Susan Elizabeth Futral (born September 27, 1963, Johnston County, North Carolina) is an American coloratura soprano who has won acclaim throughout the United States as well as in Europe, South America, and Japan.
Raised in Covington, Louisiana, Futral earned a bachelor’s degree in music performance from Samford University. After studying with Virginia Zeani at Indiana University, she spent two years as an apprentice with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She first garnered acclaim in the title role of the 1994 New York City Opera production of Delibes’ Lakmé. Edward Rothstein wrote in The New York Times: "Ms Futral's performance was crucial to the success of the evening.... Ms Futral was refined and accurate, hitting her high notes without strain or artifice, giving her vocal acrobatics warmth without ever succumbing to egoism. She was not out to prove anything; the song ['The Bell Song'] was not laden with excessive emotion or elaborate musical gestures: it had the virtues of her performance throughout the evening, offering simplicity, grace and directness." In 1995 Futral won 2nd Prize in Plácido Domingo's Operalia International Opera Competition. In 1996 she was invited to the Rossini Opera Festival to sing the title role in the first production of Rossini's Matilde di Shabran since 1821. Later that year, she sang the role of Catherine in Meyerbeer's L'étoile du nord at the Wexford Festival.
In September 1998, she created the role of Stella in the world premiere of André Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire for the San Francisco Opera. In February 2001, she debuted with the Los Angeles Opera as Cleopatra in Handel’s Giulio Cesare. Other roles she has sung for the Los Angeles Opera include Sophie in Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier and Violetta in Verdi's La traviata.
On January 8, 1999, Futral made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera in the title role of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. In 2003, she sang the role of Princess Eudoxie in the Met's first performances of Halévy’s La Juive since 1936. She returned to the Met in December 2006 to star opposite Plácido Domingo and Paul Groves in the world premiere of Tan Dun’s The First Emperor, later appearing in I puritani. In 2009 she portrayed Laura Jesson in the world premiere of Houston Grand Opera's production of André Previn's Brief Encounter with Nathan Gunn as Alec Harvey.
The soprano's recordings include Six Characters in Search of an Author, L'étoile du nord, A Streetcar Named Desire, Otello (of Rossini), Lucia di Lammermoor (in English translation), Of Mice and Men (of Floyd), Zelmira, Orpheus & Euridice (of Gordon), and Brief Encounter (with Nathan Gunn), as well as "Sweethearts" (on Newport Classic).
Futral and her husband, noted conductor and artistic director of Opera Roanoke Steven White, live in Franklin County, Virginia, near Roanoke.
- North Carolina Birth Index, 1800-2000 (Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.), 2005.
- "Coloratura fireworks amid colorful exoticism" by Edward Rothstein, The New York Times, September 20, 1994, retrieved on September 23, 2006
- Elizabeth Futral Official website
- USOperaWeb interview with Futral
- MetOpera archives database
- Roanoke Times article