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Susan Bickley


  • Susan Bickley is firmly established as one of the most accomplished mezzo-sopranos of her generation, with a wide repertory encompassing the Baroque, the great 19th and 20th century dramatic roles as well as contemporary repertoire. In May 2011 she received the prestigious Singer Award at the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards, the highest recognition for live classical music in the UK.

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  • This season’s highlights include Matron in Shostakovich The Nose at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Fricka in Wagner Das Rheingold for the Halle with Mark Elder, Paulina in Ryan Wigglesworth’s world premiere The Winter’s Tale for the English National Opera, and Genevieve in Debussy Pelleas et Melisande for Garsington Opera.

    Bickley has sung on many of the world’s great stages with conductors including Sir Mark Elder, Ingo Metzmacher, Trevor Pinnock, Sir Andrew Davis, Christian Curnyn, Sir Antonio Pappano and Mark Wigglesworth. Recent operatic highlights include Herodias Salome at Dallas Opera and San Francisco Opera, Messagiera Orfeo with the Royal Opera House at The Roundhouse; Mother in the world premiere of Tansy Davies’ Between Worlds, Eduige Rodelinda in a new production by Richard Jones, and Jocasta in the world premiere of Julian Anderson’s The Thebans, all for English National Opera; Kabanicha Katya Kabanova at Opéra de Paris, Kostelnicka Jenůfa, Baba the Turk The Rake’s Progress and Mrs Grose The Turn of the Screw at Glyndebourne, Irene Theodora, Ludmilla The Bartered Bride, Aksinya Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Babulenka The Gambler; Virgie Anna Nicole at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Madre in Nono’s Al gran sole carico d’amore at the Staatsoper Berlin and Salzburg Festival, Geschwitz Lulu at Opera Vlaanderen, Josefa Miranda in Love and Other Demons at Opéra National du Rhin in Strasbourg, Ghost in Birtwistle’s The Last Supper at the Staatsoper Berlin, Kabanicha, La Nourice Ariane et Barbe-bleue at Frankfurt Oper, Juno Semele, Storgè Jephtha, Dido/Sorceress After Dido, Mescalina Le Grand Macabre and Anne Two Boys at ENO and Ortrud Lohengrin and Brangäne Tristan und Isolde at Welsh National Opera.

    On the concert platform Bickley has performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras and ensembles. She made her debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra under Gustavo Dudamel in Knussen’s Where the Wild Things Are, her Carnegie Hall debut singing Stravinsky Requiem Canticles; has sung Ligeti Requiem and George Benjamin Upon Silence at the Salzburg Festival; opened the 2008 Edinburgh International Festival and regularly appears at the BBC Proms. Performances during the last couple of seasons include Alexander Nevsky, Fricka Die Walküre and Waltraute Götterdämmerung with the Hallé Orchestra, the latter of which was recorded for commercial release and won Best Opera Album at the 2010 Gramophone Awards. Other engagements include Rubbra’s Ode to the Queen with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra at the BBC Proms, Benjamin Into the Little Hill at the Messiaen Festival in La Meije, Auntie Peter Grimes with Sir Antonio Pappano and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Alice in Wonderland with NDR Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, Adès America: A Prophecy with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Mahler Symphony No.2 with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Bach B-minor Mass at the Barbican, London and performances with RundfunkChor Berlin, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Northern Sinfonia, BBC Scottish Symphony and at the Three Choirs Festival. Last season Bickley also sang Irene Theodora with the Internationale Händel-Festspiele Göttingen, Tippet’s A Child of Our Time with the Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Hallé.

    On the recital stage, Bickley has appeared with Roger Vignoles at the Kennedy Center in Washington, with Iain Burnside at the Wigmore Hall and at the Spitalfields Festival, and with Julius Drake at St John Smith’s Square and Oxford Lieder Festival. In autumn 2011 she performed songs and part-songs by Haydn at the Wigmore Hall with András Schiff and recently recorded songs by Poulenc with Graham Johnson for Hyperion.

    Susan Bickley’s other recorded repertoire includes songs by Ivor Gurney with Iain Burnside; Handel Serse, Theodora, Solomon; Purcell The Fairy Queen, Dido and Aeneas; Vivaldi Juditha triumphans; Reynaldo Hahn Songs; George Benjamin Upon Silence; Thomas Adès America: A Prophecy; and Simon Bainbridge Ad ora incerta and Primo Levi songs.

