Born in County Durham, mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly studied piano and singing at the Royal College of Music, of which she is now a Fellow. She was made CBE in the 2010 New Year’s Honours List. In 2011 she was honoured by the Incorporated Society of Musicians and presented with the Distinguished Musician Award she is the recipient of the the Royal Philharmonic Society’s 2012 Singer Award.
Highlights in her 2015/16 season include Fricka Das Rheingold & Die Walküre (Bayreuther Festspiele), Brangäne Tristan und Isolde (Festspielhaus Baden-Baden and in concert with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Rattle), the title role in Ariodante (Netherlands Opera), Wood Dove Gurre-Lieder (Paris Opera) and Jocaste in Enescu's Œdipe (Covent Garden).
Past highlights have included Fricka and Brangäne (Covent Garden); Komponist Ariadne auf Naxos and Clairon Capriccio (Metropolitan Opera); the title role in Giulio Cesare and Brangäne (Glyndebourne Festival); the title role in Ariodante and Sesto La clemenza di Tito (Festival d’Aix-en-Provence); Purcell’s Dido (La Scala & Covent Garden); Gluck’s Orfeo and the title role in The Rape of Lucretia (Bayerische Staatsoper); Phèdre Hippolyte et Aricie (Paris Opera) and the title role in Agrippina and Nerone L’Incoronazione di Poppea (Gran Teatro del Liceu).
She has also sung the title role in Maria Stuarda and Romeo I Capuleti e i Montecchi (Opera North); Komponist (Welsh National Opera) and Octavian (Scottish Opera). A favourite at the English National Opera, her many roles for the company have included Octavian; the title roles in Charpentier’s Medée and Handel's Agrippina, Xerxes, Ariodante and Ruggiero Alcina; the title role in The Rape of Lucretia, Didon Les Troyens; Roméo, Susie The Silver Tassie and Sesto La clemenza di Tito - for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera.
The future sees her return to the Metropolitan Opera, to Covent Garden, the English National Opera, the GranTeatro del Liceu and to the Glyndebourne Festival, and make her debut at the Vienna State Opera.
She has appeared in recital in London, New York, Boston, Paris, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Stuttgart and at the Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, and Edinburgh Festivals and her many concert engagements include appearances at the Lucerne, Salzburg, Tanglewood and Three Choirs Festivals and at the BBC Proms where, in 2009, she was a memorable guest soloist at The Last Night.
Other notable engagements have included The Dream of Gerontius (Boston Symphony Orchestra/Sir Colin Davis & Mozarteumorchester Salzburg/Bolton); A Child of our Time (Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Rattle); Mahler’s Symphony no. 2 (Leipzig Gewandhausorchester/Chailly, Boston Symphony Orchestra/von Dohnanyi & Philadelphia Orchestra/Nézet-Séguin); Das Lied von der Erde (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Harding, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra/Nézet-Séguin & LPO/Jurowski); Des Knaben Wunderhorn (L’Orchestre des Champs-Elysées/Herreweghe); La mort de Cléopâtre (Hallé/Elder, CBSO/Gardner & BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis),) and the Kindertotenlieder (LPO/Jurowski).
Committed to promoting new music, her world premiere performances include Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Twice through the Heart (Schoenberg Ensemble/Knussen); Jonathan Harvey’s Songs of Li Po at the Aldeburgh Festival and Sir John Tavener’s Tribute to Cavafy at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham and his Gnosis at the BBC Proms (BBC Symphony Orchestra/Bělohlávek).
A prolific recording artist, her many discs include Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (OAE); Des Knaben Wunderhorn (L’Orchestre des Champs-Élysées/Herreweghe - winner of an Edison Award); Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde (LPO/Jurowski), Elgar’s Sea Pictures and The Dream of Gerontius (BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis); Britten's Phaedra (BBC Symphony Orchestra/Gardner) and Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor and Haydn’s Scena di Berenice (Gabrieli Consort/McCreesh). Her roles on DVD include Giulio Cesare, Nerone, Clairon and Purcell’s Dido. Her recording of Handel arias with The Sixteen and Harry Christophers was described as ‘the definition of captivating’ and her three solo recital discs The Exquisite Hour, Songs of Love and Loss and My true love hath my heart have all won universal critical acclaim. She has recorded the soundtrack, Fragments of a Prayer by Sir John Tavener, for the feature film Children of Men.