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mezzo
soprano

 

 

"exquisite poignancy"
Opera News

"a gorgeous, deep, dark mezzo-soprano”
New York Times

"grand, expansive voice ... like a rich Columbian coffee blend"
Huffington Post

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WATCH AND LISTEN

Alto Rhapsody
Johannes Brahms 

Rückert Lieder
Gustav Mahler

Somewhere
West Side Story, Leonard Bernstein

Liber scriptus
Requiem, G. Verdi

Lachrymosa dies illa
Requiem, G. Verdi

Lux aeterna
Requiem, G. Verdi

Songs of Lili Boulanger 

BIOGRAPHY

 

Sara Murphy, “a gorgeous, deep, dark mezzo-soprano” (New York Times), is a vocal artist who has been called “absolutely unforgettable for her versatility and ability to conquer any sensitive soul” (El Nacional, Dominican Republic).

Sara’s current season includes Mahler’s 8th Symphony and Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall, where she is a frequent soloist, and a debut with the RAI Orchestra as Mary in Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer conducted by James Conlon.

Sara recently made her European debut at Opera Theater of Rome as Ulrica in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera under the baton of Jesús López-Cobos. Opera News named the release of Hindemith’s The Long Christmas Dinner in which Sara portrays Mother Bayard and Ermengarde one of the “Top Ten Opera Recordings of 2015.” 

Past season highlights include several engagements with the Cincinnati Symphony at the May Festival, conducted by James Conlon: Verdi’s Otello, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Mahler Symphony No. 8, Beethoven Symphony No. 9 and Tchaikovsky’s Ode to Joy. With the American Symphony Orchestra and conductor Leon Botstein she has performed Elgar’s The Apostles, Ligeti Requiem, Schnittke’s Nagasaki and Hindemith’s The Long Christmas Dinner. Her portrayal of Britten’s Phaedra, Barber’s Dover Beach and High Priestess (Aida) at Ravinia with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Conlon won acclaim from the Chicago Tribune: “a rich, voluminous mezzo voice, excellent diction and an acute feeling for words and music.” She enjoys frequent performances of Verdi Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Mahler Symphony No. 8, Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder, Mahler’s Rückert Lieder and Elgar’s Sea Pictures and Dream of Gerontius.

Sara holds degrees from Oberlin College and Catholic University. She is a first-prize winner of the Oratorio Society of New York Solo Vocal Competition, and a grant recipient of Inter-Cities Performing Arts and the Wagner Society of New York.


COMPETITIONS, AWARDS AND GRANTS

2013 - First Prize, Oratorio Society of New York Solo Competition

2013 - Grant Recipient, Inter-Cities Performing Arts, Inc.

2010 - Grant Recipient, The Wagner Society of New York

2010 - Finalist, Joy in Singing Competition

2010 - Honorable Mention, George London Foundation Competition
 

EDUCATION

MM • Catholic University • Voice Performance

BA •  Oberlin College • Music Performance

 

ALBUMS

The Long Christmas Dinner

"Mezzo Sara Murphy plays both Mother Bayard, who has a nostalgic reverie in the first scene, and cousin Ermengarde, who is left alone at the end to sing a final meditation, which Murphy renders with exquisite poignancy."

Opera News, December 2015


"Sara Murphy’s closing aria as Ermengarde here is marvellously poignant."

Gramophone, November 2015


"Among the highlights of the Bridge recording is Mother Bayard’s quiet, complacent ariosa in the first scene, sung beautifully by Sara Murphy, a dramatic mezzo-soprano who also played the role of Cousin Ermengarde. Making a clear vocal delineation between the two characters, Murphy brought the performance to an affecting end with the spoken final line. In response to “They’re building a new house,” a line from a letter she reads, Ermengarde speaks two words after the orchestral accompaniment has faded away: 'Fancy that!'"

The Thorton Wilder Society, October 2015

 

"Sara Murphy as Ermengarde, who ends the opera imagining the family continuing without her, [is] a bit special."

The Guardian, September 2015

 

Newly released recording of The Long Christmas Dinner makes the top of Arts Beat's playlist in the New York Times.

New York Times, July 2015

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This recording marks a major event in American music: the premiere recording of the original English language version of Paul Hindemith's final opera, “The Long Christmas Dinner” (1960/61) on a libretto by Thornton Wilder. Conductor Leon Botstein writes: “One aspect that Thornton Wilder and Paul Hindemith shared was their mastery of the short form in their respective fields: the single-act work. Nowhere is Wilder’s skill in this dramatic form so ambitiously and thrillingly demonstrated than in “The Long Christmas Dinner”, which transforms the concept of duration by compressing 90 years into under an hour, and thereby exposes fundamental issues of life and its rebirths. Hindemith, too, loved the form, and used it to invoke sudden spikes of emotion, whether it be horror, laughter, or astonishment. That these two great artists collaborated on a form that they both dominated and reinvigorated is a rare and happy historical convergence.” This CD release includes complete librettos in English and German, and extensive background notes by Hindemith scholar Joel Haney, conductor Leon Botstein, and Tappan Wilder, nephew and literary executor of Thornton Wilder.

