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Cheryl Studer (born October 24, 1955) is a Grammy Award winning American dramatic soprano who has sung at many of the world's major opera houses. A singer with unusual versatility, Studer has performed more than eighty roles ranging from the dramatic repertoire to roles more commonly associated with lyric sopranos and coloratura sopranos. Because of her ability to sing many different kinds of roles, some critics have compared Studer's voice to that of Lilli Lehmann. She is most admired for her interpretations of the works of Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner.

Early childhood and education

Studer was born in Midland, Michiganmarker to parents Carl W. Studer and Elizabeth S. Studer (formerly Smith, later Peterson), in a family of three children. She began studying the piano at age five and a few years later the viola. She became interested in becoming an opera singer after listening to the album "Callas à Paris" at the age of 12. Her mother and stepfather, Carl A. Peterson, Jr., responded by giving her voice lessons with Gwendolyn Pike, a local opera singer and voice teacher. Studer attended Herbert Henry Dow High Schoolmarker, then transferred to the Interlochen Arts Academy for her junior and senior years and graduated from there in 1974. Following high school, Studer studied at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music but left the program after only one year, deciding to move with her family to Tennessee. She continued her studies at the University of Tennesseemarker at Knoxville, and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Vocal Performance in 1979. Studer won several awards and competitions during this time, including the High Fidelity/Musical America Award in 1977 and the Metropolitan Opera Auditions in 1978.

While in college, Studer attracted the attention of Leonard Bernstein, who offered her full scholarships to study for three consecutive summers at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood (1975 to 1977), where she studied with Phyllis Curtin. She debuted at Tanglewoodmarker in 1976 in Bach's St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Seiji Ozawa. Ozawa was so impressed with Studer's performance that he invited her for a series of concerts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall during the 1978-1979 season.

In the summer of 1979, Studer attended a course for foreign students on the art of the German Lied at the Schubert Institute in Baden bei Wienmarker, Austria. In this program, Studer's teachers included Irmgard Seefried, Brigitte Fassbaender, and Hans Hotter. Hotter convinced Studer to remain in Europe to study further with him at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst, Viennamarker. Studer studied with Hotter for one year before launching out on her professional career. In 1979, she won the Franz-Schubert-Institut-Preis for excellence in Lied interpretation.

Career

1980s

In 1981, Studer was hired as a permanent member of the Bavarian State Opera by Wolfgang Sawallisch. She remained with the company for two consecutive seasons, singing mostly minor roles in their productions. Her lead roles at the Bavarian State Opera included the title role in Carl Maria von Weber's Euryanthe and Mařenka The Bartered Bride. It was while working with the Bavarian State Opera that Studer was first encouraged to study the works of Wagner and the dramatic soprano repertoire. Up to this point she had focused mostly on the bel canto repertoire, with her only foray into German repertoire up to that point being through lieder. She made her professional opera debut with the company as Helmwige in Wagner's Die Walküre. At the end of the 1981-82 season, she left the Munich ensemble to join the Staatstheater Darmstadt for two seasons. In the spring of 1983, Studer's big breakthrough came when she was cast as Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata with the Staatstheater Braunschweigmarker. This was followed by two more important roles the following summer: Irene in Wagner's Rienzi and Drola in Wagner's Die Feen, under the direction of Wolfgang Sawallisch at the Bavarian State Opera's Summer Music Festival. In 1984, Studer left the Staatstheater Darmstadt to become a permanent member of the Deutsche Oper Berlinmarker ensemble. She stayed with the company for two full seasons. Also in 1984, Studer made her US opera debut with the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Micaela in Bizet's Carmen.

