Saturday, August 27, 2011

Eclectic Works From Soprano Susan Dunn in 1982 Recital

An early portrait of Susan Dunn
from the cover of Opera News
magazine in July 1987.
Thanks to YouTube user Sutherland9 we are able to hear some extraordinary musical excerpts from a recital that Grammy Award-winning soprano Susan Dunn gave on September 24, 1982. The clips represented show quite an expanse of repertoire for the spinto most well-known for the music of Giuseppe Verdi. During her career she sang 14 complete operas of the Italian master, including Nabucco, I Masnadieri, I Vespri Siciliani, Giovanna d'Arco, Un Giorno di Regno, Attila and Macbeth. This recital is auspicious for the Arkansas-native because it is the same year she made her professional opera stage debut in the title role of Verdi's Aida at the Peoria Civic Opera in Illinois. Within a decade she was singing at the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala and the Vienna State Opera. Although she scaled her career back significantly in the mid-1990s, she still performs frequently these days in addition to heading the vocal music program Opera Workshop at Duke University. She lives in North Carolina with her husband - conductor and composer - Scott Tilley. [Source]

"Dank sei Dir, Herr" (Händel)

"E Susanna non vien...Dove sono" Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart)

"Vissi d'arte" Tosca (Puccini)

"Pace, pace mio Dio" La Forza del Destino (Verdi)

"I know where I'm goin'" Irish folk song

"Johnny we hardly knew ye" Irish folk song

Be sure to check out the latest CD release from the soprano. Listen to clips by clicking here: "In the late 1970s, John Wustman came to Indiana University as a guest faculty member. He chose the Mörike-Lieder as the focus of his first semester. After several classes, I worked up the courage to sing 'Schlafendes Jesuskind' for him. His comment as I finished was that we could make a recording together. Thus began our relationship as mentor-accompanist and singer. As my career began and John and I appeared in concert together, I began to dream of recording the Mörike-Lieder with him. From that dream was born a concert presenting all fifty-three songs in two evenings at Duke University. Thomas Potter, my friend and a fellow student of Mr. Wustman, served as our baritone voice for the songs that required the masculine perspective. The Mörike-Lieder, composed in less than nine months of white-hot inspiration, provide the singer with an incredible array of color, character and vocal challenges. As the singer manages technical and interpretive complexities, the accompanist navigates an arduous path of pianistic virtuosity. At first I was drawn to the eight religiously themed songs, but I have come to embrace the naughty 'Erstes Liebeslied eines Madchens,' the gently humorous 'Rat einer Alten,' the tragic 'An Eine Aolsharfe,' and the moody 'Die Geister am Mummelsee.' Mörike poetry is by turns sensual, humorous, mournful, and eerie, but always evocative. Wolf, using a harmonic language akin to that of Wagner, but without the long- windedness, manages to capture the heart of each poem, often distilling the essence into a few measures a couple of intense pages. After years of studying the Mörike-Lieder together and separately, John, Thomas and I offer this recording. Our hope is that the listener will fall in love with them just as we have." [Source]

Maestro Chailly with the lirico-spinto circa 1990.
Read the June 1989 article in the New York Times about Susan Dunn by clicking here and another wonderful article about the singer's background here. Biographical information and more video clips are after the jump.

Susan Dunn (born 1954) is an award winning American spinto soprano who has graced many of the world's finest opera houses, concert halls, and theaters in operas, oratorios, and concert performances. Dunn is particularly admired for her

"Dich teure halle"
Tannhäuser (Wagner)
portrayals of Verdi heroines. She currently lives in Durham, North Carolina where she works as a professor of vocal music at Duke University. Susan Dunn was born on July 23, 1954 in Malvern, Arkansas to A.C. and Cynthia Dunn and grew up in Bauxite, Arkansas. Dunn has a younger sister, Phyllis Dunn Jankowski. Dunn credits her childhood musical experiences at New Hope United Methodist Church as fostering an early love for singing within her. Her first solo was in Bible School at the age of 5. Dunn would remain active in her church's music program throughout her childhood and teenage years. When Dunn was in sixth grade, she convinced her parents to buy her a piano and began taking piano lessons every Saturday for many years in Benton, Ark. Dunn graduated from Bauxite High School in 1972. Although Dunn's parents were not college educated, they were determined that their two children would attend college and receive the finest education available to them. She entered Hendrix College in 1972 where she studied vocal music with Harold Thompson. After graduating from Hendrix College in 1976, Dunn went on to graduate studies at Indiana University from which she earned a Masters of Music

