome, Voix des Arts, 12 October 2013

    “Desde el inicial Der Einsame im Herbst, Sarah Connolly insinúa una rara afinidad con la obra, creando una expectativa que se confirma totalmente en la inmensa canción final. Esa última media hora no sólo es, sino que se convierte en el núcleo indiscutible de la versión gracias a una Sarah Connolly en literal estado de gracia. Quizás su mejor registro hasta la fecha, la notable mezzo británica exhibe el filo y peso vocal justos, el abandono expresivo y la gama de colores requerida para pintar cada instancia del poema de Mong-Kao-Yen y Wang-Wei. La suya es una contribución soberana, digna heredera de la paradigmática línea de cantantes británicas como Kathleen Ferrier y especialmente, su inmediata antecesora Janet Baker. Hay momentos de sobrecogedora belleza como, por ejemplo, Die Welt schläft ein… invitando al silencio abismal (e inevitable), Der Abschied dar. Er fragte hin wohin er führe, tan estremecedor como Wohin ich gehe, donde su voz pasa imperceptiblemente del caoba al ébano. Y en ese tramado paralelo de música e imágenes, asimismo memorable el solitario aporte de la flauta que evoca a una garza planeando bajo. Sin la más mínima afectación, desde un centro absoluto, ejemplar y equidistante, Connolly es como una antorcha que no se consume, que ilumina, que sin pesimismo trasciende hacia un lugar que sugiere replantearse la habitual visión agorera de la obra. Esta despedida es el canto de una tierra que confiada sonríe al firmamento azul… reverberando en la última palabra Ewig, Ewig… “eternamente, eternamente“…”
    Sebastian Spreng, Miami Clasica, 25 October 2013

    “Sarah Connolly impresses most, precisely characterising every mood with great purity and beauty of tone.  She here confirms her position as one of today’s great Mahlerians – and as such makes this a very special disc indeed.”
    Guy Weatherall, Classical Music (Editor’s Choice), November 2013

    “What can there be left to say about Sarah Connolly, whose performances these days are pretty much beyond praise? Her voice is bigger, more dramatic, more adaptable than Coote’s, not perhaps so personal in timbre yet at once human and majestic. You’d have to go back to Christa Ludwig to find the lines dispatched with such secure technique, or to Dame Janet with Haitink for the ultimate in haunting nostalgia.”
    David Gutman, Gramophone, December 2013

    “Connolly and Spence prove equal to some of the finest exponents on disc in Nezet-Séguin’s youthful account.”
    100 Best Records of the Year, The Sunday Times, 08 December 2013

    “Le monde évolue et les voix d’hier ne sont pas forcément celles qui nous parlent aujourd’hui. La bénédiction de l’enregistrement de Yannick Nézet-Séguin est le choix de Sarah Connolly, immense chanteuse venue de l’univers baroque et incomparable interprète de Haendel. Connolly ne cède en rien — au contraire ! La surprise grandit lorsqu’on examine dans son ensemble l’enregistrement de Nézet-Séguin et sa portée. Non seulement la cuivrée mais humaine Connolly, aussi tragique mais plus souple que d’autres, est probablement la plus grande mezzo du Chant de la terre documentée depuis Brigitte Fassbänder (Giulini, 1984).”
    Le Devoir, December 2013

  • 30 Sep 13 Mahler Symphony no. 2
    Boston Symphony Orchestra/Christoph von Dohnányi
    More info  

    “The simple affirmation of the fourth movement’s alto solo—delivered with gentle dignity and clear, full-bodied tone by mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly.”
    David Wright, Boston Classical Review, 27 September 2013

    “Sarah Connolly sang an exemplary ‘Urlicht’ (Primal Light) registering not just the beauty, but also the deep compassion in this otherworldly music.”
    Jeremy Eichler, Boston Globe, September 2013

  • 01 Jul 13 Rameau Hippolyte et Aricie
    Glyndebourne Festival Opera
    More info  

