Susan Gritton

Introduction

Winner of the 1994 Kathleen Ferrier Award, Susan Gritton is one of the most accomplished lyric sopranos of her generation, acclaimed for her versatility in roles ranging from Handel and Mozart to Britten, Janacek and Strauss.

Highlights in her 2014/15 season include Strauss' Vier Letzte Lieder (Symphony Orchestra of Augusta/Kuwahara), Britten's War Requiem (Orchestra of the Teatro Réal Madrid/Casado) and Beethoven's Symphony no. 9 and Ah! perfido (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra/Matheuz).  She will also return to Grange Park for Tatyana Eugene Onegin and she will sing her first Alice Ford Falstaff (Swedish Radio Orchestra/Harding).

Notable highlights in opera have included Ellen Orford Peter Grimes (La Scala, Opera Australia & Tokyo's New National Theatre); Blanche Dialogues des Carmélites (Bayerische Staatsoper); Countess Madeleine Capriccio (Grange Park); Micaela Carmen and Liu Turandot (Covent Garden); Donna Anna Don Giovanni (Bolshoi & Opera de Montreal); Elettra Idomeneo (Netherlands Opera) and Konstanze Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Deutsche Staatsoper & Bayerische Staatsoper).  Title roles include Theodora (Glyndebourne); Rodelinda (Bayerische Staatsoper); The Bartered Bride (Covent Garden) and The Cunning Little Vixen (ENO).

A prolific concert and recording artist, her work spans many periods and styles and includes Ravel’s Shéhérazade (RLPO/Mackerras); Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem (Berlin Philharmonic/Rattle & Philharmonia/von Dohnànyi); Berg’s Bruchstücke aus Wozzeck (Swedish Radio Orchestra/Harding), Mahler's Symphony no. 2 (Philharmonia/Sir Andrew Davis & BBC Symphony Orchestra/Haitink) and Honegger’s Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher (Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Pappano). Recent highlights include Britten's War Requiem at the BBC Proms (CBSO/Nelsons); Beethoven's Missa Solemnis in Carnegie Hall (Orchestra of St. Luke’s/Norrington); Handel’s Messiah (ROH Orchestra/Pappano); Elgar’s The Kingdom (LSO/Elder); Shostakovich’s Blok Romances (Nash Ensemble); Schumann’s Das Paradies und die Peri (SCO/Norrington & Vienna Philharmonic/Rattle); Tatyana in concert performances of Eugene Onegin (Bamberger Symphoniker/Ticciati); the 'Schlussgesang' from Capriccio (Hamburger Symphoniker/Tate) and Britten’s Les Illuminations – including the world premiere of Britten’s three additional Rimbaud settings (BBCSSO/Brabbins).

A Grammy nominated artist, she has recorded prolifically.  Her recent recording of Britten's Les Illuminations (BBCSO/Gardner) has been widely acclaimed and her recording of his War Requiem (Gabrieli Consort/McCreesh) and of the roles of Female Chorus The Rape of Lucretia (Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble/Knussen) and Ellen Orford Peter Grimes (Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala/Ticciati - DVD) were all released to great critical acclaim in the composer's centenary year.

Please contact Keiron Cooke for a full and up-to-date biography.

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News & Features

Repertoire

OPERA REPERTOIRE

BERG
Wozzeck (Marie)

BERLIOZ
Béatrice et Bénédict  (Héro)

BIZET
Carmen (Micaëla)

BRITTEN
Peter Grimes (Ellen Orford)
The Rape of Lucretia (Female Chorus)
The Turn of the Screw (Governess)

GLUCK
Paride ed Elena (Elena)
Orfeo ed Euridice (Euridice)

HANDEL
Giulio Cesare (Cleopatra)
Rodelinda (title role)
Theodora (title role)
Xerxes (Romilda)

HUMPERDINCK
Hänsel und Gretel (Gretel)

