Sarah Connolly

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For the American virologist, see Sarah A. Connolly.

Sarah Patricia Connolly CBE (born 13 June 1963)[1] is an English mezzo-soprano. Although best known for her baroque and classical roles, Connolly has a wide-ranging repertoire which has included works by Wagner as well as various 20th-century composers. She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours.[2]


Connolly was born in County Durham and educated at Queen Margaret's School, York, and then studied piano and singing at the Royal College of Music, of which she is now a Fellow. She then became a member of the BBC Singers for five years.[3][4]


Connolly's interest in opera and a full-time career in classical music began after she left the BBC Singers. She began her opera career in the role of Annina (Der Rosenkavalier) in 1994.[5] Her breakthrough role was as Xerxes in the 1998 English National Opera production of Handel's Serse (Xerxes), directed by Nicholas Hytner. In 2005 she sang the title role in Handel's Giulio Cesare for Glyndebourne Festival Opera. The DVD of the production, directed by David McVicar, won a Gramophone Award.[3][6] Singing the part of Sesto in McVicar's production of La Clemenza di Tito for English National Opera in 2006, Connolly was nominated for an Olivier Award. Her 2005 debut at the Metropolitan Opera was in the same opera, but in the role of Annio.

In 2009 she sang (in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas) at Teatro alla Scala and made her debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Dido in the same opera.[7] In 2010 she made her role debut of "Der Komponist" in Ariadne auf Naxos at the Metropolitan Opera. Connolly was awarded the 2011 Distinguished Musician Award from the Incorporated Society of Musicians.[8]

For her recital at Alice Tully Hall in New York, Connolly received a rave review in The New York Times.[9] She made her debut as ("Fricka") in Wagner's Der Ring (Royal Opera House)[10] and earlier that year she sang Phèdre in Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie (Paris Opéra at the Palais Garniér). Connolly reprised Phèdre for Glyndebourne Festival Opera in a production by Jonathan Kent 2013, conducted by William Christie.

Connolly won the Silver Lyre 2012 from the Royal Philharmonic Society for Best Solo Singer[11] and was nominated in the Best Female Singer category in the inaugural International Opera Awards held in London in 2013, and she was also the recipient of the 2013 Most Outstanding Achievement in a Main Role for WhatsOnStage Opera Poll as Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier with English National Opera.[12]

During the 2011 Gustav Mahler celebrations, Connolly performed all of his vocal works in the UK and abroad with The Philharmonia and Maazel, The LPO and Jurowski and Nezet Séguin, The LSO with Alsop, The OAE with Rattle and The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Chailly. She sang in the opening concert of the BBC Promenade Concerts of 2012, televised from the Royal Albert Hall, also performing Tippett's A Child of our Time later in the series. She is committed to promoting new music; her performances include Sir John Tavener's Tribute to Cavafy at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham and his film music to Children of Men. She also made the first commercial recording of Mark-Anthony Turnage's Twice Through the Heart with Marin Alsop and the London Philharmonic Orchestra having previously given the Belgian and Dutch premieres of the work with the Schoenberg Ensemble conducted by Oliver Knussen. She sang the role of Susie in the premiere production of Turnage's opera The Silver Tassie at English National Opera in 2000,[13][14]

Connolly's other commercial recordings include Schumann lieder with Eugene Asti for Chandos, "Songs of Love and Loss",[15] Korngold lieder with Iain Burnside, the Duruflé Requiem for Signum and Purcell's Dido and Aeneas with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment[16] for which she raised the funds and selected the cast for the recording.[3]

In September 2009 Connolly made her first appearance as a guest soloist at The Last Night of the Proms, singing Rule, Britannia! while wearing a replica Royal Navy uniform of Lord Nelson.[17]


She lives with her husband and their daughter (born in 2003)[5] in Gloucestershire.[3][4]

Operatic roles[edit]

Royal Opera House[edit]

Henry Purcell
Richard Wagner

Welsh National Opera[edit]

Richard Strauss

Opera North[edit]

Gaetano Donizetti
Vincenzo Bellini

English National Opera[edit]

Vincenzo Bellini
Hector Berlioz
Benjamin Britten
George Frideric Handel
Claudio Monteverdi
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Henry Purcell
Richard Strauss
Mark-Anthony Turnage
Marc-Antoine Charpentier

Scottish Opera[edit]

Glyndebourne Festival Opera[edit]

Opéra National de Paris[edit]

La Scala, Milan[edit]

Maggio Musicale, Florence[edit]

La Monnaie, Brussels[edit]

De Nederlandse Opera[edit]


Liceu, Barcelona[edit]


Festival d'Aix-en-Provence[edit]


Bavarian State Opera, Munich[edit]

Roles in the USA[edit]

New York City Opera
Metropolitan Opera
San Francisco Opera


Recordings include:


  1. ^ Tomorrow's birthdays, The Guardian, 12 June 2010
  2. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59282. p. 7. 31 December 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d Erica Jeal (10 October 2008). "Who wears the trousers?". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  4. ^ a b Neil Fisher (19 May 2009). "Sarah Connolly: The diva who wears the trousers". The Times. Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  5. ^ a b Ivan Hewett (21 September 2004). "Diva who dies for a living". Telegraph. Retrieved 23 May 2007. 
  6. ^ Hugh Canning (6 February 2005). "Sarah Connolly – stardom beckons". The Times. Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  7. ^ Erica Jeal (2 April 2009). "Dido and Aeneas; Acis and Galatea (Royal Opera House, London)". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  8. ^ "ISM celebrates singer Sarah Connolly". ISM Music Journal. January–February 2012. 
  9. ^ Woolfe, Zachary (15 April 2011). "A Mezzo Keeps It Simple, and Makes It Profound". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ "".  External link in |title= (help)
  11. ^ "".  External link in |title= (help)
  12. ^ "Winners of the Opera Poll 2013 announced". 24 February 2013. 
  13. ^ Michael Billington (18 February 2000). "Triumph from the trenches". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  14. ^ Edward Greenfield (12 July 2002). "Turnage, The Silver Tassie". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  15. ^ Tim Ashley (14 November 2008). "Classical review: Schumann: Frauenliebe Frauenliebe und -leben; Liederkreis Op 39, etc; Connolly/Asti". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  16. ^ Tim Ashley (13 February 2009). "Purcell: Dido & Aeneas; Connolly/ Bardon/ Finley/ OAE/ Devine/ Kenny". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  17. ^ Richard Morrison (14 September 2009). "Proms 73–76: Last Night of the Proms at the Albert Hall/ BBC TV/ Radio 3". The Times. Retrieved 21 November 2009. 
  18. ^ Tim Ashley (10 February 2006). "Sarah Connolly – The Exquisite Hour". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 May 2007. 

External links[edit]