In 1985, Studer garnered international attention with her performance of Elisabeth in Wagner's Tannhäuser under the baton of Giuseppe Sinopoli at the Bayreuth Festivalmarker. Positive reviews of this performance quickly led Studer to leading roles in the world's most prestigious opera houses. In 1986, Studer made her debut at the Liceumarker as Freia in Wagner's Das Rheingold and her debut at Opéra de Paris as Pamina in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. That same year, she also made her debut with the San Francisco Opera as Eva in Wagner's Die Meistersinger. In 1987, Studer made her debut with the Royal Opera Housemarker, Covent Gardenmarker as Elisabeth in Wagner's Tannhäuser and her debut at La Scalamarker as Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni. In 1988, Studer made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Micaela in Bizet's Carmen. That same year she returned to La Scalamarker to perform the role of Mathilde in Rossini's William Tell. She also sang the role of Agathe in Carl Maria von Weber's Der Freischütz at the Théâtre Musical de Paris. In 1989, Studer made her Vienna State Operamarker and Salzburg Festival debuts playing the same role, Chrysothemis in Richard Strauss' Elektra. That same year, Studer received the Grand Prix du Disque - Prix Maria Callas. Also in 1989, Studer returned to La Scalamarker to perform the role of La Duchesse Hélène in Verdi's I Vespri Siciliani and made her debut with the Opera Company of Philadelphia in the title role of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor.

1990s

In 1990, Studer returned to the Metropolitan Opera to sing the role of Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni. That same year, Studer sang the role of Elsa in Richard Wagner's Lohengrin at the Vienna State Operamarker. In 1991, Studer performed two more roles at the Met, Elettra in Mozart's Idomeneo and Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata. That same year, Studer sang the role of Odabella in Verdi's Attila at La Scalamarker and Countess Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro at the Vienna State Operamarker. Also in 1991, Studer shared the Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording with fellow artists for a recording of Wagner's Götterdämmerung. In 1992, Studer returned to the Salzburg Festival to perform the role of the Empress in Die Frau ohne Schatten. That same year, Studer embarked upon her first big European tour, giving acclaimed recitals of mostly German Lieder. Studer is particularly admired for her interpretations of Schubert, Brahms, Mahler, Strauss and Hugo Wolf.In 1993, Studer was chosen by an international jury as the first recipient of the International Classical Music Award (London)in the category Best Female Singer of the Year. That same year, she also received the Wilhelm Furtwängler Prize. Also in 1993, Studer performed the role of Madama Corstese in Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims with the Berlin Philharmonic. In 1994, Studer was chosen as Musical America's Vocalist of the Year. That same year she also received a second Grammy Award for a recording of Floyd's Susannah. Studer sang the title role opposite Samuel Ramey. Also in 1994, Studer returned to the Royal Opera Housemarker, Covent Gardenmarker to sing the title role in Verdi's Aïda.

In 1995, she sang the role of Princess von Werdenberg in Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier for the first time at the Salzburg Festival. In 1996, Studer sang the role of The Marschallin in Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier at the Vienna State Operamarker. That same year, Studer returned to the Royal Opera to sing the title role of Richard Strauss' Arabella. She also sang the role of Leonore in Beethoven's Fidelio at the Salzburg Festival under the baton of Sir Georg Solti. In 1998, Studer sang the role of Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus and Sieglinde in Die Walküre at the Staatsoper. That same year she also sang the role of Primadonna/ Ariadne in Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos at the Munich, Nationaltheater. During the late 1990s, Studer had a period of vocal problems that led to the Bavarian State Opera canceling her contracts in 1998, but after a brief time off the stage, her performances indicated a return to form and the Bavarian State Opera renewed her contract for fourteen more productions.

2000-present

In 2000, Studer returned to the Metropolitan Opera to sing the role of Princess von Werdenberg (the Marschallin) in Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier. That same year, Studer sang the title role of Richard Strauss' Arabella at the Zürich Opera. She also filled in as a last minute Sieglinde in Die Walküre at the Bayreuth Opera. and sang the role of Primadonna/ Ariadne in Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos with the Vienna State Operamarker in Tokyo, Japan. In September 2002, Studer sang the role of Leonore/Fidelio in staged performances at the Opera Thessaloniki in Thessalonikimarker, Greece, conducted by Dejan Savic. In 2003, Studer performed several excerpts from Wagner operas with the Saint Louis Symphony under the direction of Asher Fisch. Studer also sang the soprano part in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in Berlin during UNESCOmarker's official designation of the symphony's manuscript as Memory of the World.

In October 2005, Cheryl Studer sang the role of Sieglinde in Richard Wagner's first-ever Ring Cycle in China, at Beijing's Poly Theatre. The cycle was produced by Stephen Lawless for the Staatstheater Nürnberg, conducted by Philippe Auguin.

