'Othalie Graham is a Canadian dramatic soprano, whose operatic roles to date include the title roles of Puccini's Turandot, Verdi's Aida, Strauss' Elektra and Leonora in Verdi's Il trovatore as well as a role in Tosca and the role of Odabella in Attila. She is a protégé of the legendary soprano Lois McDonall and began her professional opera career in October 2004.
Othalie Graham was born in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. Her father, a Jamaican born Canadian, instilled in Graham a strong identification with Jamaican music and culture. When Graham was young, her father sparked her interest in opera by taking her to see a Leontyne Price recital. Her passion in opera grew while attending high school at the Etobicoke School of the Arts. While in Canada, Graham was awarded first place in the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques Competition and received the coveted Jean Chalmers prize in the Canadian Music Competition.
In 1989, she started college as a biology major.
In 2000, she began attending Philadelphia's prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts, or AVA. At AVA, she studied under Bill Schuman and continues to study with Schuman. In 2002, Graham won the Opera at Florham voice competition. In 2003, Graham won the Liederkranz Society's annual competition and made her New York City recital debut with that choral society. She was also the New Jersey district winner of the 2003 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a finalist in the 2003 Palm Beach Opera Competition. In 2004, Graham spent the summer training under the widely admired Italian opera singer Renata Scotto at the Renata Scotto Opera Academy at the Music Conservatory of Westchester.
Canadian-American Soprano Othalie Graham is critically acclaimed throughout North America. As Turandot, the Boston Globe says her “timbre and power were thrilling - steely ring from top to bottom - and her path from imperiousness to passion was convincing.” Of a recent performance as Tosca, the San Francisco Chronicle praised her “high-powered blend of musical assurance and theatrical temperament. Singing the role for the first time, Graham displayed a potent and secure soprano that soared effortlessly through the role. Most impressive was her blend of delicacy and sheer muscle, which often combined forces within the space of a single phrase...her rendition of ‘Vissi d’arte’ was a heartbreaker.”
Emerging into the Wagnerian repertoire, Ms. Graham’s notable roles include Senta in Der Fliegender Holländer, Isolde in Tristan und Isolde, Brünnhilde and Sieglinde in Die Walküre, and Elisabeth in Tannhäuser. Other prominent roles include the title role in Elektra, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Leonora in Fidelio, Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera, Leonora in La Forza del Destino, Ariane in Ariane et Barbe-Bleue, Serena in Porgy and Bess, and Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana.
Recent engagements include the title role in Turandot with Arizona Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Opera Columbus, Opera Delaware, Utah Festival Opera, Connecticut Grand Opera, and Sacramento Opera; Odabella in Attila with Sarasota Opera; the title role of Aida for the inaugural performance of the Istanbul International Opera Festival; Leonora in Il Trovatore with Utah Festival Opera; the title role in Tosca with Festival Opera; and the title role in Elektra at Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts. In the current 2010-2011 season and beyond, engagements include the title role of Turandot with the Vancouver Opera and Pensacola Opera, Minnie in La Fanciulla del West at the Nashville Opera, Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 and Turandot excerpts in concert with the Washington Chorus at the Kennedy Center, and Isolde in Tristan und Isolde with the Young Musicians Foundation Orchestra in California.
Concert highlights include a New York recital debut with the Liederkranz Society after winning its annual competition; a Wagner concert co-sponsored by the Wagner Society of Washington D.C. featuring Brünnhilde’s Immolation Scene from Götterdämmerung and Isolde’s Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde; Brünnhilde excerpts from Die Walküre for the L’Opera de Montreal gala; the title role in Turandot with Boston’s Chorus Pro Musica, the Westfield Symphony Orchestra, and the Harrisburg Symphony; Elijah with Bryn Terfel and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir; a featured appearance with Eve Queler at the Dahesh Museum of Art; as well as opera galas for Pacific Opera Victoria, Vancouver Opera, and Canada’s Oakville Symphony.
Ms. Graham was the first-place winner of the 2010 Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition in the Wagner Division; the first-place winner of the 2005 Joyce Dutka Competition; a recipient of the prestigious Sullivan Foundation Grant for 2005; and the first-place winner in the Wagner Division of the 2009 Liederkranz Competition. In Canada, her many awards and honors include the coveted Jean Chalmers prize in the Canadian Music Competition, winner of the Edward Johnson Competition, and first place in the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques Competition.
She is a graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts.
- First place in the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques Competition
- Jean Chalmers prize in the Canadian Music Competition
- Opera at Florham voice competition (2002)
- Liederkranz Society's annual competition (2003)
- The New Jersey district winner of the 2003 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (2003)
- Finalist in the 2003 Palm Beach Opera Competition (2003)
- Awarded the Sullivan Foundation Grant (2005)
- Shengold, David. (October 28, 2004) Citypaper.net. Othalie Graham.
- The Festival Opera Association. (2006) Othalie Graham bio. Accessed July 19, 2007.
- Rowe, Georgia. (July 6, 2006) Contra Costa Times. [Georgia Rowe: Classical Notes: "Tosca" fits soprano perfectly.] Section: Features; Page F4.
- North, Cheryl. (July 6, 2006) The Oakland Tribune. Can't go wrong with a masterwork by Puccini. Section: Cheryl North.
- Bugman, Cathy. (July 18, 2002) The Star-Ledger. Celebration for cancer survivors; Around town. Section: In the towns; Page 1.
- Othalie Graham website. Biography, Othalie Graham, soprano. Accessed July 19, 2007.