Born in County Durham, Sarah Connolly studied piano and singing at the Royal College of Music, of which she is now a Fellow. She was made a DBE in the 2017 Birthday Honours, having previously been made a CBE in the 2010 New Year’s Honours. In 2011 she was honoured by the Incorporated Society of Musicians and presented with the Distinguished Musician Award. She is the recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s 2012 Singer Award.
Highlights in her 2017⁄18 season include her debut at the Wiener Staatsoper in a new production of Ariodante, the title role in Giulio Cesare at the Glyndebourne Festival and Brangäne Tristan und Isolde for the Gran Teatro del Liceu.
Past highlights have included Fricka (Covent Garden & Bayreuther Festspiele) Brangäne Tristan und Isolde (Covent Garden & Festspielhaus Baden-Baden); Komponist Ariadne auf Naxos and Clairon Capriccio (Metropolitan Opera); the title role in Giulio Cesare, Brangäne and Gertrude in the world premiere of Brett Dean’s Hamlet (Glyndebourne Festival); the title role in Ariodante and Sesto La clemenza di Tito (Festival d’Aix-en-Provence); Purcell’s Dido (Teatro alla Scala & Covent Garden); Jocaste in Enescu’s Œdipe (Covent Garden); Gluck’s Orfeo and the title role in The Rape of Lucretia (Bayerische Staatsoper); Phèdre Hippolyte et Aricie (Opéra national de Paris) and the title role in Agrippina and Nerone L’Incoronazione di Poppea (Gran Teatro del Liceu).
She has also sung the title role in Maria Stuarda and Roméo I Capuleti e i Montecchi (Opera North); Komponist (Welsh National Opera) and Octavian Der Rosenkavalier (Scottish Opera). A favorite at the English National Opera, her many roles for the company have included Geschwitz Lulu; Octavian; the title roles in Charpentier’s Medée and Handel’s Agrippina, Xerxes, Ariodante and Ruggiero Alcina; the title role in The Rape of Lucretia; Didon Les Troyens; Roméo, Susie The Silver Tassie and Sesto - for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera.
The future sees her return to the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, the Opéra national de Paris and make her debut at the Teatro Réal in Madrid.
Her many concert engagements include appearances at the Lucerne, Salzburg, Tanglewood and Three Choirs Festivals and at the BBC Proms where, in 2009, she was a memorable guest soloist at The Last Night. Other notable engagements have included The Dream of Gerontius (Boston Symphony Orchestra/Sir Colin Davis & Mozarteumorchester Salzburg/Bolton); Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 at the BBC Proms (LSO/Haitink); A Child of our Time and Brangäne (Berliner Philharmoniker/Rattle); Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (Leipzig Gewandhausorchester/Chailly, Boston Symphony Orchestra/von Dohnanyi & Philadelphia Orchestra/Nézet-Séguin); Das Lied von der Erde (Concertgebouworkest/Harding, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra/Nézet-Séguin & LPO/Jurowski); Des Knaben Wunderhorn (L’Orchestre des Champs-Elysées/Herreweghe) and La mort de Cléopâtre (Hallé/Elder, CBSO/Gardner & BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis).
She has appeared in recital in London, New York, Boston, Paris, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, San Francisco, Atlanta, Stuttgart; at the Incontri in Terra di Siena La Foce and the Schubertiada Vilabertran and at the Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Edinburgh and Oxford Lieder Festivals.
Committed to promoting new music, her world premiere performances include Judith Bingham’s The Colour of Fire (Two Moors Festival); Torsten Rasch’s A Welsh Night (Three Choirs Festival); Gareth Farr’s Relict Furies (Edinburgh Festival); Jonathan Harvey’s Songs of Li Po (Aldeburgh Festival) and Sir John Tavener’s Tribute to Cavafy (Symphony Hall, Birmingham) and Gnosis (BBC Proms).
A prolific recording artist, her many discs include Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (OAE); Des Knaben Wunderhorn (L’Orchestre des Champs-Élysées/Herreweghe - winner of an Edison Award); Brangäne Tristan und Isolde (LPO/Jurowski); Elgar’s Sea Pictures and The Dream of Gerontius (BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis – winner of a Gramophone Award); Britten’s Phaedra (BBC Symphony Orchestra/Gardner) and Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor and Haydn’s Scena di Berenice (Gabrieli Consort/McCreesh). Her roles on DVD include Giulio Cesare, Nerone, Clairon and Purcell’s Dido. Her recording of Handel arias with The Sixteen and Harry Christophers was described as ‘the definition of captivating’ and her three solo recital discs The Exquisite Hour, Songs of Love and Loss and My true love hath my heart have all won universal critical acclaim. She features on the soundtrack Fragments of a Prayer by Sir John Tavener, for the feature film Children of Men.