Jennifer Johnston

“Jennifer Johnston has one of the most generous and beautiful voices in the business” (Prospect Magazine)

© Gerard Collett


Jennifer Johnston is a former BBC New Generation Artist, and a graduate of Cambridge University and the Royal College of Music. She is particularly associated with the Bayerische Staatsoper and its distinguished musical director Kirill Petrenko, where her roles have included Second Norn, Roßweise, Floßhilde, Hedwige and La Ciesca. She has appeared in opera at the Teatro alla Scala (Mrs Grose/The Turn of the Screw, Gaia/CO2), Salzburg Festival (Carmi/La Betulia Liberata, Lady de Hautdesert/Gawain, Leda/Die Liebe Der Danae) and Festival d’Aix-en-Provence (Dido/Dido and Aeneas), amongst others.

A prolific concert performer, she has performed with many of the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors, including Jocaste in Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex (Sir John Eliot Gardiner/Berlin Philharmonic & London Symphony Orchestras, released as an LSO Live disc), Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (Sir John Eliot Gardiner/Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique at the BBC Proms, Carnegie Hall and on disc), Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (Welser-Möst/Cleveland and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestras, Sir John Eliot Gardiner/Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique), Waltraute in Wagner’s Die Walküre (Sir Simon Rattle/Bayerische Rundfunks Symphony Orchestra and on disc), Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder (Kalmar/Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Brabbins/BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Dausgaard/BBC National Orchestra Of Wales), Mahler’s Second Symphony (Zinman/Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Lintu/Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, De la Parra/London Philharmonic Orchestra), Mahler’s Third Symphony (Welser-Möst/Cleveland Orchestra, Zinman/Orchestre National de Lyon), Mahler’s Eighth Symphony (Welser-Möst/Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra), Mahler’s Rückert Lieder (Zinman/Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Kalmar/Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Sondergard/Royal Scottish National Orchestra), Mahler’s Das Lied Von Der Erde (Marin/Hamburg Symphony Orchestra), Elgar’s Sea Pictures (Sir Jeffrey Tate/Hamburg Symphony Orchestra), Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius (Brabbins/BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Hill/Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra), Verdi’s Requiem (Gardner/Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Slatkin/Orchestra National de Lyon), Schumann’s Das Paradies und die Peri (Gatti/Accademia Di Santa Cecilia), Schumann’s Faustszenen (Harding/Gewandhausorchester and Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Schonwandt/Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra), Adès’s Totentanz (Adès/Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Harding/Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra), and Pasqualita in Adams’ Doctor Atomic (Adams/BBC Symphony Orchestra, recorded for Nonesuch).

She made her solo recital debut at the Wigmore Hall accompanied by Joseph Middleton and broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. She is a founder member of The Prince Consort, with whom she has recorded for Linn Records, and has appeared in recital at Wigmore Hall, the Concertgebouw and the Aldeburgh Festival. Her extensive discography includes Anthony Payne’s arrangement of Vaughan Williams’ Four Last Songs with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins for Albion Records, which she premiered at the BBC Proms (Vänska/BBCSO) and which was nominated for a Grammy Award.

Jennifer’s engagements in Season 2019-20 include Brigitta in a new production of Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt, and Hedwige in Rossini’s Guillaume Tell, both at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Baba the Turk in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress at the Glyndebourne Festival, Auntie in Britten’s Peter Grimes at Oper Frankfurt, Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass at the First Night of the Proms (Kanellakis/BBC Symphony Orchestra), Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (Welser-Möst/Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Stutzmann/Bamberg Symphony Orchestra), Mahler’s Das Lied Von Der Erde (on tour with Treviño/Basque National Orchestra), Mahler’s Second Symphony (Hrůša/Philharmonia Orchestra), Mahler’s Third Symphony (Treviño/RTE Symphony Orchestra), Mahler’s Eight Symphony (K. Petrenko/Bayerische Staatsorchester), Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex (Treviño/Malmö Symphony Orchestra), Verdi’s Requiem (Farnes/BBC National Orchestra Of Wales), Beethoven’s Opferlied (Gernon/BBC Philharmonic Orchestra) and Elgar’s Sea Pictures (Hill/Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra). She will be Artist in Residence at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, for whom she will sing Mahler’s Second and Third Symphonies (V. Petrenko), Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (Stutzmann), Messiah (Jeannin), and a recital with Joseph Middleton at St George’s Hall. Her debut solo disc, A Love Letter To Liverpool, will be released in September 2019 by Rubicon Classics.

