Mezzo-Soprano & Contralto
Adriana Bignagni Lesca
Born in Libreville, Gabon, Adriana Bignagni Lesca studied at the Conservatoire de Bordeaux with Maryse Castets. Previous opera highlights include Brambilla in Offenbach’s La Périchole with Les Musiciens du Louvre and Marc Minkowski at Salzburg Easter Festival and on tour to Montpellier, Bordeaux, Grenoble, and Versailles; Fatouma in Marouf, Savetier du Caire by Henri Rabaud at the Opéra National de Bordeaux and the Opéra-Comique de Paris; Rossweisse Die Walküre in Bordeaux. This season Adriana will return to the Opéra National de Bordeaux as Mistress Quickly in Laurent Pelly’s production of Verdi’s Fastaff; other highlights include Mozart’s Mitridate, Re di Ponto on a concert tour of Europe with Les Musiciens du Louvre and Marc Minkowski.
Future seasons will see a series of exciting debuts at Staatsoper Berlin and the Opéra National de Paris.
Dame Sarah Connolly
Sarah Connolly was made a DBE in the 2017 Birthday Honours, having previously been awarded a CBE in the 2010 New Year Honours. In 2020 she was made an Honorary Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society in recognition of her outstanding services to music.
She has sung at the Aldeburgh, Edinburgh, Lucerne, Salzburg and Tanglewood festivals and the BBC Proms where, in 2009, she was a soloist at the Last Night. Opera engagements have taken her around the world from the Metropolitan Opera to the Royal Opera House, the Paris Opera, La Scala Milan, the Munich State Opera and the Bayreuth, Glyndebourne and Aix-en-Provence festivals.
Recent highlights include Fricka in The Ring Cycle at both the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the Teatro Real in Madrid and recitals for the Schubertíada a Vilabertran, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid and for the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.
Recent performances on the concert platform have included Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin/Jurowski & London Philharmonic Orchestra/Jurowski), his Symphony No. 8 (Wiener Symphoniker/Jordan), Des Knaben Wunderhorn (Orchestre national de Paris/Saraste) and Tippet’s A Child of our Time (Orchestre de Paris/Adès). In the 2018/19 season, Sarah curated a residency at Wigmore Hall.
Praised for her “dulcet-toned mezzo-soprano” by the Wall Street Journal, Kayleigh is currently an ensemble member of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago.
She made her Lyric Opera debut as Second Cretan Woman Idomeneo in 2018, shortly followed by Dorothée in Laurent Pelly’s critically acclaimed Cendrillon under Sir Andrew Davis that same year. Still to come this season she sings Kate Pinkerton Madama Butterfly. Notable cover roles in Chicago include Le Prince Charmant Cendrillon, Rosina The Barber of Seville, Laura Luisa Miller and Donna Elvira Don Giovanni conducted by James Gaffigan.
A passionate song interpreter, she was named one of Caramoor’s 2018 Schwab Vocal Rising Stars, and was also part of the inaugural season of Renée Fleming’s SongStudio at Carnegie Hall. She has given recitals produced by the Cincinnati Song Initiative, and this season performs a solo recital at Carnegie Hall and the Chicago Cultural Center.
Future plans include her Glyndebourne Festival debut covering Ruggiero Alcina, Annio La Clemenza di Tito for Opéra de Rouen also touring to Paris, and a return to the Lyric Opera as a guest artist.
Michelle DeYoung is one of the world’s most exciting mezzo-sopranos.
Her prolific concert engagements include the New York Philharmonic and London Symphony orchestras under Sir Colin Davis (with whom she recorded Didon in Les Troyens to great critical acclaim), the San Francisco Symphony under Tilson Thomas, the Boston Symphony under Ozawa, the Chicago Symphony and Philharmonia under Boulez, the Cleveland Orchestra under Slatkin, the Royal Concertgebouw under Chailly, the Berlin Staatskappelle under Barenboim and Boulez, the Israel Philharmonic under Maazel and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Gardner. She has given recitals in New York, San Francisco, Lisbon, Paris, London’s Wigmore Hall and the Edinburgh Festival.
Her operatic engagements have included Jocasta with von Dohnanyi in Paris; Fricka for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden under Haitink; Fricka, Brangäne, Venus and Shaman in Tan Dun’s The First Emperor at the Metropolitan Opera under Levine; Brangäne in Chicago under Sir Andrew Davis and at the Deutsche Staatsoper in Berlin and La Scala, Milan under Barenboim and Kundry in Bayreuth under Boulez and Berlin under Barenboim.