JANACEK
The Cunning Little Vixen (title role)
Jenůfa (title role)
Káťa Kabanová (title role)

LEHAR
The Merry Widow (Hanna Glawari)

MOZART
Così fan tutte (Fiordiligi)
Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Konstanze)
Die Zauberflöte (Pamina)
Don Giovanni (Donna Anna / Donna Elvira)
Idomeneo (Elettra)
La clemenza di Tito (Vitellia)
Le nozze di Figaro (Countess Almaviva)

POULENC
Dialogues des Carmélities (Blanche)

PUCCINI
Turandot (Liù)

SMETANA
The Bartered Bride (Mařenka)

JOHANN STRAUSS
Die Fledermaus (Rosalinde)

RICHARD STRAUSS
Arabella (title role)
Capriccio (Madeleine)
Der Rosenkavalier (Marschallin)

STRAVINSKY
The Rake's Progress (Anne Trulove)

TCHAIKOVSKY
Eugene Onegin (Tatyana)

VERDI
Falstaff (Alice Ford)

WAGNER
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Eva)

CONCERT REPERTOIRE

BERG
Bruchstücke aus Wozzeck

BACH 
St. Matthew Passion
St. John Passion

BARBER
Knoxville

BEETHOVEN
Ah ! perfido
Missa Solemnis
Symphony no. 9

BRAHMS
Ein Deutsches Requiem

BRITTEN
Les Illuminations
Quatre Chansons françaises 
The Poet's Echo
A Spring Symphony
War Requiem

DEBUSSY
Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien

DELIUS
Mass of Life

ELGAR
The Apostles
The Kingdom

FAURE
Requiem

FINZI
Dies natalis

GORECKI
Symphony No. 3

HANDEL
Alexander’s Feast
Belshazzar
Silete venti
Deborah
L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato
Messiah
Samson 
Saul 
Solomon

HAYDN
Nelson Mass
Paukenmsse
Die Schöpfung
Die sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze

HONNEGGER
Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher

HOLST
Choral Symphony
The Mystic Trumpeter

HUMMEL
Alma Virgo

MAHLER
Das Klagende Lied
Symphony No. 2
Symphony No. 4

MENDELSSOHN
Elijah
Paulus

MOZART
Concert Arias
Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots 
Exsultate Jubilate
Mass in C minor
Requiem

ORFF
Carmina Burana

PERGOLESI
Salve Regina
Stabat Mater

POULENC
Gloria

PURCELL
King Arthur
The Fairy Queen

RAVEL
Schéhérazade

SCHUBERT
Mass in A-flat
Mass in E-flat

SCHUMANN
Das Paradies und die Peri (Peri)

SIBELIUS
Lunnotar

STRAUSS
Capriccio (Schlussgesang)
Orchestral Songs
Der Rosenkavalier (Marschallin - concert suite)
Vier Letzte Lieder

TIPPETT
A Child of Our Time

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
A Sea Symphony
Symphony no. 3 (Pastoral)
Symphony no. 7 (Symphonia Antartica)

VERDI
Requiem

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Video


  • BRITTEN: Peter Grimes

Audio

Schedule

Liederhalle, Stuttgart

HANDEL Solomon


Anke Vondung (Solomon)
Lothar Odinius (Zadok/Attendant)
Peter Harvey (Levite)
Susan Gritton (Queen of Sheba/First Harlot)
Johanna Winkel (Pharao's Daughter/Second Harlot)

Freiburger Barockorchester / Hans-Christoph Rademann

Winchester Cathedral, Winchester

VAUGHAM WILLIAMS Fantasia on a theme of Thomas Tallis
BUTTERWORTH Six songs from ‘A Shropshire lad’
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Toward the Unknown Region
BUTTERWORTH Rhapsody
FINZI Songs from 'Let us Garlands Bring'
CECIL COLE Behind the Lines 
ELGAR For the Fallen