ACCLAIM

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"great depth of feeling and luxuriant tone"

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"a gorgeous, deep dark mezzo-soprano"

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"a rich, voluminous mezzo voice, excellent diction and an acute feeling for words and music"

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"her grand, expansive voice was like a rich Columbian coffee blend"


The Apostles

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 Mary Magdalene  
American Symphony Orchestra
 Leon Botstein, conductor
May 12, 2017  Carnegie Hall


Mary Magdalene’s sorrowful “Woe is me! For I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits” was sung with great depth of feeling and luxuriant tone by mezzo-soprano Sara Murphy. One of the evening’s high points was her intense performance of “They worship Him who stilleth the raging of the seas,” with its urgent repetitions of “Thy face, Lord, will I seek.”

OPERA NEWS, online exclusive August 2017
 

“Jesus appears at decisive moments ... But the real leads are his two tormented followers: Mary Magdalene and Judas. During an intense scene, Mary (the rich-voiced mezzo-soprano Sara Murphy) expresses abject shame over her sinful past and desperate longing for forgiveness.

NEW YORK TIMES, May 14, 2017
 

"The mezzo-soprano Sara Murphy was a superbly sung Mary Magdalene and Narrator in Part 2. Hers is a large, booming voice with strong alto-ish bottom and an easy top."

OBERON'S GROVE, May 2017
 

“The soloists all sang at a high level. There was no weak member of the group. Two of them deserve special praise, however: Sara Murphy, who sang Mary Magdalene in a melodically controlled, but deeply emotional manner and Alfred Walker as Judas, using the rich and varied colors of his bass-baritone voice to combine expressive phrasing with eloquent feeling. It was those two sinners who fascinated Elgar the most, and casting, singing, and direction rendered it most eloquently.

NEW YORK ARTS, June 18, 2017


Un Ballo in Maschera

Ulrica
Teatro dell'opera di Roma
Jesús López-Cobos, conductor
 October 2016 Rome, IT

"La breve ma intensa parte dell’indovina Arvidson è stata affidata a Sara Murphy voce piuttosto potente molto adatta alla peculiarità della parte."

The brief but intense part of the medium Arvidson (Ulrica) was entrusted to Sara Murphy with a rather powerful voice that was very suitable for the particularities of the role.

LA VOCE D'ITALIA October 28, 2016


Elijah

Mendelssohn Elijah
Cincinnati May Festival
James Conlon, conductor

"Sara Murphy impressed in each of her appearances, from her deeply felt 'Woe unto them who forsake Him' to her powerful Jezebel, the biblical queen who drives Elijah into the wilderness. As the angel, her message to Elijah 'O rest in the Lord,' was heartfelt and comforting."

CINCINNATI ENQUIRER October 28, 2016


Wearing All the Hats

Classical Singer profiled Sara Murphy in September 2015 in "Wearing All the Hats: Singers as Administrators."  (Click on the orange link to read the entire article.)

Murphy challenges the view that "day job" and performing are in opposition to each other. She sees more and more singers moving away from viewing the two things as opposites, as either/or. "I view it as a happy 'and' in my life."

CLASSICAL SINGER September 2015


Ligeti Requiem and Schnittke Nagasaki

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Requiem, Gyorgy Ligeti
Nagasaki, Alfred Schnittke
American Symphony Orchestra
Leon Botstein, conductor

"A high point in the concert came in a finely-crafted 'aria' which Schnittke assigns to a solo mezzo-soprano voice. Tonight Sara Murphy expanded on the excellent impression she had made in the Ligeti: her voice has depth and warmth; it's even and glowing throughout the range, and fills the hall effortlessly. Her singing has a rich emotional resonance which derives from the sound itself, free of theatrical embellishments. This was some of the most soul-pleasing vocalism I have heard in the past decade. She was enthusiastically cheered as she took her bows."

OBERON'S GROVE December 2014
 

"The mezzo-soprano Sara Murphy sang with poise and emotive force in the ominous third movement."

NEW YORK TIMES December 17, 2014
 

Equally brilliant–without any reservations whatsoever—were Mezzo-soprano Sara Murphy and Soprano Jennifer Zetlan. Their challenge was to make the huge octave-and-a-half leaps, to sing in minor-seconds with each other (perhaps even microtones!), to keep not only perfect pitch but to allow each note to have its own change colors and vibratos.

CONCERTONET December 2014


Messiah

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Handel Messiah
Oratorio Society of New York
Kent Tritle, conductor

"Sara Murphy ... another force to be reckoned with ... Her grand, expansive voice, was like a rich Columbian coffee blendsmoothbut bracing, as she used her superb diction to enunciate the sorrows of "He Was Despised."