    “[Sarah Connolly’s] ability to inhabit these complex, tortured women – remember her Medea last year – is famously peerless. And it was no shock that her rendition of ‘Cruelle mère des amours’ was the hypnotic heart of the evening.”
    Igor Toronyi-Lalic, The Arts Desk, 30 June 2013

    “Sarah Connolly’s portrait of Phaedra was compelling, powerful and nuanced. Although clearly a character to be crossed only at one’s peril, she also showed a more human side by eliciting our sympathy for the amorous feelings she cannot help but feel for her stepson but which she cannot reasonably act upon.”
    Curtis Rogers, Classical Source, 01 July 2013

    “Sarah Connolly as Phaedra very nearly steals the show. Appearing in elegant, stylish dresses, she has a commanding presence and was in fine voice. I have never heard her sing so well, particularly when she delivers Phaedra’s confession of guilt.”
    Margarida Mota-Bull, Seen and Heard, 01 July 2013

    “Sarah Connolly plays the stepmother from hell to the manner born.”
    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 30 June 2013

    “Sarah Connolly invests Phaedra with both grandeur and a desperately human vulnerability.”
    Michael Church, The Independent, 01 July 2013

    “Sarah Connolly’s Phaedra added yet another role to the list of mezzo parts which she ‘owns’.”
    Melanie Eskenazi, Music OHM, 29 June 2013

    “Sarah Connolly’s Phaedra leads the field. Following her Medea for English National Opera in February, the mezzo discovers another full-bodied star part to sink her teeth into, seizing and holding the audience’s sympathetic attention throughout Phaedra’s long and painful emotional journey.”
    George Hall, The Stage, 01 July 2013

    “Sarah Connolly is perfectly cast as Phaedra, racked with guilt for her incestuous infatuation with her stepson Hippolytus.”
    Barry Millington, Evening Standard, 04 July 2013

    “Sarah Connolly’s magnificently sung and acted Phaedra.”
    Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times, 07 July 2013

  • 10 Jun 13 Recital at the Aldeburgh Festival with Malcolm Martineau (piano)
    Snape Maltings
    More info  

    “For a completely satisfying song recital programme, though, it
    would be difficult to beat Sarah Connolly’s latest appearance at the Aldeburgh Festival. Devoting the first half to Schumann, she sang a selection from Myrthen, notable for their consoling warmth, before delivering Frauenlieben und –leben with rare introspection. This cycle’s opening song had perfectly judged hesitancy, as if in a waking dream, and Malcolm Martineau supported Connolly with subtle pianistic colours. The mezzo put a smile in her voice for the happy, penultimate number, sung with evenness of tone recalling the great Christa Ludwig. A pair of Britten songs provided the link between the French refinement of Albert Roussel, the English mysticism of Herbert Howells and Ivor Gurney, and sardonic cleverness of Richard Rodney Bennett. Whether evoking the
    soft, sensuous rain in Roussel’s Le jardin mouillée or projecting long, sustained lines to King David, Howells’s miniature masterpiece. Connolly proved a consummate artist.”
    John Allison, The Telegraph

  • 01 May 13 Recital with Malcolm Martineau (piano)
    Wigmore Hall
    More info  

