Possessing a voice of uncommon allure, musical sophistication far beyond her years, and intuitive and innate dramatic artistry, the Grammy® Award-winning mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor has emerged as one of the most compelling performers of her generation. During the 2012-13 season, the California native’s impressive calendar includes John Adams’s The Gospel According to the Other Mary in a world premiere staging by Peter Sellars performed in America and Europe with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel’s baton, and a role debut as Suzuki in Madama Butterfly in a new production by Lillian Groag at Boston Lyric Opera.
Concert appearances of the season include Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs both with Christoph Eschenbach and the National Symphony Orchestra and with Robert Spano and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Debussy’s La Damoiselle élue and the Duruflé Requiem with Donald Runnicles and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with David Robertson and the Saint Louis Symphony, Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony, Louis Langrée and the Cincinnati Symphony, and with Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony, as well as Lieberson’s The World in Flower with Grant Gershon and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. The artist is pleased both to return to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with Edward Gardner conducting a program of Elgar’s Sea Pictures and Britten’s Spring Symphony and to debut with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra with Adams’s The Gospel According to the Other Mary led by Markus Stenz.
Last season, Miss O’Connor brought “her smoky sound and riveting stage presence” (The New York Times) to performances as Ursule in Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict with Opera Boston, and to her signature role as Federico García Lorca in a Peter Sellars staging of Golijov’s Ainadamar at Teatro Real in Madrid. She gave her first performances of Ravel’s Shéhérazade with Michael Christie at the Colorado Music Festival and with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Edinburgh Festival and performed Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony as well as with Roberto Minczuk and the Calgary Philharmonic. Other highlights included Stravinsky’s Les Noces with David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony, Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony with Donald Runnicles and the Atlanta Symphony, and Mozart’s Requiem both with Louis Langrée and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and with Iván Fischer leading the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall.
Internationally in recent seasons Ms. O’Connor made her Proms Festival debut with Jirí Belohlávek and the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, and an Edinburgh International Festival debut with James Conlon and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in John Adams’ El Niño. She has sung Neruda Songs with David Zinman and the Berliner Philharmoniker as well as with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Berio’s Folk Songs with Daniel Harding and the London Symphony Orchestra at the Berlin Festival, and Mahler’s Third Symphony with Edo de Waart and the Hong Kong Philharmonic. The artist also has toured with Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and performed Mendelssohn’s Elias with Andrew Manze and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin.
Highlights of the past include staged performances of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic, a Lyric Opera of Chicago debut as Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the company’s new production by Neil Armfield, conducted by Rory Macdonald, numerous performances with Gustavo Dudamel including Bernstein’s “Jeremiah” Symphony on an international tour with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony with the Simón Bolívar Orchestra, excerpts from Roussel’s Padmâvatî and the world premiere of a vocal work written for Miss O’Connor by the legendary Indian musician, Zakir Hussain, in performance with Christoph Eschenbach and the National Symphony Orchestra, Adams’ El Niño with David Robertson and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges with Lorin Maazel and the New York Philharmonic, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Bernard Haitink and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Weill’s Die sieben Todsünden with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Stravinsky’s Les Noces with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The artist enjoys a particularly warm musical collaboration with Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra with whom she has sung Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Bernstein’s “Jeremiah” Symphony, staged performances of Falstaff (in Cleveland and at the Lucerne Festival), and Stravinsky’s Requiem Canticles. Operatic engagements have included her Canadian Opera Company debut in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Falstaff at the Santa Fe Opera.
Kelley O’Connor has received unanimous international critical acclaim for her numerous performances as Federico García Lorca in Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar. Ms. O’Connor created the role for the world premiere at Tanglewood under the baton of Robert Spano and subsequently joined Miguel Harth-Bedoya for performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Hall. She reprised her “musically seductive, palpably charismatic” portrayal of Lorca (Washington Post) in the world premiere of the revised edition of Ainadamar at the Santa Fe Opera in a new staging by Peter Sellars during the 2005 season, which also was presented at Lincoln Center. For her debut with the Atlanta Symphony, in Ainadamar, she joined Robert Spano for performances and a Grammy® Award-winning Deutsche Grammophon recording. Her discography also includes Lieberson’s Neruda Songs with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra for Deutsche Grammophon.