Susan Gritton (soprano)
Duncan Rock (baritone)

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / David Hill

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Press

Britten

War Requiem

CBSO/Nelsons at the BBC Proms

Lending a sharp emotional edge to the solemnity were the three soloists, who were ideally matched. Susan Gritton was delicately tender in the Lacrimosa. Tenor Toby Spence and bass Hanno Müller-Brachmann were unaffectedly hearty during the poem about sharing a meal with Death, and in the final dialogue of the two dead soldiers they held us spellbound. The silence after the final chord felt as if it would never end. Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, 22 August 2014
Susan Gritton soared lyrically above the excellent, Simon Halsey-trained BBC Proms Youth Choir, with the CBSO Children’s Chorus piping down from the stratosphere. Barry Millington, The Evening Standard, 22 August 2014
Floating over everything was the glorious soprano of Susan Gritton. Placing her in the middle of the chorus, rather than at the front of the stage, made perfect sense. She became their guardian, their ministering angel, commenting, through the Latin of the requiem mass, on the unfolding tragedy being played out in Owen's poetry. Stephen Pritchard, The Observer, 24 August 2014
The asynchronies of the choral murmuring were made still more spine-tingling by their timbral contrast with soprano Susan Gritton’s resonant opening declaration, ‘Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth’. Claire Seymour, Opera Today, 22 August 2014
Soprano Susan Gritton sang through her awkward leaps with ease. Her voice soared wonderfully above the chorus. On high notes, she was glorious but careful not to over-indulge. Hazel Rowland, Bachtrack, 22 August 2014
Soprano Susan Gritton was full of imploring emotion in the Lacrimosa, her voice embodying the beautiful tears of which she sang. Rebecca Franks, Classical-music.com, 22 August 2014

Holst

The Mystic Trumpeter & First Choral Symphony

BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis (Chandos CD, 2013)

...the chief asset of [this recording of The Mystic Trumpeter] is Susan Gritton's unaffected engagement with Holt's bright-eyed and full-hearted response to Whitman. Daniel Jaffe, BBC Music Magazine, December 2013
Gritton sings it [The Mystic Trumpeter] ravishingly... Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 17 October 2013

Britten

War Requiem

Gabrieli Consort/McCreesh (Winged Lion CD, 2013)

With Susan Gritton proving a clever choice for the soprano soloist, not imperious like Vishnevskaya but pitching the intervals of the 'Lacrimosa' to perfection, there are no weak links. Richard Fairman, Gramophone, October 2013
The graceful phrasing of Susan Gritton in the Sanctus is just one example of her sophisticated artistry. Helen Wallace, BBC Music Magazine, December 2013
Soprano Susan Gritton, in music written for Galina Vishnevskaya but first performed by Heather Harper, aptly mixes British starch (in the best sense) with a touch of Slavic steel. Patrick Dillon, Opera News, February 2014

Britten

Peter Grimes

Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano/Ticciati (Opus Arte DVD, 2013)

Susan Gritton's Ellen is remarkable...she offers consistently warm lyric soprano tone at every dynamic level.  This is an unexpectedly youthful Ellen, capable even of occasional touches of playfulness.  Her emotions in the later scenes are vivid and painful to watch. Roger Pines, International Record Review, June 2013
Susan Gritton won fame in Handel and Mozart [here] she elicits sympathy as Ellen Orford, singing with clean line and lovely tonal purity.... David Shengold, Opera News, October 2013

