Brenda Harris

Soprano Brenda Harris appears in leading roles with many of the world’s most prominent opera companies and orchestras. Recent stellar reviews have said that “Brenda Harris delivered a stunning account of the vengeful Greek princess, distinguished by scrupulous observation of the score, including the marked pianissimos that are so rarely heard….Harris’s formidable achievement would easily transfer to a larger house, where she would sing the role more completely than most of her current competition” (Opera News) and “Pitch perfect, Harris exhibits a flawless legato with a naturalism that perfectly exemplifies the Bel Canto form” (The Examiner). Recent engagements have taken her to the stages of the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro Massimo (Palermo, Italy), Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center, New York City Opera, Opéra du Rhin in Strasbourg, Michigan Opera Theatre, the Canadian Opera Company, Edmonton Opera, Minnesota Opera, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis, among others.

This season, Ms. Harris reprises Lady Macbeth for New Orleans Opera, then returns to Minnesota Opera to premiere Carlotta Vance in Dinner at Eight this spring. She recently appeared as Cecillia March in Mark Adamo’s popular work, Little Women, and performed Kostelnička Buryjovka in Jenůfa for Des Moines Metro Opera.In 2014, she sang Lady Macbeth in Macbeth and June Mathis in The Dream of Valentino for Minnesota Opera as well as Abigaille in Nabucco with Opera Carolina. She returned to Minnesota in 2015 to create the role of Eleanor Iselin in the world premiere of The Manchurian Candidate and also returned to Des Moines Metro Opera to assay the role of Kostelnicka in Jenufa. During the 2012–2013 season, the soprano joined the Minnesota Opera as Abigaille in Nabucco, the Sarasota Opera as the title role in Turandot, Des Moines Metro Opera as the title role in Elektra and the Washington Concert Opera as Elisabetta in Maria Stuarda, whom she joined the previous season for Odabella in Verdi’s Attila. Additional engagements during the 2011–2012 season included Leonora in Fidelio with Utah Opera, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth with the Anchorage Opera and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with Des Moines Metro Opera.

Ms. Harris began the 2010–2011 season singing the title role of Norma with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, prompting KCMetropolis to write: “Norma exists as a vehicle for its singers and what a spectacular vehicle it is. Brenda Harris, in the title role, treated the audience on Saturday’s opening night to a master class of vocal elegance and beauty.” Additional performances during the season included Elisabetta in Maria Stuarda with Minnesota Opera and Madame Lidoine in Dialoguse of the Carmelites with Des Moines Metro Opera. Reviews for her performance as the title role of Norma with Tulsa Opera included “Her performance was filled with moments that just about took the breath away” (Tulsa World).

During the previous season she portrayed Lady Macbeth in Macbeth with Utah Opera, Opera Lyra Ottawa and Des Moines Metro Opera and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, where she “sang with remarkable emotional range, expressive power and raw beauty.” (Kansas City Star) Her Elisabetta in Roberto Devereux with Minnesota Opera received rave reviews including “In soprano Brenda Harris the company has an Elizabeth of surpassing gifts, wholly equal to the rigors of the role,” (Star Tribune) and “Harris executed the golden and silver filigree the bel canto singing style demands with a thrilling control infused with the passionate discontent of a queen wronged” (Minn Post).

During the 2008–2009 season she portrayed Agathe in Der Freischütz with the Des Moines Metro Opera, the Governess in The Turn of the Screw with the Portland Opera, and Anna Maurrant in Street Scene with the Chautauqua Opera, where she “simply steals the show with her satinwood voice and assured acting” (The Chautauquan Daily). During the prior season, she sang the title role in Tosca with Opera Cleveland, and then joined the Austin Lyric Opera singing Wagner and Verdi selections in a gala concert to mark the opening of their season. She sang Strauss’ Four Last Songs with the Austin Symphony and a program of Verdi selections with the Jacksonville Symphony.

During the 2005–2006 season, Ms. Harris sang the title role of Vanessa with both the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Italy and the Chautauqua Opera, the title role in Mercadante’s Orazi e Curiazi with Minnesota Opera, the title role of Norma with Michigan Opera Theatre, Katerina in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk with Austin Lyric Opera, and Violetta in La traviata with Fort Worth Opera. With Maestro Keith Lockhart at the podium, Ms. Harris was a soloist for Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony with the Utah Symphony.

Notable highlights of previous seasons include portraying Vitellia in La clemenza di Tito with the Metropolitan Opera, the title role of Agrippina, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, and Arminda in La finta giardiniera, all with the New York City Opera, Chrysothemis in Strauss’ Elektra with Austin Lyric Opera, both the title role in Agrippina and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni at the Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center, and the title role in Norma with the Minnesota Opera, Portland Opera and Michigan Opera Theatre. With the Atlanta Opera she was the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, Donna Elvira and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Desdemona in Otello, Violetta in La traviata, and Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte. She has appeared with the Canadian Opera Company as Aminta in Il re pastore, the Montreal Opera as Donna Anna, the Edmonton Opera as both Donna Anna and the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, the Vancouver Opera as Rosalinde, and the title role of Norma with the Opéra de Québec.

In Europe, Ms. Harris has appeared in Spoleto, Italy as Eva in Die Meistersinger, and with Opéra du Rhin in Strasbourg as both Vitellia in La clemenza di Tito and as the title role of Barber’s Vanessa. On the concert stage, she has performed as a soloist with the Saint Louis Symphony, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, Honolulu Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, and Boston Baroque, and has offered numerous concerts at Carnegie Hall with the Oratorio Society of New York.

Ms. Harris has made a habit of varying her career choices by successfully alternating 20th century and contemporary music (Schoenberg’s Moses und Aaron, Strauss’ Elektra, Weill’s Street Scene, Barber’s Vanessa, Hagen’s Shining Brow, and Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk) with the great standards (the title characters of NormaAriadne auf Naxos, and Tosca, Alice Ford in Falstaff and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, among others) as well as the occasional Baroque masterpieces (Handel’s AgrippinaTolemeo, and Deidamia). In addition to these, she has excelled in the dramatic bel canto roles of Donizetti (Roberto DevereuxMaria StuardaAnna Bolena, and Maria Padilla) and Rossini (SemiramideErmione, and Armida).

Brenda Harris has recorded leading roles for Newport Classic, including Scarlatti’s Ishmael, Handel’s Deidamia, and Haydn’s La cantarina and The Creation, and on the Vox label, Handel’s Tolomeo. Naxos released a recording of Shining Brow in fall 2008.

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