In November 2005, it was reported, that Studer suffered a mild heart attack, forcing her to cancel a number of scheduled concerts in Spain. Studer actually cancelled one recital because of ill health and has to date never suffered any kind of heart attack.

Cheryl Studer is currently preparing the roles of the Countess in Richard Strauss' Capriccio and Kundry in Richard Wagner's Parsifal, the latter her 14th Wagner role to date. In addition, the soprano is said to be also preparing the role of Gertrud in Engelbert Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel.

Concert work

From the mid 1980s up until today Studer has performed with some of the world's finest orchestras as a concert soloist. She has sung with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the China Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw, the Boston Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic among many others. Her concert repertoire includes the great symphonic works and orchestral Lieder from Beethoven, Mozart, Verdi, Bruckner, Rossini, Dvořák and Mahler, Wagner's Wesendonk-Lieder, Strauss's Vier letzte Lieder and final scenes from Salome and Capriccio, Schoenberg's Gurrelieder, Berg's Sieben Fruehe Lieder, Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and Ravel's Shéhérazade. Studer has also toured extensively as a recitalist, performing throughout Europe and the United States and parts of Asia and South America. Her current recital repertoire includes art songs by Brahms, Schubert, Schumann, Wolf, R. Strauss, Mahler, Ravel, Massenet, de Falla, Verdi, Rossini, Copland and Barber, among others.

Opera roles

* Agathe, Der Freischütz (Carl Maria von Weber)
* Aïda, Aïda (Verdi)
* Amina, La sonnambula (Bellini)
* Arabella, Arabella (Richard Strauss)
* Ariadne, Ariadne auf Naxos (Richard Strauss)
* Brünnhilde, Götterdämmerung (Wagner)
* Chrysothemis, Elektra (Richard Strauss)
* The Countess, Capriccio (Richard Strauss)
* Daphne, Daphne (Richard Strauss)
* Desdemona, Otello (Verdi)
* Donna Anna, Don Giovanni (Mozart)
* Drolla, Die Feen (Wagner)
* Elettra, Idomeneo (Mozart)
* Elisabeth, Tannhäuser (Wagner)
* Elsa, Lohengrin (Wagner)
* The Empress, Die Frau ohne Schatten (Richard Strauss)
* Euryanthe, Euryanthe (Carl Maria von Weber)
* Eva, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner)
* Gilda, Rigoletto (Verdi)
* Giulietta, Les contes d'Hoffmann (Offenbach)
* Hanna Glawari, Die lustige Witwe (Franz Lehár)
* Helmwige, Die Walküre (Wagner)
* Irene, Rienzi (Wagner)
* Isolde, Tristan und Isolde (Wagner)


* Juliette, Roméo et Juliette (Gounod)
* Konstanze, Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Mozart)
* Kundry, Parsifal (Wagner)
* La Contessa, The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart)
* La Duchesse Hélène, I vespri siciliani (Verdi)
* Leonora, Il trovatore (Verdi)
* Leonore/Fidelio, Fidelio (Beethoven)
* Lucia, Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti)
* Madama Corstese, Il viaggio a Reims (Rossini)
* Mařenka, The Bartered Bride (Smetana)
* The Marschallin, Der Rosenkavalier (Strauss)
* Marguerite, Faust (Gounod)
* Mathilde, Guillaume Tell (Rossini)
* Micaëla, Carmen (Bizet)
* Odabella, Attila (Verdi)
* Pamina, The Magic Flute (Mozart)
* The Queen of the Night, The Magic Flute (Mozart)
* Rosalinde, Die Fledermaus (Johann Strauss II)
* Salome, Hérodiade (Jules Massenet)
* Salome, Salome (Richard Strauss)
* Semiramide, Semiramide (Rossini)
* Sieglinde, Die Walküre (Wagner)
* Senta, Der fliegende Holländer (Wagner)
* Susannah, Susannah (Carlisle Floyd)
* Violetta, La traviata (Verdi)


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Discography

Complete opera recordings



Concert recordings

Solo recordings



Television and DVD appearances



References

Sources



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