    “It takes a brave singer to present a programme in which not a single song is a popular favourite. But Sarah Connolly is such a revered artist that she can draw a near-capacity audience at Wigmore Hall for an exploration of the byways of the French repertoire. Whether many in the audience would choose to revisit those particular chemins, given the opportunity, is a moot point.  The texts of the opening Roussel group spoke of balmy nights, trembling grass and whispering gardens. There was a hint of sensuality in Nuit d’Automne (so warm was the autumn night that “you could fall asleep naked”) but Roussel’s music is restrained to a fault. In Fauré’s late song cycle Le Jardin Clos (The Walled Garden), passion is also kept well below the surface. The melodic lines and harmonies are as fragile as the imagery (a bird on the sea, a sleeping fairy). The rich, sensuous piano sonorities of Dans la Nymphée (In the Grotto) evoke the presence of a lover but it turns out to be a dream. There are brief flashes of passion but the ardour of the younger Fauré has given way to renunciation. All this makes for something of a challenge for the performer. Connolly knows how to make the most of subtle nuances and half-lights but it was difficult to feel that these songs exploited her full expressive potential. The first half ended with Chausson’s Chanson Perpetuelle, in which the only outburst of passion is generated by the absence of the lover. No wonder those impressionable young Frenchmen such as Chausson and Chabrier fell under the spell of Wagner, sobbing uncontrollably and fainting at performances of Tristan und Isolde. But we heard nothing of them in unbuttoned mode. Instead, after the interval, we had five pithy songs by Honegger, Petit Cours de Morale of 1941. Then came three Lorca settings by Poulenc, dismissed even by the composer as “of little importance”. André Caplet’s La Croix Douloureuse (The Cross of Pain) inhabits a similar world to Debussy’s The Martyrdom of St Sebastian, where mortification and pain are the spurs to passion. Satie’s Three Love Poems to his  own texts are knowing and characteristically dispassionate but even Connolly was hard put to it to stimulate any appreciative response. A final group by Turina, written after his return from Paris to Spain, raised the emotional temperature by a degree or two. Consummate artistry from Connolly, ably accompanied by Malcolm Martineau, and a programme of undeniable rarity value.”
    Barry Millington, Evening Standard, 02 May 2013

  • 16 Feb 13 Charpentier Médée
    English National Opera
    More info  
    “The towering central performance of Sarah Connolly. Singing with coruscating power, acting with white-hot intensity, she makes Medea’s journey from mother to monster, via jealousy and humiliation, nightmarishly plausible.”

    Richard Morrison, The Times, 17 February 2013

    “Connolly, at the peak of her powers, has done nothing finer: she takes us with her every step of the way on a terrifying emotional journey.”

    Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 17 February 2013

    “Sarah Connolly carries all before her in the title-role: here is an artist majestically in her prime, singing with total technical assurance and radiating baneful charisma.”

    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 17 February 2013

    “Sarah Connolly is excellent at stepping up to the extraordinariness of the role: her singing, along with her dramatic presence, is the indispensable factor of the show.”
    Matthew Ingleby, Play to See, 16 February 2013

    “A power-suited Sarah Connolly stands apart. Her Medea chafes against the confines of her role and gender, exploited then discarded at the whim of a libidinous husband. Vocally dwarfing her colleagues, her struggle to repress herself into this world of social hierarchies is mirrored visually and musically. Forging her own path through Charpentier’s fluid tempo-transitions and moods, she never lets her hand slip from the psychological string that guides us through the endless corners and corridors of recit. Her miniature aria of grief once Jason’s abandonment is certain coaxes tears, while her final invocation of the forces of Hell partners that earlier fragility with a reckless blood-lust. We feel for her, even as we know the small, pyjama-clad bodies are coming, and in her final ascent (not descent, interestingly) to darkness she is at once magnificent and horrifying.”
    Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk, 16 February 2013

    “The disintegration from the elegantly coiffed princess of the first act to the dishevelled harpy summoning the powers of hell to avenge her showed the singer at her formidable best. In the big aria “Is this what love is worth?” Connolly vividly evokes a woman losing her grip on all that she values and turning to the path of utter destructive fury.”
    Sebastian Petit, Opera Britannia, 16 February 2013

    “In the title role Sarah Connolly was on fire. Over the course of a gripping staging the formidable mezzo-soprano descended from sophisticated power-dresser to bug-eyed monster, and she did so with utter conviction each step of the way towards her final coup de théâtre. Her singing was not only beautiful it was also alive to every nuance both in the score and in Christopher Cowell’s excellent translation. “Vengeance must learn to wear a mask” declares Medea early on – which is exactly what Connolly did until the moment when, blade in hand, she ripped the mask away and all Hades broke loose.”
    Mark Valencia, Classical Source, 16 February 2013

