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 2017-18 season, the artist’s impressive symphonic calendar includes performances of Bernstein’s “Jeremiah” Symphony with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic and with Jahja Ling and the San Diego Symphony, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony, Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with Andrés Orozco-Estrada leading the Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich, and Mahler’s Des knaben Wunderhorn with Krzysztof Urbański and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. She returns to the stage of the Kennedy Center for performances of John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary marking her first collaboration with Gianandrea Noseda, and sings Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Jun Märkl on the podium of the Milwaukee Symphony. Kelley O’Connor gives the world premiere of a song cycle by Bryce Dessner at Carnegie Hall with Robert Spano leading the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and, later in the season, she joins Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony for the world premiere of a new work written for her by Michael Kurth. The American mezzo brings Carmen into her repertoire with presentations by Opera Buffs and the Los Angeles Opera under the baton of James Conlon.Read More
John Adams wrote the title role of The Gospel According to the Other Mary for Kelley O’Connor and she has performed the work, both in concert and in the Peter Sellars fully staged production, under the batons of Gustavo Dudamel, Grant Gershon, Sir Simon Rattle, and David Robertson. She has sung the composer’s El Niño with Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic Orchestra and continues to be the eminent living interpreter of Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs having 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, and with David Zinman and the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich among many others.
Recent seasons include performances of Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder with Matthias Pintscher conducting the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with Louis Langrée and the Detroit Symphony and with Donald Runnicles and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, Ravel’s Shéhérazade with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra, Berio’s Folk Songs with Daniel Harding and the London Symphony Orchestra, and the role of Erda in performances of Wagner’s Das Rheingold with the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert. She has appeared in recital in Boston’s Jordan Hall with Thomas Adès in a program of Brahms, Purcell, and Stravinsky, at the Collaborative Arts Institute Chicago offering works of Debussy, Massenet, and Chausson, in Cincinnati with pianist Louis Langrée in art songs of Brahms and Ravel, and in Jackson Hole accompanied by her frequent collaborator, Donald Runnicles in music of Brahms and Bernstein.
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. She 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. 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.
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 Mahler’s Third Symphony with Jaap van Zweden and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Lieberson’s Neruda Songs with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony, 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.
Bill Palant, Étude Arts
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