Celebrated Russian mezzo-soprano Larissa Diadkova is a principal artist of the Mariinsky Theatre and is a favourite singer of Valery Gergiev. In addition to the Russian repertoire she’s so associated with, Ms Diadkova also concentrates on the works of Bach, Händel, Mahler, Verdi and Wagner.
Her international career has taken her to the leading opera houses around the world and has sung leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera, Salzburg Festival, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Teatro alla Scala Milan and Lyric Opera of Chicago. She has also appeared in many of the world’s prestigious concert halls, including the Royal Albert Hall, the Barbican and Wigmore Hall in London, the Konzerthaus and Musikverein in Vienna, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and Avery Fisher Hall in New York. As well as Maestro Gergiev, conductors with whom she has collaborated include Claudio Abbado, James Levine, Antonio Pappano, Sir Charles Mackerras and Semyon Bychkov. Ms Diadkova records for BMG/RCA, Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Phillips and EMI Classics.
Kansas-born Joyce DiDonato entrances audiences and critics across the globe in operas ranging from Mozart and Handel to Rossini, Donizetti, Berlioz and Heggie. Winner of the 2018 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera, she is a multi-Grammy Award winner and a fierce advocate for the arts.
Joyce’s 19/20 season sees her staged debut as Agrippina in a new production at the Royal Opera House, returns to the Metropolitan Opera as Agrippina and Charlotte Werther, and performances as Semiramide at the Liceu Barcelona. She is Carnegie Hall’s 19/20 Perspectives Artist with appearances including the Chicago Symphony Orchesrta under Muti, with Nézet-Séguin in recital performing Schubert’s Winterreise, a Joyce & Friends chamber music concert joined by the Brentano Quartet, a baroque inspired programme My Favourite Things with Il Pomo d’Oro, as well as live-streamed masterclasses. Also with Il Pomo d’Oro, the season holds the final tour of her album In War & Peace to South America culminating in Washington DC, as well as a European and US tour of My Favourite Things. Other highlights include a tour with the Orchestre Métropolitain under Nézet-Séguin; touring her latest album release Songplay in Europe and recorded concerts of Berlioz Roméo & Juliette with John Nelson and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg.
Elīna Garanča was born into a musical family in Riga, Latvia. She studied at the Latvian Academy of Music with her mother. She won the Mirjam Helin Singing Competition in 1999 and was a finalist in the 2001 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.
Ms Garanča is an exclusive recording artist with Deutsche Grammophon. She has won four ECHO Klassik awards: ‘Singer of the Year’ in 2007, ‘Vocalist of the Year’ in 2010 and ‘Solo Recording of the Year’ for both her Romantique recording (2012) and Meditation (2015).
Her most recent album Sol y Vida was released in May 2019 and has been unanimously praised by the critics. Gramphone said: “Garanča’s selection of flamboyant Mediterranean and Latin American songs is a predictably good fit for her ripe and beguiling timbre.”
Among other roles, she is particularly famed for her portrayal as Bizet’s Carmen which she has sung at both the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and Metropolitan Opera to critical acclaim; the NY Times named her “the finest Carmen in 25 years…”.
Ms Garanča appears regularly at the Vienna Staatsoper, Metropolitan Opera, ROH Covent Garden, Salzburg Festival, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Bayerisches Staatsoper Munich and Deutsche Oper Berlin and continues to perform in various concerts, festivals and recitals all over the world.
American mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey is quickly making a name for herself at home in the US and abroad.
Highlights of recent seasons include her role and house debuts as Rosina Il Barbiere di Siviglia at Den Norske Opera and as Siébel Faust at the Grand Théâtre de Genèvthe, the title role in Handel’s Agrippina at The Juilliard School, and Varvara in Stephen Wadsworth’s production of Káťa Kabanová.
In the 2019/20 season, Samantha joins the ensemble of the Bayerische Staatsoper Munich where her numerous roles include Hänsel Hänsel und Gretel, Mercédès Carmen and Dorabella Così fan tutte. She will make her Dallas Opera debut as Zweite Dame Die Zauberflöte and return to the Metropolitan Opera for Madrigal Singer Manon Lescaut. In recital, Samantha will appear at the Alice Tully Hall Lincoln Center and at both Rockport and Aspen Festivals.