Tchaikovsky

Eugene Onegin

Grange Park Opera

At her best, Gritton has a limpid quality not unlike Kiri te Kanawa on her recorded effort and her Letter Scene had great emotional truth.  Mark Pullinger, Opera Britannia, 31 May 2013
Susan Gritton harnessed her glowing soprano to haunting effect as Tatyana.  John Allison, The Telegraph, 07 June 2013
Gritton was an intensely dignified and self-contained Tatyana. In the first two acts she was convincingly girlish, bringing out Tatyana's dreamy side with a tendency to drift away both physically and mentally. And having an experience singer helps in the letter scene, Gritton's performance was a marvel of balance, poise and intensity. Finely paced, she conveyed the young girl's confusion at this overwhelming passion, bringing out the sheer beauty and vividness of Tchaikovsky's music. Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill, 11 June 2013
[Gritton] makes an appealing vocal job of Tchaikovsky’s heroine.  Alexandra Coghlan, New Statesman, 26 June 2013

Britten

The Rape of Lucretia

Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble/Knussen (EMI CD, 2013)

The Male and Female Chorus, Ian Bostridge and Susan Gritton, set the standard in their introduction, each word ringingly clear, every shade of meaning registered. Their commentary is wonderfully objective and humane.
Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 16 January 2013

The cast, including Susan Gritton's Female Chorus, has no weak link.

Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times, 03 March 2013
For narrative clarity and detail Susan Gritton (Female Chorus) is Bostridge's equal, and her fuller tones emerge in striking relief against the female trio of Act I scene 2. Alexandra Coghlan, Opera, May 2013
Ian Bostridge and Susan Gritton as Male and Female Chorus project their rhetorical commentaries with exemplary diction. Bayan Northcott, BBC Music Magazine, April 2013

Britten

Peter Grimes

Teatro alla Scala, Milan

A radiant Ellen Orford Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times, 28 May 2012
Ovazioni hanno accolto l'Ellen di Susan Gritton, luminosa e ricca di pathos. Giancarlo Arnaboldi, La Provincia, 24 May 2012
Ottima anche la Ellen de soprano Susan Gritton. Elsa Airoldi, Corriere del Ticino, 25 May 2012
Tra gli altri ricordiamo Susan Gritton che traduce con intenso lirismo le appassionate apostrofi di Ellen, che dovrebb'essere la forza redentrice. Paolo Isotta, Corriere della Sera, 21 May 2012
Bravissima anche Susan Gritton nei panni di una Ellen Orford protettiva con Peter ed estremamente materna nei confronti del ragazzo, che supera benissino la prova di una partitura estremamente articolata, brillando der dolcezza nelle mezzevoci e per solidita in acuto. Simone Manfredini, Teatro, 30 May 2012
Il personaggio di Ellen, dolcissima figura che cerca di aiutare Peter, era cantato da Susan Gritton. Questa cantante specialista nel repertorio britteniano è da considerarsi ottima. La sua aria “The Embroidery” di una dolcezza struggente mi ha toccato profondamente fino alle lacrime. Per non parlare del concertato delle quattro voci femminili -che ci riportava alla memoria lo struggente finale del Der Rosenkavalier- dove l’umanità di Ellen passa anche alle altre tre bizzarre figure, la 'zietta' e le due frivole 'nipoti'. Federico Vazzola, GB Opera, 26 May 2012
Susan Gritton è un soprano drammatico di qualità. Il Velino, 24 May 2012
Bravissima anche Susan Gritton nei panni di una Ellen Orford protettiva con Peter ed estremamente materna nei confronti del ragazzo, che supera benissimo la prova di una partitura estremamente articolata, brillando per dolcezza nelle mezzevoci e per solidità in acuto. Francesco Rapaccioni, Teatro, 31 May 2012

Britten & Finzi

Les Illuminations & Dies natalis

BBC Symphony Orchestra/Gardner (Chandos CD, 2010)