Performance Schedule

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    19:30 11 Oct 2019 National Concert Hall Dublin, DUBLIN

    GUSTAV MAHLER Symphony No. 3 in D minor

    Mezzo: Jennifer Johnston
    Conductor: Robert Trevino

From The Green Room


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    ADAMS: Dr Atomic

    Label: Nonesuch

    Release Date: 29 Jun 18

    BBC Symphony Orchestra
    BBC Singers
    Conductor – John Adams

    Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer – Gerald Finley
    Kitty Oppenheimer – Julia Bullock
    Edward Teller – Brindley Sherratt
    Robert Wilson – Andrew Staples
    Pasqualita – Jennifer Johnston
    General Leslie Groves – Aubrey Allicock
    Frank Hubbard – Marcus Farnsworth
    Captain James Nolan – Samuel Sakker

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    HAMILTON: Requiem

    Label: Naxos

    Release Date: 10 Nov 17

    Conductor: Timothy Hamilton

    Soprano: Ilona Domnich
    Mezzo Soprano: Jennifer Johnston
    Tenor: Nicky Spence
    Bass: David Stout
    Piano: Ian Tindale

    Rosenau Sinfonia

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    STRAUSS: Die Liebe der Danae

    Label: Unitel

    Release Date: 22 Jul 17

    Salzburg Festival

    Conductor: Franz Welser-Möst
    Director and Sets: Alvis Hermanis

    Danae: Krassimira Stoyanova
    Jupiter: Tomasz Konieczny
    Merkur: Norbert Ernst
    Pollux: Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke
    Xanthe: Regine Hangler
    Midas alias Chrysopher: Gerhard Siegel
    Four Kings: Pavel Kolgatin, Andi Frueh, Ryan Speedo Green, Jongmin Park
    Semele: Maria Celeng
    Europa: Olga Bezsmertna
    Alkmene: Michaela Selinger

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    MOZART: Betulia liberata

    Label: Deutsche Grammophon

    Release Date: 01 Feb 07

    Music by WA Mozart
    Jeremy Ovenden, Marijana Mijanovic, Julia Kleiter, Franz-Josef Selig, Irena Bespalovaite, Jennifer Johnston
    Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor
    Münchener Kammerorchester
    Christoph Poppen

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    Label: Dutton Digital

    Release Date: 01 Nov 04

    Music by Sir Henry Walford Davies
    Elena Ferrari, Jennifer Johnston, Andrew Staples, Pauls Putnin
    London Oriana Choir; Kensington Symphony Orchestra
    David Drummond (conductor)

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    On An Echoing Road

    Label: Linn Records

    Release Date: 02 Nov 09

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    Britten Songs - Vol.2

    Label: Onyx records

    Release Date: 13 Dec 12

    Malcolm Martineau accompanies Allan Clayton, Jennifer Johnston, Nicky Spence, Benjamin Hulett, Benedict Nelson, Elizabeth Atherton and Robin Tritschler

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    The Prince Consort

    Label: Linn Records

    Release Date: 01 Jun 11

    The Prince Consort: ‘Other Love Songs’, Brahms and Hough

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    DEBUSSY: The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian

    Label: BBC Music/Radio3

    Release Date: 03 Oct 11

    BBC National Orchestra & Chorus of Wales
    Jennifer Johnston (mezzo soprano)
    Thierry Fischer (conductor)

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    THUILLE: Songs

    Label: Champs Hill Records

    Release Date: 06 Sep 13

    Sophie Bevan (soprano), Jennifer Johnston (mezzo-soprano), Mary Bevan (soprano) and Joseph Middleton (piano)

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    BEETHOVEN: Missa Solemnis

    Label: Presto Classical

    Release Date: 18 Nov 13

    Beethoven: Missa Solemnis in D major, Op. 12
    Recorded live at the Barbican Hall, London, October 2012
    Lucy Crowe (soprano), Jennifer Johnston (mezzo), James Gilchrist (tenor), Matthew Rose (bass)Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
    Monteverdi Choir
    Sir John Eliot Gardiner

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    STRAVINSKY: Oedipus Rex, Apollon Musagete

    Label: LSO Live

    Release Date: 24 Apr 14

    Jennifer Johnston (Jocasta), Stuart Skelton (Oedipus), Gidon Saks (Creon), Fanny Ardant (narrator)
    Gentlemen of the Monteverdi Choir
    London Symphony Orchestra
    Sir John Eliot Gardiner

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    Maurice Jacobson: Theme and Variations, The Music Room & Mosaic

    Label: Naxos

    Release Date: 01 Jun 14

    Jennifer Johnston (mezzo-soprano), Raphael Wallfisch (cello), Julian Jacobson (piano); Mariko Brown (piano)
    The Music Room, The Song of Songs, The Lord is my shepherd

