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 2018-19 season, the artist’s impressive symphonic calendar features Mahler’s Second Symphony with Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the Houston Symphony, his Third Symphony with Donald Runnicles and the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra, Michael Stern and the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra, and with Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Das Lied von der Erde both with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Sought after by many of the most heralded composers of the modern day, Kelley O’Connor gives the world premiere of Joby Talbot’s A Sheen of Dew on Flowers with the Britten Sinfonia at the Victoria & Albert Museum to celebrate the opening of the institution’s new jewellery wing, debuts with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in the title role of John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary under the baton of the composer, presents the west coast premiere of Bryce Dessner’s Voy a Dormir with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra led by Jaime Martín, and brings Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs to life in performances with Stéphane Dénéve and the St. Louis Symphony and with Brett Mitchell and the Colorado Symphony. Bernstein’s Songfest serves the American mezzo-soprano with her Boston Symphony Orchestra debut under the baton of Bramwell Tovey and she is heard in performances of this work with Thomas Dausgaard leading the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Kelley O’Connor returns to the Los Angeles Philharmonic for a Stravinsky Festival singing multiple works there under the direction of Esa-Pekka Salonen and she assays the title role of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia presented by Boston Lyric Opera in a new production by Broadway theater director Sarna Lapine conducted by David Angus.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, Gianandrea Noseda, 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’sWesendonck Lieder with Matthias Pintscher and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with David Robertson and the St. Louis Symphony, and Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich. She has sung Mahler’s Des knaben Wunderhorn with Krzysztof Urbański and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and 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 has been performed 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 Wagner’s Das Rheingold with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Alan Gilbert. Recital appearances include performances in Boston with Thomas Adès in a program of Brahms, Purcell, and Stravinsky, in Chicago offering works of Debussy, Massenet, and Chausson, in Cincinnati with pianist Louis Langrée in programs of Brahms and Ravel, and in Jackson Hole with the music of Brahms and Bernstein in a collaboration with Donald Runnicles
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.
Operatic highlights include Carmen with Los Angeles Opera conducted by James Conlon, 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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