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Musical World

Deborah Voigt

  • Soprano

Biography

In the coming season, Deborah Voigt makes her much-anticipated role debut as Brünnhilde in Robert Lepage’s new production of Wagner’s Die Walküre with James Levine at the Metropolitan Opera. Her busy season at the Met continues with her house role debut as Minnie in Puccini’s La fanciulla del West with Nicola Luisotti, a performance that marks the 100th anniversary of the opera’s world premiere there. One performance of each of these roles will be featured in the popular “Met: Live in HD” series, transmitted live to movie theaters across the U.S. and overseas. Other appearances include another house debut as Minnie, this time at Lyric Opera of Chicago with Andrew Davis, and her Washington National Opera debut as Salome – a role for which she has been hailed as “one of the greatest Strauss interpreters of all time” (Wall Street Journal) – in a new production by Francesca Zambello. In concert, Voigt sings Beethoven’s “Ah, Perfido!” with the Dresden Staatskapelle and Daniel Harding, part of Lincoln Center’s fall gala; she performs Broadway songs with the Collegiate Chorale at Carnegie Hall; and she joins the New York Philharmonic and David Robertson for Schoenberg’s monodrama Erwartung. Next summer, Voigt will be the first artist-in-residence at the Glimmerglass Festival in upstate New York. Among her various projects there, she will coach young singers, perform in a one-woman show written by Terrence McNally and directed by Francesca Zambello, and star in the title role of Irving Berlin’s beloved musical Annie Get Your Gun.

In 2009-10, Voigt opened Lyric Opera of Chicago’s season in the title role of Tosca, gave a “winning performance” (San Francisco Examiner) in her role debut as Minnie at San Francisco Opera, and made her Zurich Opera debut in the title role of Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. She reprised a signature role – Wagner’s Isolde – at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu, and two more at the Metropolitan opera – Chrysothemis in Strauss’s Elektra and Senta in Wagner’s Fliegende Holländer, impressing the New York Times with her “steely power and lyrical elegance.” She took her highly regarded Salome to Switzerland’s Verbier Festival under Valery Gergiev, and to Japan’s Saito Kinen Festival. She sang the daunting soprano role in Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Mariss Jansons, and gave a recital of repertoire stretching from Verdi to Bernstein in Zurich. She appeared at the fifth annual Opera News Awards, gave gala performances for WNYC and the Dallas Opera, and reprised her role as host of the Met’s “Live in HD” broadcasts, lending her engaging personality to two of its popular international transmissions.

Voigt’s wide-ranging repertoire also includes starring roles (several of which she has recorded) in Strauss’s Egyptian Helen, Der Rosenkavalier, and Friedenstag; Wagner’s Lohengrin, Tannhäuser, and Die Walküre; and Berlioz’s Les Troyens.

Voigt’s extensive discography includes two popular solo recordings for EMI Classics – both of which were critical successes. The Washington Post praised the “discerning eye” behind the adventurous choice of repertoire for All My Heart with pianist Brian Zeger, and noted that it was “performed by a voice outstanding not only for tone and power but for interpretive subtlety and emotional nuance.” Voigt’s earlier disc, Obsessions, presents scenes and arias from operas by Wagner and Strauss. Gramophone’sreview of the Billboard top-five bestseller states, “The arias highlight Voigt’s extraordinary ability to soar effortlessly and luminously above the orchestra with her trademark rich, lustrous, never hard or brittle voice.” Her recording of Strauss’s Egyptian Helen was also a Billboard bestseller, and was named one of the best CDs of the year by Opera News. A live recording of the 2003 Vienna State Opera Tristan und Isolde, in which Voigt made her headlining role debut, was released by Deutsche Grammophon.

A devotee of Broadway and American song, Deborah Voigt has given acclaimed performances of popular fare, including benefit concerts for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and New York Theatre Workshop. “Voigt ... comes to pop-singing naturally. ... If this were 1970, she would probably be given her own network variety show,” raved Opera News. She has sung concerts with Barbara Cook and Dianne Reeves at the Hollywood Bowl and given performances in Lincoln Center’s long-running “American Songbook” series, singing Broadway and popular standards. Variety reported, “Deborah Voigt, perhaps the foremost dramatic operatic soprano of the day ... [is] profoundly aware that each song has a story to tell; her delivery is expressively honest and her voice lustrous and creamy. ... Voigt crosses the opera-Broadway boundary with grace and elegance, harboring a strength reserved for special moments. She is also in the possession of a devilish sense of humor, which was delightfully used to frame a lyric with a naughty smile.” Millions of viewers heard Voigt sing “America the Beautiful” on NBC’s nationwide broadcast of Macy’s Independence Day fireworks show in 2004, and later that year they witnessed her majestic ride down Broadway in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

Deborah Voigt studied at California State University at Fullerton. She was a member of San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, and won both the Gold Medal in Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Competition and First Prize at Philadelphia’s Luciano Pavarotti Vocal Competition. Voigt is a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and was Musical America’s Vocalist of the Year 2003. In 2007 she won an Opera News Award for distinguished achievement, and in 2009 she received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of South Carolina.