Kelley O’Connor’s brief appearance as Erda was something of a miracle. A natural stage presence, she walked on stage and all eyes were on her as she warned Wotan of the ring’s danger. O’Connor’s instrument is immense and imposing and she sang with a dark tone. O’Connor lengthened the line holding each note and emphasizing the text. It almost felt like there was no need to read the subtitles because her timbre expressed the foreboding destruction.
Operawire, Francisco Salazar
The matched set of concluding movements was inaugurated by a breathtakingly fine account of “Urlicht” by mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor, singing with ravishingly velvet vocal tone and an astonishing ability to sustain the song’s long, ardent phrases. Not since the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson’s recorded performance with the orchestra in 2002 has this music been rendered with such physical presence or shimmery grace.
San Francisco Chronicle, Joshua Kosman
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 2016-17 season, the artist’s impressive symphonic calendar includes a Boston Symphony Orchestra debut in a program of Brahms, Purcell, and Stravinsky in collaboration with Thomas Adès, Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder with Matthias Pintscher conducting the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker as well as with David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony both at Powell Symphony Hall in St. Louis and at Carnegie Hall, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, and Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with Louis Langrée and the Detroit Symphony and with Donald Runnicles and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. In performances with Jaap van Zweden and the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Miss O’Connor sings Mahler’s Third Symphony and she assays the role of Erda in concert performances of Wagner’s Das Rheingold with the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert conducting. Also, in the present season, the California native brings her artistry to the recital stage in three distinguished settings: Kelley O’Connor returns to Collaborative Arts Institute Chicago for programs spotlighting the songs of Debussy, Massenet, Chausson, and Canteloube; she joins pianist Louis Langrée for recital programs in Cincinnati featuring songs of Brahms and Ravel; and she is accompanied by her frequent collaborator, Donald Runnicles, at the Grand Teton Music Festival in a program of Brahms and Bernstein.Read More
Recent seasons include performances of John Adams’ El Niño under the baton of Vladimir Jurowski with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Ravel’s Shéhérazade with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Edinburgh Festival, Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with Jirí Belohlávek and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Berio’s Folk Songs with Daniel Harding and the London Symphony Orchestra, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony, Stravinsky’s Les Noces with David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony, and Elgar’s Sea Pictures and Britten’s Spring Symphony with Edward Gardner and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
John Adams wrote the title role of The Gospel According to the Other Mary for Kelley O’Connor and she has performed the work, internationally, both in concert and in the Peter Sellars production, under the batons of Gustavo Dudamel and Grant Gershon. She continues to be the eminent living interpreter of Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs and has given this moving set of songs with Christoph Eschenbach and the National Symphony Orchestra, with Bernard Haitink and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with Robert Spano and the Minnesota Orchestra, as well as with David Zinman and the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich among many others.
Miss O’Connor has appeared numerous times with Gustavo Dudamel, including in performances of Bernstein’s “Jeremiah” Symphony on an international tour with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and of Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony with the Simón Bolívar Orchestra. With Christoph Eschenbach and the National Symphony Orchestra, she has sung excerpts from Roussel’s Padmâvatî and given the world premiere of a vocal work written for Miss O’Connor by the legendary Indian musician, Zakir Hussain.
The artist enjoys a rich musical collaboration with Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra with whom she has sung Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Mass in C, Bernstein’s “Jeremiah” Symphony, staged performances of Falstaff both in Cleveland and at the Lucerne Festival, and Stravinsky’s Requiem Canticles.
Operatic highlights include Donizetti’s Anna Bolena at the Lyric Opera of Chicago conducted by Patrick Summers and directed by Kevin Newbury, Madama Butterfly in a new production by Lillian Groag at the Boston Lyric Opera and at the Cincinnati Opera under the baton of Ramón Tebar, Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict at Opera Boston, Falstaff with the Santa Fe Opera, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Canadian Opera Company.
Kelley O’Connor has received unanimous international, critical acclaim for her numerous performances as Federico García Lorca in Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar. Miss 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 of Golijov’s piece with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. She reprised her “musically seductive, palpably charismatic” (Washington Post) portrayal of Lorca 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 was also presented at New York City’s Lincoln Center and Madrid’s Teatro Real. 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 as well as Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra for Deutsche Grammophon.
Bill Palant, Étude Arts
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