    Last season included a return to Opera North for three productions, as Kostelnicka in Janáček Jenufa, as well as Waltraute Götterdämmerung and Fricka Die Walküre in Wagner’s Ring Cycle. She also returned to Welsh National Opera to sing Marcellina The Marriage of Figaro, and reprised the role in summer 2016 at Glyndebourne Festival Opera. In concert, Bickley was heard in Adès America: A Prophecy with the BBC Philharmonic, as Baba the Turk in Stravinsky The Rake’s Progress at the Edinburgh International Festival, and in George Benjamin Into the Little Hill at Lincoln Center. 

    2016-2017 season / 778 words. Not to be altered without permission.


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Season highlights

Kostelnička Jenůfa
Opera North

Marcellina The Marriage of Figaro
Welsh National Opera

Fricka Die Walküre
Opera North

Marcellina Le nozze di Figaro
Glyndebourne Festival Opera

Waltraute Götterdämmerung
Opera North

Concert repertoire

Adès, Thomas

Ad ora Incerta


L'enfance du Christ
La mort de Cléopâtre
Roméo et Juliette

Missa Solemnis

Alto Rhapsody

Spring Symphony

Dream of Gerontius
Sea Pictures
The Kingdom

Scena di Berenice

Das Lied von der Erde
Symphony No. 2
Symphony No.3
Symphony No.8

Scenes and Arias


Alexander Nevsky


Ode to the Queen

Oedipus Rex
Les Noces


A Child of our Time


Wesendonck Lieder

Opera repertoire

Adams, John
Death of Klinghoffer

Barry, Gerald
Sidonie The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

Judith Bluebeard’s Castle

Countess Geschwitz Lulu

Cassandra, Dido Les Troyens

Ghost The Last Supper
The Second Mrs Kong

Florence Pike, Lady Billows Albert Herring
Mrs Sedley, Auntie Peter Grimes
Mrs Grose Turn of the Screw
Hippolyta Midsummer Night’s Dream
Bianca Rape of Lucretia
Queen Elizabeth I Gloriana

Geneviève Pelléas et Mélisande

Sara Roberto Devereux

La nourrice Ariane et Barbe-bleue

Juno The Judgement of Paris

Abbess Love and other Demons

Dejanira Hercules
Juno Semele
Irene Theodora
Storge Jephtha
Eduige Rodelinda
Cornelia Julius Caesar

Konfurstin Prince of Homburg
Carolina Elegy for Young Lovers


Kostelnicka Jenufa
Kabanicha Katya Kabanova
Emilia Marty The Makropulos Case

Mescalina Le Grand Macabre

Penelope Return of Ulysses
Ottavia Poppea

Marcellina Marriage of Figaro

Madre Il Gran Sole Carico D’amore

Babulenka The Gambler

Dido Dido and Aeneas

Aksinya Lady Macbeth of Mtensk

Ludmilla Bartered Bride

Heriodas Salome
Clairon Capriccio
Klytemnestra Elektra

Jocasta Oedipus Rex
Baba the Turk Rake’s Progress

Andromache King Priam

Mistress Quickly Falstaff

Fricka Die Walküre
Waltraute Götterdämmerung
Ortrud Lohengrin
Brangäne Tristan und Isolde
Kundry Parsifal

Begbick Rise and Fall of Mahagonny

Susan Bickley’s Baba reminded us, as if we needed it, what a complete artist this indispensable singer has become.


The dramatic highlight of the evening...Susan Bickley brought tears to the eyes with her moving description of Wotan’s solitary, forlorn existence in Valhalla as he awaits the gods’ demise. She seemed to inspire Mellor to her most gripping singing of the evening – a staggering performance.

Sunday Times

...the sensational Susan Bickley in Walküre, the most terrifying dominatrix I have come across in many years. She is also Waltraute in Götterdämmerung, reason by itself to hear that performance. I’m not sure that she is celebrated as one of the greatest singers of our time; she unquestionably is that.


Intermusica represents Susan Bickley worldwide

Julia Maynard
Director / Head of Vocal & Opera
+44 20 7608 9902

Isla Mundell-Perkins
Associate Manager, Vocal & Opera
+44 20 7608 9915

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Piano accompanist

Roger Vignoles