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- Denyce Graves - Biographical Sketch -

          Recognized worldwide as one of today's most exciting vocal stars, Denyce Graves continues to gather unparalleled popular and critical acclaim in performances on four continents.
USA Today identified her as one of the "singers most likely to be an operatic superstar of the 21st Century," and after a recent performance in Atlanta, the Journal-Constitution exclaimed, "if the human voice has the power to move you, you will be touched by Denyce Graves."

            Her career has taken her to the world's great opera houses and concert halls. The combination of her expressive, rich vocalism, elegant stage presence, and exciting theatrical abilities allows her to pursue a wide breadth of operatic portrayals as well as delight audiences in concert and recital appearances. Denyce Graves has become particularly well-known to operatic audiences for her portrayals of the title roles in
Carmen and Samson et Dalila.

These signature roles have brought
Ms. Graves to the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna Staatsoper, Royal Opera - Covent Garden, San Francisco Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Washington Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, Arena di Verona, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Opernhaus Zürich, Teatro Real in Madrid, Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Los Angeles Opera, and the Festival Maggio Musicale in Florence.

            Denyce Graves made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in the 1995-96 season in the title role of
Carmen. She returned the following season to lead the new Franco Zeffirelli production of this work, conducted by James Levine, and she sang the opening night performance of the Metropolitan Opera's 1997-98 season as Carmen opposite Plácido Domingo. She was seen again that season as Bizet's gypsy on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera for Domingo's 30th Anniversary Gala, and she made her debut in Japan as Carmen, opposite the Don José of Roberto Alagna. Ms. Graves appeared in a new production of Samson et Dalila opposite Domingo at the Metropolitan Opera, and she was partnered again with Domingo in the 1999 season-opening performances of this work for Los Angeles Opera. She was seen as Saint-Saëns’ seductress with Royal Opera, Covent Garden and The Washington Opera, both opposite José Cura - the latter under the baton of Maestro Domingo, as well as with Houston Grand Opera. Her debut in this signature role came in 1992 with the Chicago Symphony at the Ravinia Festival under the direction of James Levine and opposite Mr. Domingo and Sherrill Milnes, and she made a return engagement to the Festival in this same role in 1997.

            Ms. Graves appears continually in a broad range of repertoire with leading theaters in North America and Europe. She recently sang her first performances of Judith in a William Friedkin production of Bartok’s
Bluebeard’s Castle in her return to Los Angeles Opera. Highlights of the mezzo-soprano’s other recent appearances include her first performances of the title role in La Périchole with the Opera Company of Philadelphia; a rare double-bill of El amor brujo and La vida breve specifically mounted for her by Dallas Opera; Federica in the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Luisa Miller, led by James Levine; and Nicklausse in Les contes d’Hoffmann with The Washington Opera. Ms. Graves’ debut with the Théâtre Musical de Paris – Chatelet was as Baba the Turk in a Peter Sellars/Esa-Pekka Salonen production of The Rake's Progress, and she returned to Covent Garden as Cuniza in Verdi's Oberto after her debut performances as Carmen. Her debut at Teatro alla Scala was as the High Priestess in La vestale led by Riccardo Muti, and she soon returned as Giulietta in a new production of Les contes d'Hoffmann and as Mère Marie in the Robert Carsen production of Les dialogues des Carmélites. Her first performances as Dulcinée in Massenet's Don Quichotte were with The Washington Opera. She appeared at Teatro Bellini in Catania in the title role of La favorita, and audiences in Genoa saw her first performances of Charlotte in Werther soon after her debut there as Carmen. In 1999 Ms. Graves repeated the role of Charlotte for Michigan Opera Theatre opposite the Werther of Andrea Bocelli in his first staged operatic performances. Her debut in Austria came as Carmen with the Vienna Staatsoper, and she has also been seen in this role with Grand Théâtre de Genève, Genoa’s Teatro Carlo Felice, the Bregenz Festival, and festivals in Macerata, Italy and San Sebastian, Spain. Ms. Graves gave her first performances of Adalgisa in Norma for Opernhaus Zürich.  In the 1999-2000 season, Denyce Graves gave her first performances as Amneris in Aida with Cincinnati Opera.

            Denyce Graves has worked with leading symphony orchestras and conductors throughout the world in a wide range of repertoire. She has performed with Riccardo Chailly, Myung-Whun Chung, Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, James Levine, Zubin Mehta, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Riccardo Muti, and Mstislav Rostropovich. Ms. Graves has appeared in Verdi's
Messa di Requiem with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, as well as for Rostropovich's farewell performances with the National Symphony. She performed Mahler's Kindertotenlieder with Orquesta Sinfonica de Sevilla, and repeated this work in concert engagements in Genoa and with the Kansas City Symphony. Mahler's Eighth Symphony was the vehicle of her debut with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and she traveled to Rio de Janeiro for Verdi's Requiem as well as Concert for Planet Earth, a gala performance celebrating the United Nation's Summit on the Environment. This concert was broadcast live around the world, and has been released on Sony video and audio recordings. Her debut with the BBC Symphony was in 2002 in a program of arias and songs under the baton of Gianandrea Noseda. She appeared as Marguerite in concert performances of La damnation de Faust with the Houston Symphony, led by Christoph Eschenbach, as well as with the Orchester der Beethovenhalle in Bonn. Her first performances of Mussorgsky's Songs and Dances of Death were with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and she returned to the Ravinia Festival to perform Rossini's Stabat Mater with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Riccardo Chailly. In Italy, she returned to the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa for Chausson's Poème de l'amour et de la mer, and she was seen in a program of Ravel's Shéhérazade and Gershwin works at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, where she also performed the title role in Honegger's Antigone. In Florence, she appeared in performances of Handel's Messiah with Zubin Mehta.

