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.
British-born Canadian mezzo-soprano Susan Platts, who grew up in Victoria, BC, brings a uniquely rich and wide-ranging voice to concert and recital repertoire for alto and mezzo-soprano. She is particularly esteemed 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 as her protégée from 26 international candidates, and has continued to mentor her ever since. With the generous support of Rolex, Ms. Platts recently commissioned a work for mezzo-soprano and orchestra from celebrated Canadian composer Marjan Mozetich: Under the Watchful Sky, comprising three songs using ancient Chinese texts from Shi Jing (The Book of Songs) that explore the universal passions and tribulations of humankind, was premiered by the Québec Symphony under Yoav Talmi in November 2010.
Ms. Platts has performed at Teatro alla Scala, Teatro di San Carlo, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center, as well as with the Philadelphia, CBC Radio, Cleveland and Minnesota Orchestras, Orchestre de Paris, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Montreal, Toronto, American, Detroit, Milwaukee, Baltimore and Houston Symphonies, Les Violons du Roy, Boston's Handel and Haydn Society, the Los Angeles and St. Paul Chamber Orchestras. She has collaborated with many conductors including Marin Alsop, Roberto Abbado, Leon Botstein, Sir Andrew Davis, Andreas Delfs, Christoph Eschenbach, Jane Glover, Eliahu Inbal, Jeffrey Kahane, Bernard Labadie, Keith Lockhart, Kent Nagano, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Sir Roger Norrington, Peter Oundjian, Itzhak Perlman, Bramwell Tovey, Osmo Vänska and Pinchas Zuckerman. Ms Platts has appeared on many distinguished art-song series including two appearances for both the Vocal Arts Society at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and Ladies Morning Musical Club in Montreal, the Aldeburgh Connection in Toronto, and both the Frick Collection and on Lincoln Center “Art of the Song” series in New York City.
Recent highlights include her London and Berlin debuts in John Adams' Nixon in China (BBC Symphony) and her staged-opera debut as Florence Pike in Albert Herring for Pacific Opera Victoria and Vancouver Opera. In addition she performed Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde and Third Symphony with Grant Llewellyn and the North Carolina Symphony and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony. 2013-14 engagements included Elgar's Sea Pictures with the Louisville Orchestra, Mahler's Rückertlieder with the Chicago Philharmonic, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Calgary Philharmonic and Vancouver Symphony, Mahler's Second Symphony with the Acadiana Symphony and Evansville Philharmonic, Elijah with the Harrisburg Symphony and Mahler's Eighth Symphony with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Peter Oundjian.
Ms. Platts has recorded 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. Her first solo disc of songs by Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms on the ATMA label enjoyed considerable critical acclaim.
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.