Roberta Alexander (born 3 March 1949, in Lynchburg, Virginia) is an American operatic soprano. She began her career as a leading soprano in 1975 and spent the next three decades performing principal roles with opera houses internationally. More recently she has performed secondary character roles on stage, including performances at the Grand Théâtre de Provence in 2013, La Scala in 2014, and La Monnaie in 2015. She performed the 5th maid in Strauss's Elektra at the Metropolitan Opera in 2016.
Life and career
Born in Lynchburg, Virginia, Alexander's mother was a singer, and her father was a choral conductor. She grew up in Yellow Springs, Ohio, after her family moved there when she was age 2. She studied music at Central State University, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and the Royal Conservatory of The Hague.
Alexander moved to the Netherlands at age 23. She made her debut at the Netherlands Opera in 1975 in La cambiale di matrimonio. Later that year she created the role of Bubikopf in the world premiere of Viktor Ullmann's Der Kaiser von Atlantis.
In 1980 Alexander made her American debut as Pamina in The Magic Flute with the Houston Grand Opera. She was an apprentice singer with Santa Fe Opera, and made her feature role debut with Santa Fe Opera under conductor John Crosby in the title role of Strauss' Daphne in 1981. Her Metropolitan Opera debut was in 1983 as Zerlina in Don Giovanni. In 1984 she made her debut at the Royal Opera, London as Mimì in La bohème. In 1989 she gave a lauded portrayal of the title role in Jenůfa at the Glyndebourne Festival. She has recorded for the Dutch label Etcetera Records, in addition to selected recordings for such labels as Philips.
Orchestras she has performed with include the Vienna, London and Royal Philharmonics; Royal Concertgebouw, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Bavarian Radio Orchestras; and the Cincinnati, Atlanta, Boston, and Dallas Symphony Orchestras. Conductors she has worked with include Vladimir Ashkenazy, Andrew Litton, Bernard Haitink, Sir Colin Davis, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, James Levine, Zubin Mehta, Carlo Maria Giulini, Leonard Slatkin, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Seiji Ozawa, André Previn, Sir Simon Rattle, and David Zinman.
- Johann Sebastian Bach: St John Passion, with the Staatskapelle Dresden conducted Peter Schreier on (Philips)
- Johann Sebastian Bach: Mass in B Minor, with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini on (Sony Classical)
- Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony no. 9, Royal Philharmonic conducted by Andre Previn (RCA)
- George Gershwin: Porgy and Bess, (selections), with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta (Teldec 46318);
- George Gershwin: Porgy and Bess, conducted by Leonard Slatkin, (Philips);
- Christoph Willibald Glück: Paride ed Elena, conducted by Michael Schneider (conductor)
- Berthold Goldschmidt: Beatrice Cenci; conducted by Lothar Zagrosek (Sony Classical)
- George Frideric Handel: Theodora – Roberta Alexander, Jochen Kowalski, Hans Peter Blochwitz, Concentus Musicus Wien, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Teldec)
- Handel: Samson – Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Roberta Alexander, Jochen Kowalski, Christoph Pregardien, Alastair Miles, Maria Venuti, Arnold Schoenberg Chor, Concentus Musicus Wien, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Teldec)
- Janáček: Jenůfa, conducted by Andrew Davis (Glyndebourne DVD)
- Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 4; Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam; conducted by Bernard Haitink (Philips 412 119-2)
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Don Giovanni, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Teldec)
- Antonio Salieri: Prima La Musica, Poi Le Parole, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Teldec)
- Georg Philipp Telemann: Ino, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Teldec 44633)
- Hendrick Andriessen: Miroir de Peine, Magna res est amor, Fiat Domine – with the Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra led by David Porcelijn (NM Classics, 1992 – winner of the Edison Award )
- Roberta Alexander sings Samuel Barber – arias from Vanessa and Antony and Cleopatra, plus Andromache's Farewell, Knoxville Summer of 1915, Songs with orchestra, Edo de Waart (conductor)
- Roberta Alexander – Broadway Songs, David Triestram
- Roberta Alexander – Songs my Mother taught me, Brain Masuda
- Leonard Bernstein: Songs, Roberta Alexander, Tan Crone
- Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: The Divan of Moses-Ibn-Ezra, Op. 207, Roberta Alexander, Dick Hoogeveen
- Giacomo Puccini: Songs, Roberta Alexander, Tan Crone, Raphael String Quartet
- Richard Strauss: Lieder, Roberta Alexander, Tan Crone
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Lieder, Roberta Alexander, Glen Wilson
- Charles Ives: Songs Volumes 1 and 2, Roberta Alexander, Tan Crone
- Aaron Copland: Songs, Roberta Alexander, Roger Vignoles
- Samuel Barber: Songs, Roberta Alexander, Tan Crone
- Heitor Villa-Lobos: Songs Volumes 1 and 2, Roberta Alexander, Alfred Heller, Diane Chaplin
- John Henken (1988-04-03). "A Pair of Firsts for Roberta Alexander". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-04-04.
- Ineke Jungschleger (1997-10-03). "De Nederlandse badkamer is mij een raadsel Roberta Alexander, diva tussen twee continenten". De Volksrant. Retrieved 2015-04-04.
- The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music, p. 13, Michael Kennedy, Joyce Bourne – 2004 "Alexander, Roberta (b Lynchburg, Va., 1949). Amer. soprano. Eur. début Netherlands Opera 1975. CG début 1980; NY Met début 1983; Salzburg Fest. 1986 ..."
- Donal Henehan (1981-08-03). "Santa Fe Troupe Gives Strauss's Daphne". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-04-04.
- Bernard Holland (1983-11-05). "Mozart's Don Giovanni In An Old Met Production". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-04-04.