Image by: Dario Acosta

The NZSO & Susan Graham Together For The First Time


Grammy Award-winning American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham will perform for the first time with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in Wellington and Auckland in March.

Hailed as “an artist to treasure” by The New York Times, Graham will sing French composer Hector Berlioz’s spellbinding La Mort de Cléopâtre (The Death of Cleopatra). The piece is performed in The Planets, the first of NZSO Music Director Edo de Waart’s 2019 Masterworks concert series.

The Planets, in association with the New Zealand Listener, features English composer Gustav Holst’s famous work, which inspired the composers of the Star Wars and Gladiator movies. The NZSO’s performance of Holst’s masterpiece will include the Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir.

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Edo de Waart by Jesse Willems

“Berlioz’s La Mort de Cléopâtre is a tour de force for a world-class mezzo-soprano,” says Maestro de Waart, who has previously worked with Graham. "Holst’s The Planets is also one of my favourite pieces in the canon of popular classics".

Over her 30-year career, Susan Graham has performed in the world’s great opera houses, including the Paris Opera, New York’s The Met, Milan’s La Scala and Covent Garden Royal Opera House.

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Susan Graham by Dario Acosta

Graham won a Grammy Award for her recording of songs by American composer Charles Ives and was lauded for her role in the acclaimed operatic adaptation of Dead Man Walking. She has sung with fellow opera star Renée Fleming in Der Rosenkavalier and joined Plácido Domingo in celebrations marking The Met’s 50th anniversary.

Graham’s passion for French vocal music has been recognised by the French government, which awarded her the prestigious Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. In 2009 she was nominated for two Grammys: Best Vocal Performance for Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique and Best Classical Vocal Performance for Un Frisson Franҫais.

The Planets includes the New Zealand premiere of an inventive work by British acoustic and electro-acoustic composer Anna Clyne. Clyne, based in the United States, has been praised for her collaborations with choreographers, artists, film-makers, leading orchestras, and musicians. The New York Times describes her as a “composer of uncommon gifts and unusual methods”, and by Time Out New York as “dazzlingly inventive”.

The NZSO will perform three movements from Clyne’s Abstractions, a work inspired by several artworks in the Baltimore Museum of Art. Maestro de Waart has previously conducted a Clyne work and is delighted that the NZSO will perform Abstractions. “It is wonderful, evocative music.”

Another of Clyne’s works, Prince of Clouds, was nominated for a Best Contemporary Classical Composition Grammy Award in 2015.


The Planets
in association with New Zealand Listener

EDO DE WAART Conductor
SUSAN GRAHAM Mezzo-soprano
ANNA CLYNE Abstractions: II, III, IV
BERLIOZ La Mort de Cléopâtre, Hob. 36
HOLST The Planets, Op. 32

AUCKLAND | Town Hall| Friday 29 March| 7.30pm
WELLINGTON | Michael Fowler Centre| Saturday 30 March| 7.30pm

Tickets available here at the NZSO

Written By: Radio13