HUFFINGTON POST December 23, 2014


The Long Christmas Dinner

Mother Bayard, Cousin Ermengarde
Paul Hindemith, The Long Christmas Dinner
American Symphony Orchestra
Leon Botstein, conductor

"Sara Murphy was an earthy, motherly presence as Mother Bayard and Cousin Ermengarde."

OPERA NEWS March 2015

"The rich-voiced mezzo-soprano Sara Murphy was especially endearing as Mother Bayard and, later, Cousin Ermengarde."

NEW YORK TIMES December 22, 2014


The Dream of Gerontius

The Angel
Edward Elgar, The Dream of Gerontius
Berkshire Choral Festival
Kent Tritle, conductor

"Ms. Murphy has a glorious voice that easily encompassed the wide-ranging role from below the passaggio to above the staff. She is a truly fine singer.”

ALBERTITALKS.COM August 4, 2014


Rachmaninoff Vespers

Sacred Music in a Sacred Space
K. Scott Warren, conductor

"... a gorgeous, deep, dark mezzo-soprano... ”

NEW YORK TIMES October 20, 2013


Verdi Requiem

Verdi Requiem
New York Symphonic Arts Ensemble
Marina Alexander, conductor

"...[B]oy howdy, mezzo Sara Murphy is worthy of my most enthusiastic raves. Her Lux aeterna was lyrical and full of drama at the same time. Her Liber scriptus has set a new standard by which I shall judge all other performances of Liber scriptus. Her performance was sensitive musically and completely on the mark vocally, her sound always beautiful and free. Why is this lovely woman not singing everywhere? I would compare her to Amnerises and Adalgisas with world-class careers today, and she'd win."

TAMINOPHILE.COM October 20, 2013


Phaedra and Dover Beach

Britten Phaedra, Barber Dover Beach
Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Ravinia
James Conlon, conductor

“… Sara Murphy brought a rich, voluminous mezzo voice, excellent diction and an acute feeling for words and music to the anguished heart of the piece.”

CHICAGO TRIBUNE July 26, 2013
 

Murphy is skirting the perimeter of a big musical career, prepping in churches and chorale music and starting to work in Wagner and Verdi operas. She has a glorious, full voice and fills a hall without effort, but with great beauty. Surely a mezzo to be heard. Around the hall, when she finished, everyone was whispering, “Where has she been?”

BERKSHIRE FINE ARTS July 27, 2013
 


Benefit Concert with tenor Francisco Casanova
Teatro Nacional, Santo Domingo
República Dominicana

[The] American Sara Murphy [was] absolutely unforgettable for her versatility and ability to conquer any sensitive soul."

EL NACIONAL February 21, 2012

REPERTOIRE

 

Opera

Giuseppe Verdi
Azucena  Il Trovatore
Ulrica  Un Ballo in Maschera
Amneris, High Priestess  Aida
Emilia  Otello

Richard Wagner
Mary  Der fliegende Holländer
Erda  Das Rheingold, Siegfried
Fricka  Die Walküre, Das Rheingold
First Norn  Götterdämmerung

Francis Poulenc
Mère Marie, Madame de Croissy  
     Les Dialogues des Carmelites

Giacomo Puccini
Zia Principessa  Suor Angelica

Richard Strauss
Klytaemnestra   Elektra

Paul Hindemith
Mother Bayard, Cousin Ermengarde
    The Long Christmas Dinner

Gisle Kverndokk
The Wife  Upon this Handful of Earth
     world premiere

Orchestral

Johannes Brahms
Alto Rhapsody

Benjamin Britten
Phaedra

Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 9
Choral Fantasy

Edward Elgar
Sea Pictures

Gustav Mahler
Rückert-Lieder
Symphony No. 2
Symphony No. 3
Symphony No. 8, Alto 1 and 2

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Ode to Joy  

Richard Wagner
Wesendonck Lieder

  

 

 

Oratorio

J.S. Bach
Magnificat
Mass in B Minor
St. John Passion
St. Matthew Passion

Ludwig van Beethoven
Mass in C Major
Missa Solemnis

Maurice Duruflé  
Requiem

Antonín Dvořák 
Stabat Mater
Requiem

Edward Elgar
Dream of Gerontius
The Apostles

G.F. Handel
Messiah

György Ligeti 
Requiem

Felix Mendelssohn
Elijah
St. Paul

W.A. Mozart
Requiem
Solemn Vespers de Confessore

Sergei Rachmaninoff 
All Night Vigil, Mvt. 2 

Giacomo Rossini
Petite Messe Solennele
Stabat Mater

Alfred Schnittke 
Nagasaki

Karol Szymanowski
Stabat Mater

Giuseppe Verdi  
Requiem