            One of the music world's most sought-after recitalists, Ms. Graves combines her expressive vocalism and exceptional gifts for communication with her dynamic stage presence, enriching audiences around the world. Her programs include classical repertoire of German
Lieder, French mélodie, and English art song, as well as the popular music of Broadway musicals, crossover and jazz together with American spirituals. For her New York recital debut, The New York Times wrote, "[h]er voice is dusky and earthy. She is a strikingly attractive stage presence and a communicative artist who had the audience with her through four encores." In the 1997-98 season, Denyce Graves completed her first solo recital tour with critically acclaimed performances throughout North America. Since the success of her tour, she has planned extensive recital tours through the 2005-06 season.

             In 2001 Ms. Graves gave a series of appearances in response to the tragic events in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.  Ms. Graves was invited by President Bush to participate in the National Prayer Service in Washington's National Cathedral in which she sang ‘America, the Beautiful’ and ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’ This event was televised worldwide and was followed by Ms. Graves' appearance on
The Oprah Winfrey Show in a live musical program of 'Healing through Gospel Music.' Ms. Graves has since participated in numerous other benefit concerts, and RCA Records released a recording of patriotic songs by Denyce Graves, the proceeds of which benefit various groups who have been affected by the events of September 11.

 Ms. Graves appears regularly on radio and television as a musical performer, celebrity guest, and as the subject of documentaries and other special programming. Her weekly show on XM Radio, a nation-wide satellite network, is titled “Voce di donna.” The program includes music and interviews with people in the world of music, including other singers, producers, presenters, and managers. In 1997 PBS Productions released a video and audio recording titled, Denyce Graves: A Cathedral Christmas, featuring Ms. Graves in a program of Christmas music from Washington's National Cathedral. This celebration of music including chorus and orchestra is shown each year on PBS during the Christmas season. She was seen on the Emmy-award winning BBC special "The Royal Opera House," highlighting Ms. Graves' debut performances there, and in a program of crossover repertoire with the Boston Pops, which was taped for national television broadcast. In December 1999 Ms. Graves participated in a concert given at the Nobel Peace Prize Awards in Oslo, Norway which was televised throughout Europe. As the only classical music artist to be invited for this event, she performed selections from her RCA Red Seal release alongside performances by Sting, Paul Simon, Tina Turner and others. She has been a frequent guest on television shows including Sesame Street, The Charlie Rose Show, and Larry King Live. In 1996 she was the subject of an Emmy-award winning profile on CBS's 60 Minutes.

             In 1999 Denyce Graves began a relationship with BMG Classics/RCA Red Seal. That same year
Voce di Donna, a solo recording of opera arias, was released on RCA Red Seal. Denyce Graves’ most recent RCA recording, The Lost Days, a recording with jazz musicians of Latin songs in the Spanish and Portuguese languages, was released in January 2003. In June 2003 Church was released. This recording, developed by Denyce Graves, brings together African-American divas from various forms of music, all of whom were first exposed to music through their upbringing in church. Participants recorded music of their choice and include Dr. Maya Angelou, Dionne Warwick, En Vogue, Patti LaBelle, and others. Other recordings of Ms. Graves include NPR Classics' release of a recording of spirituals, Angels watching over me, featuring the mezzo-soprano in performance with her frequent partner, Warren Jones and an album of French arias, Héroïnes de l'Opéra romantique Français, with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo under Marc Soustrot. Her full opera recordings include Gran Vestale in La vestale, recorded live from La Scala with Riccardo Muti for Sony Classical; Queen Gertrude in Thomas' Hamlet for EMI Classics; Maddalena in Rigoletto with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra under James Levine; and Emilia in Otello with Plácido Domingo and the Opéra de Paris, Bastille Orchestra under Myung-Whun Chung, both for Deutsche Grammophon.

             Denyce Graves begins the 2004-05 season with her return to the Bayerische Staatsoper in performances of the title role in Carmen. The mezzo-soprano then returns to The Washington Opera for her first performances as Azucena in Il trovatore. Ms. Graves appears throughout the United States in concert and recital appearances before returning to Europe for performances in Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 5 with the Bayerische Rundfunk. Audiences at the Metropolitan Opera see Denyce Graves in her reprisal of the role of Dalila, and she later continues her U.S. concert and recital tour. Ms. Graves ends her season with the creation of the title role in Magaret Garner, an opera by Richard Danielpour written specifically for her and to be performed with Michigan Opera Theater and Cincinnati Opera.

             In 2003 Denyce Graves was appointed as a Cultural Ambassador for the United States, and she now travels around the world under the auspices of the State Department appearing in good-will missions of musical performances, lectures, and seminars. Her first trips in 2003 brought her to Poland, Romania, and Venezuela. Ms. Graves has been the recipient of many awards, including the Grand Prix du Concours International de Chant de Paris, the Eleanor Steber Music Award in the Opera Columbus Vocal Competition, and a Jacobson Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation. In 1991, she received the Grand Prix Lyrique, awarded once every three years by the Association des amis de l'opéra de Monte-Carlo, and the Marian Anderson Award, presented to her by Miss Anderson.

             Denyce Graves is a native of Washington, D.C., where she attended the Duke Ellington School for the Performing Arts. She continued her education at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and the New England Conservatory. In 1998, Ms. Graves received an honorary doctorate from Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. She was named one of the "50 Leaders of Tomorrow" by
Ebony Magazine and was one of Glamour Magazine's 1997 "Women of the Year." In 1999 WQXR Radio in New York named her as one of classical music's "Standard Bearers for the 21st Century." Denyce Graves has been invited on several occasions to perform in recital at The White House, and she provides many benefit performances for various causes special to her throughout each season.

Biographical information courtesy of Ms. Graves.