British-born Canadian mezzo-soprano Susan Platts brings a rich, distinctive and soulful voice to an nearly all-inclusive range of concert, opera and recital repertoire for alto and mezzo-soprano. She has performed Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Argento’s Casa guidi, Beethoven’s Missa solemnis and Ninth Symphony, Händel’s Messiah, Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette and Les nuits d’été, Bach’s St. Matthew and St. John Passions, Magnificat, Weihnachtsoratorium and B Minor Mass, the Verdi Requiem, Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky, Elgar’s Sea Pictures and The Dream of Gerontius, Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody, and Chausson’s Poème de l’amour et de la mer. She is most renowned for her Mahler interpretations, her recordings including both the full (Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra/Gary Bertini/Fontec label) and chamber (Virginia Arts Festival/Jo Ann Falletta/Naxos label) versions of Das Lied von der Erde; as well as Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with the Smithsonian Chamber Players and Santa Fe Pro Musica on the Dorian label. Performances of the composer’s works include the Second Symphony (“Resurrection”) with the San Diego, Baltimore, Toronto, Vancouver, Santa Barbara, Victoria, Québec, Winnipeg, Montreal, Charlotte, Akron, Austin, Jacksonville, Pacific, American, Acadiana, Lafayette, Baton Rouge Symphonies; Boston, Colorado Springs, Rhode Island, Dayton, New Mexico, Calgary and Krakow Philharmonics; Orchestre Métropolitain, Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, Oregon Bach and Elora Festivals and Germany’s Staatskapelle Halle; Third Symphony with the Orchestre de Paris; Vancouver, Montreal, North Carolina, Pensacola, Oregon Symphonies; Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and at the Brevard Music Center; Eighth Symphony with the Québec, Montreal, American, Vancouver, Milwaukee Symphonies; Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Calgary Philharmonic; Das Lied von der Erde with the Malaysian Philharmonic and National Ballet of Canada; Toronto, Winnipeg and North Carolina Symphonies; Louisville Orchestra, Orchestra Now (Bard College) and at the Chautauqua Festival; Kindertotenlieder with the Houston, Amarillo and Québec Symphonies; Rückertlieder with the Chicago Philharmonic and Montreal Symphony, and Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with the Kitchener-Waterloo and Montreal Symphonies.
Increasingly active in opera, Ms. Platts has sung Erda in Wagner’s Das Rheingold and Hippolyta in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Pacific Opera Victoria, Florence Pike in Britten’s Albert Herring at the Vancouver Opera and Pacific Opera Victoria; Teresa in Bellini’s La Sonnambula and Susie in Bernstein’s A Quiet Place with Kent Nagano and the Montreal Symphony, and the title roles of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice with Yoav Talmi and the Québec Symphony and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with Bramwell Tovey and the Vancouver Symphony. She made her Berlin and London debuts in John Adams’ Nixon in China with the B.B.C. Symphony, returns to London in future seasons for her recital and Royal Opera House, Covent Garden debuts.
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 continues to mentor her. With the generous support of Rolex, Ms. Platts commissioned a work for mezzo-soprano and orchestra from celebrated Canadian composer Marjan Mozetich entitled Under the Watchful Sky, comprised of 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, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Detroit, Seattle, Harrisburg, Boston and Milwaukee Symphonies, Les Violons du Roy, Boston's Händel and Haydn Society, the Los Angeles and St. Paul Chamber Orchestras. She has collaborated with many preeminent 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, Ludovic Morlot, Kent Nagano, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Sir Roger Norrington, Peter Oundjian, Itzhak Perlman , Osmo Vänska and Pinchas Zuckerman. Especially well-versed in art song, Ms Platts has appeared on many distinguished series including twice 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. Her first solo disc, of songs by Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms on the ATMA label earned considerable critical acclaim.
