Soprano

Susan Gritton

© Tim Cantrell

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.

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 and Tatyana Eugene Onegin (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.


Contact



Discography

  • 13 Jul 15 Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin
    Grange Park Opera
    More info  

    Susan Gritton was an elegantly dreamy Tatyana, as believably 16 as any mature singer can make her, and singing with a lovely fluid, focussed tone which contributed immensely to the feeling of youth. This was a Tatyana who withdrew dreamily at the slightest opportunity, but who had immense reserves of power for the long letter scene. Here Susan Gritton was coruscating, without pushing the character into too mature territory, and her body language was as revealing as her singing. In the last act by contrast she was devastatingly poised, yet clearly very torn.
    Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill, 13 July 2015 

    The most consistently strong performance comes from Susan Gritton as Tatyana, whose soprano is sweet and measured, yet always sufficiently strong. One senses that there is a degree of calculation, though hardly choice, to this Tatyana’s infatuation in that she has genuinely weighed up the risk of embarrassment if she sends the letter against the futility of living at all if she does not.
    Sam Smith, MusicOHM, 18 July 2015 

    Susan Gritton has something approaching the ideal vocal presence for Tatyana in this venue: a sympathetic stage persona in all the heroine’s various manifestations, from giddy adolescent to grande dame; a voice that is extremely flexible but can sail over the orchestral forces when needed, and – most importantly – the musical sensibility to negotiate the sudden changes of mood and tone constantly required.
    Roger Parker, Opera, September 2015

  • 21 Aug 14 Britten War Requiem
    CBSO/Nelsons at the BBC Proms
    More info  

    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

  • 25 Nov 13 Holst The Mystic Trumpeter & First Choral Symphony
    BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis (Chandos CD, 2013)
    More info  

    …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

  • 22 Oct 13 Britten War Requiem
    Gabrieli Consort/McCreesh (Winged Lion CD, 2013)
    More info  

    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

  • 28 Jun 13 Britten Peter Grimes
    Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano/Ticciati (Opus Arte DVD, 2013)
    More info  

    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

  • 31 May 13 Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin
    Grange Park Opera
    More info  

    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

  • 14 Jan 13 Britten The Rape of Lucretia
    Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble/Knussen (EMI CD, 2013)
    More info  

    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

  • 19 May 12 Britten Peter Grimes
    Teatro alla Scala, Milan
    More info  

    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

  • 03 Jan 11 Britten & Finzi Les Illuminations & Dies natalis
    BBC Symphony Orchestra/Gardner (Chandos CD, 2010)
    More info  

    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

  • 24 Nov 10 Mozart Die Entführung aus dem Serail
    OAE/Labadie at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
    More info  

    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

  • 07 Oct 10 Mozart Don Giovanni
    Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Ticciati
    More info  

    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

  • 04 May 10 Strauss Capriccio
    Grange Park Opera
    More info  

    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

  • 28 Mar 10 Poulenc Dialogues des Carmélites
    Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich
    More info  

    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

  • 15 Oct 09 Britten Peter Grimes
    Opera Australia, Sydney
    More info  

    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

  • 07 Sep 09 Elgar, Parry, Ireland & Eric Gritton Her Song
    BBC Concert Orchestra/Brabbins (Dutton Epoch CD, 2009)
    More info  

    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

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