The pleasures here are many. ‘Dies natalis’ opens the programme and Susan Gritton sings with heartfelt empathy, radiance and intelligence, and her alliance with Gardner certainly distils the necessary tingle-factor (unforgettably so in the second movement at the words ‘The corn was orient and immortal wheat, which never should be reap’d nor was ever sown’). Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone, July 2010
…there is much to admire in her delicate, considered vocalism, as well as her refined musicianship.  Her presentation of Finzi’s exquisite masterpiece ['Dies natalis'] is closer to an intimate revelation than to the clear-eyed evangelism of Philip Langridge, or the well articulated mystery presented by Wilfred Brown.  Gritton finds plenty of character in Britten’s ‘Les Illuminations’ too.  Her line in ‘Being Beauteous’ is lovingly shaped.
George Hall, BBC Music Magazine, June 2010
'Dies natalis’ is Finzi’s masterpiece [and] Susan Gritton acquits herself well, with scrupulous conducting from Gardner. ‘Les Illuminations’ is equally idiomatic.  The Delius makes a moving ending.
Classic FM Magazine, June 2010

Mozart

Die Entführung aus dem Serail

OAE/Labadie at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

Susan Gritton as Konstanze demonstrates a sweet and effortless head voice. The tenderness she shows in ‘Ach ich liebte’, as she recalls her love for Belmonte, also feels entirely in tune with the strength of character she demonstrates in ‘Martern aller Arten’ as she reveals total understanding of the tortures that lie ahead for refusing the Pasha’s love. Sam Smith, Music OMH, 27 November 2010
As Konstanze, Susan Gritton brought passion and intelligence to bear. Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 26 November 2010
Gritton gave looser rein to her voice for 'Martern aller Artern' where it was allowed to swell to full force...the beauty was in the passages of sustained lyricism and in the ensembles where she rang out cleanly and with presence. Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk, 25 November 2010

Mozart

Don Giovanni

Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Ticciati

Sizzling performances from the strong cast, notably....the three women, Elvira, played by Kate Royal, Susan Gritton’s Anna, and Malin Christensson’s Zerlina, fabulous voices, each extraordinarily focused. Michael Tumelty, Glasgow Herald, 11 October 2010
The two donne were individually outstanding. Susan Gritton’s Anna was a massive voice to make the rafters ring, but she controlled it superbly and her two big arias were stunning, pulling off the extraordinary feat of making Mozart’s avenging angel utterly believable and even somewhat sympathetic. Simon Thompson, Scene and Heard, 18 October 2010
With Mozart singers of the quality of Susan Gritton (Anna) leading the cast, this was a night of rare vocal glamour for opera audiences in Scotland. Hugh Canning, The Times, 20 October 2010
Susan Gritton's wordly Anna gave lustre to Mozart's kaleidoscopic masterpiece. Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman, 10 October 2010
Susan Gritton’s theatrically intense Donna Anna. Lynne Walker, The Independent, 13 October 2010
...her powerful voice soared at times to the rafters. Barbara Bryan, Edinburgh Guide, 08 October 2010

Strauss

Capriccio

Grange Park Opera

Susan Gritton's magnificent Madeleine sang with a warmth and lightness that could easily burst into spine-tingling opulence of tone.  She had the sort of sympathetic, aristocratic, wry wisdom that so distinguished Elisabeth Söderström in this role. Peter Reed, Opera, August 2010
As the Countess Madeleine Susan Gritton is magnificent, sustaining Strauss’s legato lines with a silvery but never glacial beauty, fresh and vivacious, amusement flickering in her eyes, the aristocrat at perfect ease. Geoff Brown, The Times, 08 June 2010
Susan Gritton sings [the final scene] gloriously, but then her whole portrayal of the Countess is fresh and never remotely grand. Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 07 June 2010
An engaging Susan Gritton as the Countess, a soprano who gave such a towering performance that one can readily speak her name alongside any of the pre-eminent Straussian sopranos of today. Antony Lias, Opera Britannia, 10 June 2010
An outstanding, largely British cast, led by Susan Gritton as the wistful, golden-toned Countess. Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, 13 June 2010
The performance quite rightly belonged to Susan Gritton.  Although a distinguished Mozartian, one did not suspect she would be quite such a successful Straussian...by the end it was utterly thrilling, riding easily over Strauss’ climaxes with incredible bloom and beauty.  Listening to a recording of the veteran Straussian soprano Lisa della Casa singing the final scene from Capriccio, one was instantly reminded of a similarity in the timbre of their voices.  Alongside Fleming I would say Gritton sings the Countess pretty much better than anyone today.  With some luck, perhaps we will soon hear her Marschallin and Arabella ?
Antony Lias, Opera Britannia, 10 June 2010
Gritton’s Countess sings an immaculately beautiful final scene. George Hall, The Stage, 07 June 2010
Susan Gritton struck me as being ideal for the part in this size of house. Her soprano is clear, warm and radiant and, like Kennedy, she seemed to cope effortlessly with the long cadential phrases that litter the part. Singing without strain, and mostly well within herself, Gritton proved to have that invaluable extra gear as the orchestral textures thickened: she soared, and our senses quickened. Gritton also has an attractively mobile face, reacting to characters and situations onstage with great flexibility, always putting light and shade into the role. This was a polished and assured central performance. Mark Reynolds, Musical Criticism, 16 July 2013