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    You promised me everything

    Label: Champs Hill Records

    Release Date: 04 Aug 14

    Vocal & choral works by Cheryl Frances Hoad
    One Life Stand (for mezzo soprano and piano);There is no Rose(for soprano,piccolo and bass clarinet)
    Psalm 1 (for choir and organ)
    You promised me everything last night (for soprano, piano 4 hands and cello)
    Beowolf (for mezzo soprano and piano)
    Piano: Joseph Middleton and Alisdair Hogarth

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    ELGAR: Sea Pictures

    Label: BBC Music

    Release Date: 01 Apr 15

    Jennifer Johnston (mezzo-soprano)
    BBC National Orchestra of Wales
    Francesco Angelico (conductor)
    Recorded live at the Prichard-Jones Hall, Bangor, North Wales in November 2014

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    Label: Albion Records

    Release Date: 30 Sep 16

    by Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Four Last Songs for Mezzo-Soprano and Orchestra (orchestrated by Anthony Payne)and other workJennifer Johnston (mezzo-soprano)
    BBC Symphony Orchestra
    Martyn Brabbins

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    Label: Harmonia Mundi

    Release Date: 21 Oct 16

    Duruflé: Requiem, Op. 9 and other works
    Jennifer Johnston (mezzo-soprano)
    Neal Davies (bass)
    Guy Johnston (cello)
    Matthew Jorysz (organ)
    Choir of Clare College, Cambridge
    Graham Ross

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    Purer than Pearl

    Label: Albion Records

    Release Date: 28 Oct 16

    Songs and Duets by Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Jennifer Johnston (mezzo-soprano) and various artists

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    19 Jul 19 BBC Prom 1 - Space-Age First Night BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
    Royal Albert Hall

    “The soloists are variously challenged in the piece. Asmik Grigorian sang with plangent beauty, making Janáček’s lines radiant without ever quite convincing that the text meant very much to her. Jennifer Johnston was wonderfully expressive and trenchant.”
    Robert Hugill, Opera Today

    Best of all was the singing: the soloists (Jennifer Johnston, Asmik Grigorian, standing above, Ladislav Elgr and Jan Martiník) all made distinctive contributions. An excellent performance, too, from the BBC Symphony Chorus, their combined tone weighty but nimble, providing both the power and the grace that Janáček’s massive but often intimate score demands.”
    Gavin Dixon, The Arts Desk

    “Part two was devoted to Janáček’s elemental Glagolitic Mass – one of the greatest 20th Century choral works. Soloists including tenor Ladislav Elgr and mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston were crisp and clear.”
    Mark Savage, BBC News

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    20 Jan 19 MAHLER - Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen / DU YUN - Where We Lost Our Shadows Aurora Orchestra
    Southbank Centre

    “the Pakistani singer Ali Sethi embroidered exquisite raga material around the colours of western orchestral sounds, eventually joined, to ethereal effect, by the British mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston (who also sang, terrifically, Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen).”
    Fiona Maddocks, Observer

    “It is typically eerie and disturbing fare for an ancient folk song, and its transformative journey began with a lyrical arrangement by Iain Farrington, full of blissful harp and Jennifer Johnston’s sensitive, delicate mezzo-soprano… Johnston and the orchestra then moved seamlessly into a rendition of Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, full of tension and grace, an interlude of surety and warmth… The main musical joys were twofold: raga singer Ali Sethi, whose beautiful vocal lines eventually interlaced with those of Johnston’s western tradition, leading us toward a deeply affecting conclusion.”
    Gus Mitchell, Bachtrack

    “Amid all this, Johnston movingly performed Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer, forged from “love and sorrow and world and dream”
    Rebecca Franks, The Times

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    14 Sep 18 MAHLER: Second Symphony RTE National Symphony Orchestra
    National Concert Hall, Dublin

    “English mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston captured the mood precisely for one of Mahler’s most poignant passages, one that ends, however, on a note of hope rather than despair, which she pulled off perfectly.”
    Michael Roddy, Bachtrack

    “The RTÉ NSO played Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony under Robert Trevino with the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir on glorious form and a particularly touching contribution from mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston in this most stirring of late-19th-century symphonies.”
    Michael Dervan, The Irish Times

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    29 Jul 18 WAGNER Götterdämmerung
    Bayerische Staatsoper

    “The Rhinemaidens and Norns were, without exception, excellent. I especially loved the contrasting colours – Jennifer Johnston’s contralto-like mezzo in particular – and blend from the latter in the opening scene.”
    Mark Berry, Opera Today