"Surta è la notte...
Ernani! Ernani, involami"
Ernani (Verdi)
in Vocal Performance in 1980. Dunn continued her studies at the University of Illinois privately with renowned vocal coach and accompanist John Wustman. While studying with Wustman, Dunn won several prestigious vocal competitions and awards including the D'Angelo Young Artist Competition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the Opera Company of Philadelphia's Luciano Pavarotti International Vocal Competition. In 1983, Dunn won three more honors including the coveted Richard Tucker Award, Chicago's WGN-Illinois Opera Competition and the Dallas Morning News' G.B. Dealey Award. Dunn began her professional performing career in the early 1980s appearing in operas with good regional companies in the United States. She made her professional debut in 1982 in the title role of Verdi's Aida with the Peoria Civic Opera. After winning several major awards and competitions, Dunn's career began to take off. In 1985 she sang Sieglinde in Die Walküre at Carnegie Hall. In 1986, Dunn made her debut at Avery Fisher Hall with

"Arrigo! Ah, parli a un core"
I Vespri Siciliani (Verdi)
Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic as the soprano soloist in a production of Verdi's Requiem. That same year she made her European debut as Hélène in Les vêpres siciliennes at the Teatro Comunale and her debut at La Scala as Aida. In 1987, Dunn made her debut with Cincinnati Opera as Desdemona in Verdi's Otello. Dunn reprised the role the following year in her debut with Opera Australia. Dunn made several other debuts in 1988 including the role of Leonora in Verdi's Il trovatore with San Diego Opera, Leonora in Verdi's La forza del destino with Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Elisabetta in Verdi's Don Carlo with Dallas Opera. Dunn also sang with James Conlon and the Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale at the 1988 Edinburgh International Festival. In 1989, Dunn made her debut with the Vienna State Opera as Amelia in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera and reprised the role later that year in her debut with the Houston Grand Opera. Dunn also recorded Verdi's Requiem with Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony that year which went on to win a Grammy Award. In 1990, Dunn made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera as Leonora in Verdi's Il trovatore and her Carnegie Hall debut with the Opera Orchestra of New York as Elena in Verdi's I vespri siciliani. In 1991, Dunn made her Cologne Opera debut as Amelia in Verdi's Simon Boccanegra. In 1992, Dunn made her debut at London's Albert Hall with the
London Symphony Orchestra. Dunn continued to be a prominent figure on the opera stage until the mid 1990s when she decided to take a teaching position at Duke University. Dunn has appeared with other notable companies such as the San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera and Pittsburgh Opera. Dunn has also performed with several notable orchestras including the Orchestre de Paris, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the American Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, and the Minnesota Orchestra among others. Dunn has performed at several notable music festivals including the Tanglewood Festival, the Cincinnati May Festival, the Ravinia Festival, Wolf Trap, the Casals Festival, the Festival Saint Denis and the Northwest Chamber Music Festival among others. Dunn has worked with some of the world's
Susan Dunn with husband Scott Tilley.
best conductors, including Sir Georg Solti, Riccardo Chailly, Claudio Abbado, James Conlon, Lorin Maazel, Seiji Ozawa, Edo de Waart, Zubin Mehta and Daniel Barenboim among others. Throughout her career, Dunn has performed as a solo recitalist and chamber musician singing at such places as Avery Fisher Hall and Lincoln Center among others. Although Dunn still performs professionally, she spends most of her time heading the vocal music program and Opera Workshop at Duke University. Dunn is married to American conductor and composer Scott Tilley. Honors and awards include the 1988 Hendrix College Distinguished Alumna award, as well as being named a University of Illinois Distinguished Alumna and the 2005 Baccarat Award for achievement in the arts by the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation. [Source]