Poulenc

Dialogues des Carmélites

Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich

Susan Gritton is a bright-shining Blanche…the other characters are mirrored in the sad, observant eyes of Gritton’s hypersensitive Blanche. Beate Kayser, Merkur, 29 March 2010
This is a feast of great voices…with terrific singing from Susan Gritton. Hannes S. Macher, Passauer Neue Presse, 30 March 2010
Vocally, the performance was all one could wish for. Susan Gritton and the rest of the cast were quite rightly, and deservedly, rewarded with enthusiastic applause. Everyone displayed vocal strength, subtle emotions and delivered strong performances. Laszlo Molnar, KlassikInfo, 29 March 2010
… a stunning portrayal of trauma and lost despair… Robert Thickness, Opera Now, July/August 2010

Britten

Peter Grimes

Opera Australia, Sydney

Susan Gritton was a deeply touching Ellen Orford; goodness, honesty and simplicity were heard in every phrase, the fineness and beauty of her character exactly expressed. Deborah Jones, Opera, February 2010
English soprano Susan Gritton is radiant as Ellen Orford, her lustrous soprano rises gorgeously through the opera's ensembles while retaining an earthy quality which adds real power to its lyricism. Her Embroidery aria is especially moving, marrying grief to gorgeous tone with shattering results. Sarah Noble, The Opera Critic, 18 October 2009
Gritton as Ellen Orford sings with rich yet deeply human power that achieves transfixing strength while never losing its warmth. Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 October 2009
Pure-toned and agile across her tessitura, soprano Susan Gritton is an appealingly warm-hearted Ellen Orford. Murray Black, The Australian, 20 October 2009

Elgar, Parry, Ireland & Eric Gritton

Her Song

BBC Concert Orchestra/Brabbins (Dutton Epoch CD, 2009)

Notable is the extract from The Kingdom, which builds exultantly from a quiet beginning, to which Gritton responds with full, gleaming tone… John T. Hughes, International Record Review, October 2009
Susan Gritton lends raptly dedicated advocacy to the 1910 song “O stay, Madonna” by her grandfather Eric Gritton… [she] brings resplendent tone and intelligent observation to the task in hand. Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone, January 2010

Recordings

BRITTEN: Peter Grimes

John Graham-Hall - Peter Grimes 
Susan Gritton - Ellen Orford
Christopher Purves - Captain Balstrode
Felicity Palmer - Auntie
Ida Falk Winland - First Niece
Simona Mihai - Second Niece 
Peter Hoare - Bob Boles 
Daniel Okulitch - Swallow 
Catherine Wyn-Rogers - Mrs. Sedley 
Christopher Gillett - Rev. Horace Adams
George Von Bergen - Ned Keene

Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro alla Scala, Milan
Robin Ticciati
Richard Jones' production from Teatro alla Scala, Milan
Opus Arte (DVD)