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    02 Jul 18 ADAMS Doctor Atomic
    CD - BBC Symphony Orchestra

    “All else is compelling on every level, with superb British support from Brindley Sherratt as doubtful fellow physicist Edward Teller and three younger generation singers, tenor Andrew Staples, baritone Marcus Farnsworth and contralto Jennifer Johnston, mesmeric in maid Pasqualita’s lullabies.”
    BBC Music Magazine

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    20 May 18 BEETHOVEN: Ninth Symphony Franz Welser-Möst, Cleveland Orchestra
    Severance Hall, Cleveland

    “Erin Wall, Jennifer Johnston, Norbert Ernst, and Dashon Burton were an unusually well-matched quartet of soloists”
    Timothy Robson, Bachtrack

    “The four guest vocalists, soprano Erin Wall, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston, tenor Norbert Ernst, and bass-baritone Dashon Burton, deployed themselves with individual and collective élan.”
    Zachary Lewis, Cleveland

    “Jennifer Johnston brought warmth to the alto parts.”
    Mark Jordan, Seen And Heard International

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    01 Apr 18 HAMILTON Requiem

    “The soloists are excellent. Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston shines; her powerful intonation of the Agnus Dei is one of the high points. Johnston’s versatile instrument conveys both the tenderness and the drama in this familiar plea for clemency.”
    American Record Guide

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    15 Apr 18 MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde
    Laeiszhalle, Hamburg

    “Was dort fehlte, machte die Mezzosopranistin Jennifer Johnston in ihren drei Liedern wieder wett. Sie bekam und nahm sich mehr und mehr die nötigen Freiräume, um zu gestalten und nicht lediglich mitzuhalten. Mit den ins Verklingen gesungenen “Ewig … ewig …”-Worten im Finale von “Der Abschied”, umspielt vom Sternenstaub aus Celesta, Harfe und Streichern, löste dieser Abschluss ein, was dem Ende des Symphonie-Adagios nicht gelungen war.”
    Joachim Mischke, Abendblatt

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    11 Jan 18 WAGNER Das Rheingold
    Bayersiche Staatsoper

    “den fabelhaften Rheintöchtern (Christine Landshamer, Rachael Wilson und Jennifer Johnston) Hoffnung machte, den ihnen so entraubten goldenen Schatz zurückzuerhalten.”
    Norman Schwartze, Bachtrack

    “Auch die Damen konnten sich in dem Männer-dominierten Vorabend des Bühnenfestspiels sehen und hören lassen! Allen voran die leichtfüßigen und begehrenswerten Rheintöchter Christina Landshammer, Rachael Wilson und Jennifer Johnston, die so betörend sangen, dass man den armen Alberich in seiner Enttäuschung schon etwas verstehen konnte.”
    Gisela Schmöger, Online Merker

    “…the Rhine daughters were superb: Christina Landshamer (Woglinde), Rachel Wilson (Wellgunde) and Jennifer Johnston (Flosshilde).”
    José M. Irurzun, Seen and Heard International

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    26 May 17 MAHLER: Rückert-Lieder Royal Scottish National Orchstra

    “Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder brought a real discovery (for me) in the shape of mezzo Jennifer Johnston. Hers is an extraordinary voice, with a chest voice of arresting power that is reminiscent of a contralto. That strong centre to the voice gave her an almost declamatory air in ‘Um Mitternacht’, like an ancient prophetess, before a transcendent, triumphant ending as the singer places her trust in God. The RSNO brass crowned this moment, too, and the orchestra as a whole gave a folksy feel to ‘Liebst du um Schönheit’. ‘Ich bin der Welt’ was then beautifully controlled, allowed neither to wallow nor to lose focus.”
    Simon Thompson, Seen and Heard International

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    25 Apr 17 ADAMS Doctor Atomic
    Barbican, London

    “Dialogue is urgent and complex, offset by the expansive, impassioned outpourings of Kitty Oppenheimer and her Tewa Indian maid Pasqualita, sung in both instances with heartfelt grace by the soprano Julia Bullock and the mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston.”
    Fiona Maddocks, The Observer

    “In Act Two, the human response to the impending catastrophe has a numinous twist in the contralto range of Tewa Indian Pasqualita, a very specific role … The always impressive Jennifer Johnston had exactly the right timbre”
    David Nice, The Arts Desk

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    09 Feb 17 SCHUMANN Das Paradies und die Peri
    Accademia Santa Cecilia; Daniele Gatti