VIDEO INDEX: "Fuggiam gli ardori inospiti...Vieni meco, insiem fuggiamo" Aida (Verdi); "Oh, ben s'adice" Giovanna D'Arco (Verdi); "Arrigo! Ah, parli a un core" I Vespri Siciliani (Verdi); "Libera me" Requiem (Verdi)

The emergence of a true Verdi soprano is an event of international importance in the music world, and Susan Dunn has achieved not only this Verdian stature, but has been equally acclaimed for her Wagner, Mahler, Strauss and recital singing during the meteoric rise of her career. This American soprano has demonstrated her

extraordinary gifts on the world's most challenging stages: La Scala in Milan, where she made her debut in Aïda; New York's Carnegie Hall, where she created a sensation in a concert performance of Act I of Wagner's Die Walküre; at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall where she appeared with the New York Philharmonic in the Verdi Requiem and Strauss' Four Last Songs; with the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Leonora in Verdi's La Forza del Destino; at Chicago's Orchestra Hall in a concert performance of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra; at the Vienna State Opera as Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera and at the Australian Opera as Desdemona in Otello. She made her debut at
the Metropolitan Opera in Il Trovatore in February of 1990. She has worked with the world's preeminent maestros, including Sir Georg Solti, Riccardo Chailly, Claudio Abbado, James Conlon, Lorin Maazel, Seiji Ozawa, Edo de Waart, Zubin Mehta and Daniel Barenboim. A native of Bauxite, Ark., Dunn is completely American trained, having studied at Hendrix College, at Indiana University and then at the University of Illinois privately with the renowned coach and accompanist, John Wustman. During the final years of her studies, Dunn began to attract the attention of the music world and also to win prestigious awards: the D'Angelo Young Artist Competition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council
Award and the Opera Company of Philadelphia/Luciano Pavarotti International Vocal Competition, and then in 1983 three major honors - The Richard Tucker Award, Chicago's WGN-Illinois Opera Competition and the Dallas Morning News - G.B. Dealey Award. Dunn's initial successes brought her to the attention of major musical capitals, and she was soon appearing on their stages. She made her Italian operatic debut at Bologna's Teatro Comunale in Verdi's seldom heard I Vespri Siciliani. This was soon followed by her La Scala debut in the title role of Aïda; she triumphed as Leonora in Il Trovatore at the Washington Opera and her debut with the New York Philharmonic followed in
performances of the Verdi Requiem. She has also appeared with the orchestras of Rotterdam and Amsterdam, the Berlin Radio Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris, the Chicago Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony and at major international festivals including Tanglewood, the Cincinnati May Festival, Ravinia, Wolf Trap, the Casals Festival, Edinburgh and Saint-Denis. Opera appearances have included the Lyric Opera of Chicago in La Forza del Destino, and Aïda, the Dallas Opera in Don Carlo, the Houston Opera in Un Ballo in Maschera, the Vienna State Opera, again in Un Ballo in Maschera, the Australian Opera in Otello and Simon Boccanegra, a return to the
Teatro Comunale di Bologna for a major revival of Verdi's Giovanna d'Arco, and the Cologne Opera for Simon Boccanegra. Dunn has recorded an album of arias for London/Decca Records with Riccardo Chailly conducting. She sings Tove in London/Decca's recording of Schoenberg's Gurrelieder and appears on that label's recording of Mahler's Das Klagende Lied, all with Maestro Chailly conducting. In addition to Act I of Die Walküre (with Lorin Maazel conducting) recorded for the Telarc label, Miss Dunn is also the soprano soloist in their release of the Verdi Requiem. This recording, with Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony, was awarded a "Grammy" as the Album of the
Year of 1988. The Giovanna d'Arco and I Vespri Siciliani performances from Bologna are also available on video. I Vespri Siciliani was re-released in 2005 on DVD format by Kultur. In addition to a busy concert schedule, Miss Dunn serves as head of the vocal program at Duke University where she teaches voice, directs the Opera Workshop, and is Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Music. The Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation honored Miss Dunn with its Baccarat Award for achievement in the arts in 2005. [Source]

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