    “The A-list cast is, as one would hope, A-list magnificent. As Medea, Sarah Connolly is at her vocal and dramatic best, with a powerful and technically superb voice that conveys Medea’s rage and anguish – she stands out even amongst a stellar cast.”
    Julia Savage, Bachtrack.com, 18 February 2013

    “The first thing that must be said of this UK stage premiere is that Connolly’s presence in it is its greatest strength. The word “presence” is overused but in her case the voice and manner exude it. Her commitment to each idea, each word, each musical inflection has been thought and felt through – and when she is not on the stage you feel her in absentia.”
    Edward Seckerson, 16 February 2013

    “In an opera peopled by morally frail, dishonest men, Sarah Connolly portrays Medea as a powerful heroine driven by a combination of fiery anger, eloquent finesse and sharp intelligence. From the opening of Act 1 the profound depths of her character are evident: her passionate love, her jealousy, her pride, her tenderness. It is the powers at her command which set her apart, as is evident in the pulsing accompaniment of her first recitative and the tempestuous cascading string lines which frame it. Her softer side is revealed in Act 2, accompanied by strings and dulcet recorders, preparing us for the pathos of her brutal, inhuman murder of her children in order to inflict pain upon the man who has rejected her. Connolly’s compassion as a mother was evident throughout Act 2, and her powerful soliloquies in Act 3, when she laments Jason’s betrayal and the futility of her love and loyalty, evoked tender empathy in the audience, before her invocation of Satanic darkness injected her thoughtfulness with a terrifying, nihilistic blackness, inspiring both terror and wonder. In her aria-moments Connolly combined warm, shapely lyricism with an elegant declamation of the text, ever alert to Charpentier’s unique arioso which is itself responsive to both word and affekt.”
    Claire Seymour, Opera Today, 17 February 2013

    “[Charpentier’s Medea] provides a gift of a vehicle for one of our great singing actresses, Sarah Connolly. She’s not a woman to be trifled with, and Charpentier charts her spiralling descent from insecure lover to unhinged filicide in music of extraordinary emotional power. Connolly’s assumption of the role is not only characterised by singing of immense beauty but she even manages (with the help of Euripides and Charpentier) to make us sympathise with this wronged woman.”
    Barry Millington, Evening Standard, 18 February 2013

    “Connolly gives a performance which is at once commanding and heart-rending: the long recitative in which she is transformed from a scorned and self-harming wife into an avenging fury has blistering authenticity…her singing – with its very high tessitura – is a delight.
    Michael Church, The Independent, 18 February 2013

    “Sarah Connolly on magnificent form as Medea.”
    William Hartston, The Express, 18 February 2013

    “Sarah Connolly’s business-suited interpretation is still and steely, gradually ratcheting up the tension, as injustice at her husband’s infidelity eats at her soul and unthinkable violence becomes her only resort.”
    Simon Thomas, What’s on Stage, 19 February 2013

    “It was Sarah Connolly who suggested Charpentier to the management, and there is no mezzo-soprano today better equipped to impersonate his monster-mother from Greek mythology. Connolly’s refined timbre and sure musical instincts are the ideal medium for Charpentier’s highly charged but chaste idiom. Thanks to her skill at harmonising the human qualities of the part in the first two acts with its heinous qualities in the last two, Connolly enjoys a deserved triumph.”
    Andrew Clark, Financial Times, 18 February 2013

    “Connolly’s incandescent performance may have been the largest single factor in the production’s success..That act belonged wholesale to Connolly, who in both voice and bearing brought a sense of vulnerable humanity into her imperious performance.”
    Erica Jeal, Opera, April 2013

  • 26 Jan 13 Elgar The Dream of Gerontius
    Royal Festival Hall, London
    More info  

    “As often happens, though, the Angel stole the show. Sarah Connolly sang superbly, at one point investing the word “Alleluia” with such radiant humanity that all trace of religiosity evaporated.”
    Evening Standard, 28 January 2013

    “Sarah Connolly is, as it were, one of The Dream of Gerontius’s archangels. She sang with her characteristic warmth and radiance, giving a gentle momentum to the Angel’s dialogue with Gerontius and, at the end of “Softly and gently”, fading her voice into the choir’s to magical effect. What a consistently wonderful artist she is.”
    Peter Reed, Classical Source, 26 January 2013