    “Il contralto Jennifer Johnston canta assai bene il ruolo dell’Angelo, ieratica e sicura
    negli acuti, come nel registro medio, conferendo agli interventi angelici
    particolare sacralità”
    L’Ape Musicale 

    ‘Gatti era sostenuto da una compagnia di canto di notevole livello: forza e dolcezza nelle voci di Angel Blue (Peri) e Jennifer Johnston (L’Angelo)’
    Sandro Cappelletto

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    29 Jan 17 ELGAR Sea Pictures
    Hamburg Symphoniker; Jeffrey Tate

    ‘Von ganz anderer kompositorischer Qualität war daraufhin der Liederzyklus „Sea Pictures op. 37“ von Edward Elgar, in dem die Orchesterregister als Begleitung zur wundervoll singenden Mezzosopranistin Jennifer Johnston viel besser aufgefächert wurden. Passend zu „Des Meeres Schlummerlied“ symbolisierten Harfenarpeggien die Gischt und in den Bläsern waren sowohl die Wellen als auch aufsteigende Luftbläschen aus der Tiefe des Ozeans zu hören. Johnstons glanzvoller, in der tiefen Lage sanft schimmernder Mezzosopran veredelte den „Sabbatmorgen auf dem Meer“ nach einem Gedicht von Elizabeth Barrett Browning, der sich plötzlich zu einem schwelgerischen Hymnus aufschwang und mit einem kraftvollen hohen Ton der Sängerin wahrlich heldinnenhaft beendet wurde. Jennifer Johnston überzeichnete nicht und setzte die richtigen Akzente in diesem von allerlei Klangfarbenzauber durchtränkten Werk, das im vierten Lied „Das Land, wo die Korallen blühen“ gar an Puccini erinnerte.’
    Helmut Peters, Die Welt




Doctor Atomic – Pasqualita

Bluebeard’s Castle – Judith

CO2 – Gaia

Wozzeck –  Margret

Les Troyens – Didon/Cassandre

Gawain – Lady de Hautdesert

Albert Herring – Mrs Herring

The Rape of Lucretia – Lucretia

Peter Grimes – Mrs Sedley and Auntie

The Turn of the Screw – Mrs Grose

Rusalka – Ježibaba

Agrippina – Agrippina

Guilio Cesare – Cornelia

Hänsel und Gretel – Witch / Mother

Jenůfa – Kostelnička

Káťa Kabanová – Kabanicha

Die Tote Stadt – Brigitta

Hérodiade – Title Role

Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor – Meg Page

Dialogues des Carmélites – Mere Marie

Madama Butterfly – Suzuki

Suor Angelica – La Principessa / Mother of the Novices

Gianni Schicchi – Zita / La Ciesca

Dido and Aeneas – Dido / Sorceress

Guillaume Tell – Hedwige

Samson et Dalila – Dalila

Salome – Herodias

Elektra – Klytemnestra

Die Liebe Der Danae – Leda

Oedipus Rex – Jocasta

The Rake’s Progress – Baba the Turk

Das Rheingold – Fricka / Erda / Floßhilde 

Die Walküre –  Fricka / Waltraute / Roßweise

Siegfried – Erda
Götterdämmerung – Waltraute / Zweite Norn / Floßhilde

Tristan und Isolde – Brangäne

Tannhäuser – Venus

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg – Magdalena

Falstaff Mistress Quickly




St Matthew Passion, St John Passion, B Minor Mass, Christmas Oratorio

Sieben frühe Lieder


Symphony No 9, Missa Solemnis, Mass in C

L’Enfance du Christ, Le Mort de Cleopatre, Les Nuits d’ete

Alto Rhapsody

Phaedra, Spring Symphony, A Charm of Lullabies

Mass no.1 in D Minor, Mass no.3 in F Minor

Chants d’Auvergne


Poème de L’Amour et de la Mer


Stabat Mater, Requiem

The Dream of Gerontius, Sea Pictures, The Kingdom, The Apostles, Coronation Ode, The Music Makers


Arianna a Naxos, Nelson Mass, Paukenmesse

Symphonies 2, 3 and 8, Das Lied von der Erde, Rückert Lieder , Das Klagende Lied, Kindertotenlieder, Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen


Requiem, Vesperae solennes de confessore, Coronation Mass

Il Tramonto

Petite Messe Sollenelle, Stabat Mater

Faustszenen, Das Paradies und die Peri

Pierrot Lunaire

Jewish songs

Pulcinella, Oedipus Rex

Child of our Time

Four Last Songs

Messa di Requiem

Wesendonck Lieder