Internationally acclaimed as a concert artist, Susan Platts made her mainstage opera debut in the role of Florence Pike in Pacific Opera Victoria's co-production with Vancouver Opera of Benjamin Britten's Albert Herring – she played the role in both the Victoria (February 2013) and Vancouver (November 2013) performances. Ms. Platts returns to POV in October 2014 for the role of Erda in Wagner's Das Rheingold.
Ms. Platts' 2013-14 season also included performances of Elgarís Sea Pictures with the Louisville Orchestra, Mahlerís Rückertlieder with the Chicago Philharmonic, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Calgary Philharmonic and Vancouver Symphony, Elijah with the Harrisburg Symphony, and Mahler Symphonies with the Acadiana Symphony, Evansville Philharmonic, North Carolina Symphony, and Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
Susan Platts was born in the UK and grew up in Victoria, BC. Her teachers included Alexandra Browning, Catherine Robbin, and Christa Ludwig. She brings a uniquely rich and wide-ranging voice to the concert and recital repertoire for alto and mezzo-soprano and is particularly acclaimed for her performances of Gustav Mahler's works.
In May of 2004, as part of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, world-renowned soprano Jessye Norman chose Ms. Platts from 26 candidates world-wide to be her protégée. Since then, Susan has had the honor of mentoring with Ms. Norman. With the generous support of Rolex, Susan recently commissioned a new work for mezzo-soprano and orchestra from renowned Canadian composer Marjan Mozetich. Under the Watchful Sky comprises three songs that use ancient Chinese texts from Shi Jing (The Book of Songs) which explore the universal passions and tribulations of humankind.
In 2012 Susan made her BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall in London, performing the Third Secretary to Chairman Mao in a concert performance of Nixon in China with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers and conductor John Adams. The performance was repeated at Musikfest Berlin.
During past seasons, Ms Platts has performed at Teatro alla Scala, Teatro di San Carlo, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center as well as with the Philadelphia Orchestra, CBC Radio Orchestra, L'Orchestre de Paris, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Les Violons du Roy, American Symphony Orchestra, Oregon Bach Festival, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Detroit Symphony.
She has collaborated with many conductors including Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Roberto Abbado, Sir Andrew Davis, Christoph Eschenbach, Keith Lockhart, Jane Glover, Jeffery Kahane, Kent Nagano, Peter Oundjian, Itzhak Perlman, Helmuth Rilling, Bramwell Tovey, Osmo Všnska, and Pinchas Zuckerman.
Ms Platts has appeared on many distinguished art song series including the Vocal Arts Society at the Kennedy Center, the Ladies' Morning Musical Club in Montreal, the "Art of the Song" Series at Lincoln Center and the Frick Museum Series in New York.
Her engagements include Mahler's Third Symphony with Christoph Eschenbach and the Orchestre de Paris; Mahler's Kindertotenlieder with Hans Graf and the Houston Symphony; Argento's Casa Guidi with Osmo Vanska and the Minnesota Orchestra; the title role of Gluck's Orfeo in concert, Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, Elgar's Sea Pictures and Mahler's Eighth Symphony with Yoav Talmi and the Quebec Symphony; Mahler's Eighth Symphony and concert performances of Dido in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas with Bramwell Tovey and the Vancouver Symphony; Mahler's Eighth and Second Symphonies with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestre Métropolitain; Mahler's Second and Third Symphonies and Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with Peter Oundjian and the Toronto Symphony; Mahler's Second Symphony with Jahja Ling and the San Diego Symphony and Carl St. Clair and the Pacific Symphony; Das Lied von der Erde and Ravel's Shéhérazade with the Louisville Orchestra under Uri Segal and Jorge Mester, respectively; the Mozart Requiem with Hans Graf and the Detroit Symphony and Michael Christie and the Phoenix Symphony; and Mahler's Eighth, Second and Third Symphonies, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Bellini's La Sonnambula and Bach's B Minor Mass and Weihnachtsoratorium with Kent Nagano and the Montreal Symphony.
Other orchestral appearances include Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony and Marek Janowski and the Boston Symphony (both Beethoven #9), Chicago's Grant Park Music Festival (Szymanowski's Stabat Mater) and the farewell concerts of Andreas Delfs as Music Director of the Milwaukee Symphony (Mahler #8). She has twice appeared with the Malaysian Philharmonic, sang Elijah with the Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Moest and David Loebel and the Memphis Symphony; Elgar's Dream of Gerontius with Grant Llewellyn and the North Carolina Symphony; the Verdi Requiem with Pinchas Zukerman and the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Bruno Ferrandis and the Santa Rosa Symphony and Chris Wilkins and the Orlando Philharmonic; Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Missa solemnis with the Colorado Symphony; and Mahler #2 with Benjamin Zander and the Boston Philharmonic in New York's Carnegie Hall and Boston's Symphony Hall.
She has recorded Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde for Fontec Records with Gary Bertini conducting the Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra, a CD of dramatic sacred art songs with pianist Dalton Baldwin, Gustav Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with the Smithsonian Chamber Players and Santa Fe Pro Musica for Dorian Records and Brahms' Zwei Gesänge with Steven Dann and Lambert Orkis on the ATMA label. Ms Platts recently recorded her first solo disc of Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms, also on the ATMA label.
Now This Is Singing ... Susan Platts ... shapes a song with crystalline simplicity and ease. Her voice is startlingly attractive from top to bottom, with a sure and strong upper register descending like honey to the yeasty depths of a contralto. A voice like this – there are not many – is such a pleasure to hear ... radiantly persuasive...
With a plush but elemental sound that's hauntingly reminiscent of Kathleen Ferrier, Platts inhabits each of these German art songs as if it's a world of its own, operatic in scope, every phrase bristling with life.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Then came the Mahler interlude – the four Songs of a Wayfarer with the Canadian mezzo-soprano Susan Platts as the soloist – and the evening began to transform itself ... Canadian mezzos of the passing generation, from Maureen Forrester, to the late Patricia Rideout, to the retired Catherine Robbin, have demonstrated powerful affinities for Mahler's luscious and mordant songs and each has reconciled those songs' polarities with memorable, highly individual insights. On the evidence of Saturday's performance Platts has taken the torch from those wonderful artists. She certainly held it high ... Here was pathos in beauty in a nutshell.
The Globe and Mail
Below: Susan Platts is Florence Pike in her mainstage opera debut in Pacific Opera Victoria's February 2013 production of Britten's Albert Herring.
As the Billows's majordomo, Florence Pike's bitter complaint (beautifully sung by Susan Platt) about the impossibility of working for Lady Billows and meeting her many demands ("One lifetime / One brain / One pair of hands / Are all too few /For Lady B.!") is both funny and heart-rending in the same moment.
British Theatre Guide
Below: Susan Platts and Jessye Norman discuss their work together through the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, and Susan performs excerpts from her commission of Marjan Mozetich's Under the Watchful Sky.