    “…the arc of her performance was fully considered and all the more powerful for it. ‘Yes – for one moment thou shalt see thy Lord,’ offered perhaps the most radiant singing of the evening, though I might equally have said that of her final solo, ‘Softly and gently, dearly-ransomed soul’.”
    Seen & Heard, 27 January 2013

    “If there’s a better Angel singing today, I have yet to hear them.
    Church-pure and Wagner-large by turns, Connolly’s “Alleluia” is a prayer
    that would move the sternest God, thrumming as the emotional pulse of
    the performance.”
    Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk, 27 January 2013

    “Sarah Connolly was the Angel, beautifully poised and sung…”
    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 28 January 2013

Repertoire

J.S. BACH
St. Matthew Passion

BEETHOVEN
Missa Solemnis

RICHARD RODNEY BENNETT
The History of the Thé Dansant

BELLINI
I Capuleti e i Montecchi – Roméo

BERG
Lulu – Geschwitz

BERLIOZ
La Damnation de Faust – Marguerite
La Mort de Cléopâtre
L’enfance du Christ
Les nuits d’été
Les Troyens – Didon

BRAHMS
Alto Rhapsody

BRITTEN
A Charm of Lullabies
A Spring Symphony
The Rape of Lucretia – Lucretia
Phaedra

BRUCKNER
Mass in D minor

CHARPENTIER
Medée – Medée

COPLAND
In the Beginning

DONIZETTI
Maria Stuarda – Maria Stuarda

DVORAK
Stabat Mater

ELGAR
The Apostles
Coronation Ode
The Dream of Gerontius
The Kingdom
The Music Makers
Sea Pictures

GLUCK
Orfeo – Orfeo

HANDEL
Agrippina – Agrippina
Alcina – Ruggiero
Ariodante – Ariodante
Belshazzar – Cyrus
Giulio Cesare – Giulio Cesare
Jephtha – Sorge
Judas Maccabeus – Israelitish Man
Semele – Ino / Juno
Theodora – Irene
Serse – Serse
Saul – David
Solomon – Solomon

HARVEY
Songs of Li Po

HAYDN
Arianna a Naxos
Nelson Mass
Scena di Berenice
The Seven Last Words

HOLST
Savitri

HONEGGER
Jeanne d’Arc au Bucher

JANACEK
The Diary of one who Disappeared

LIEBERSON
Neruda Songs

MAHLER
Kindertotenlieder
Des Knaben Wunderhorn
Das Lied von der Erde
Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
Rückertlieder
Symphony no. 2
Symphony no. 3
Symphony no. 8 – Mulier Samaritana

MASSENET
Werther – Charlotte

MENDELSSOHN
Elijah

MONTEVERDI
L’incoronzazione di Poppea – Nerone

MOZART
La clemenza di Tito – Sesto
Mass in C Minor – Soprano 2
Requiem

PERGOLESI
Stabat Mater

POULENC
Dialogues des Carmélites – Mère Marie

PUCCINI
Suor Angelica – Zia Principessa

PURCELL
Dido & Aeneas – Dido

RAMEAU
Hippolyte et Aricie – Phèdre

RAVEL
Shéhérazade

ROSSINI
Petite Messe Solenelle
Stabat Mater

SCHUMANN
Das Paradies und die Peri – Engel
Frauenliebe und -leben
Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart
Liederkreis, Op. 39

R STRAUSS
Ariadne auf Naxos – Komponist
Capriccio – Clairon
Der Rosenkavalier – Octavian

TAVENER
Gnosis
Tribute to Cavafy

TIPPETT
A Child of our Time

TURNAGE
The Silver Tassie – Susie
Twice Through the Heart

VERDI
Requiem

WAGNER
Das Rheingold – Fricka
Tristan und Isolde – Brangäne
Die Walküre – Fricka
Weisendonck Lieder