In addition to the operatic roles of Purcell’s Gluck’s Orfeo, Purcell’s Dido, Händel’s Cornelia, Strauss’ Octavian, and Bellini’s Teresa (La Sonnambula), Ms. Platts’concert repertoire includes nearly the entire range of alto and mezzo-soprano literature, a partial listing below:
As Erda (2014) in Pacific Opera Victoria's Das Rheingold
CRITIC'S CHOICE! OPERA NEWS ONLINE APRIL 2017
MAHLER/SCHOENBERG: Das Lied von der Erde
[Platts; Reid, R. Williams; Attacca Quartet, Virginia Arts Festival Chamber Players, Falletta; Naxos CD 8.573536]
"Canadian mezzo Susan Platts has few rivals in her generation as a satisfying interpreter of Mahler; Scotland’s Karen Cargill is the only coeval who comes to mind that shares Platts’s timbral and temperamental affinity to the Bohemian-born composer’s particular sound world. Platts has essayed Erda and some Britten roles onstage, as well as Dido and Orfeo in concert readings, but she has won renown as an orchestral soloist and recitalist. Platts recorded Das Lied for Fontec with the Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra and tenor Jorma Silvasti under Gary Bertini. Her voice here is even and possessed of a handsome sheen; her musicianship is impeccable."
Mahler's Third Symphony  with Peter Rubardt and the Pensacola Symphony:
"...Mahler gave ripe moments for particular instruments to shine. First among these is the alto soloist in movement four. Susan Platts was simply spectacular, both in range and in control."
-The Pensacola News-Journal
Verdi Requiem with JoAnn Falletta and the Virginia Symphony:
"There aren’t enough synonyms for excellence in the thesaurus to adequately describe the performance of the Verdi Messa da Requiem (Requiem Mass), presented March 18  by the Virginia Symphony conducted by JoAnn Falletta, with the Symphony Orchestra Chorus and a quartet of superb soloists. Powerful and breathtaking are the only words that even come close.
I haven’t heard a mezzo like Susan Platts since I last heard Frederica von Stade. Not that Platts sounds like von Stade—no, Platts sounds like
herself, but that sound is extraordinary: pure, rich, beautiful, soaring, with a riveting simplicity of communication."
"Charles Reid displayed a clarion and clear tenor that soared throughout his range, his extended Ingemisco, in which he prays to God for mercy
and forgiveness, truly impressive. Kevin Deas offered a rewardingly dark and rich bass-baritone that added poignancy to his solo moments.
Susan Platts, likewise, provided a rich, open and fully formed mezzo-soprano that was dramatically and artistically superb throughout."
-The Virginia Gazette
New Naxos recording of the chamber version of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with JoAnn Falletta and the Virginia Arts Festival:
"Susan Platts is a very different matter. I don’t believe I’ve heard her before but I was impressed...Miss Platts reminded me why I so strongly
prefer a mezzo in this work. There’s appealing warmth to her tone and I liked the expression she brings to the music...Her first song, Der
Einsame im Herbst, works quite well in the chamber version – I like the fragility of the instrumental opening, for instance. Miss Platts is very
expressive in the passage beginning Mein Herz ist müde...The opening of Der Abschied is successful...Susan Platts sings her first phrases
eloquently: this augurs well. She maintains this high standard throughout and her delivery of this long, complex song is a conspicuous
success – sample, for instance, the withdrawn way she sings Es wehet kühle...When Susan Platts resumes singing she brings exemplary
control and a sense of suspense to the music. Starting at Ich wandle nach she builds the intensity most impressively so that, vocally at least,
Du liebe Erde is a great outpouring...I would dearly love, though, to hear Susan Platts in Mahler’s original and incomparable scoring one day."
“Contralto Susan Platts sings with hieratic dignity throughout, and does exquisite things at Die müden Menschen geh’n heimwerts in the Abschied.”
-Gramophone, January 2017
Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with the Orchestra Now at Bard, (NY), February 2016:
"The second half of the program traveled into the late Orientalist fad popularized by French writers and later Ezra Pound in London, yet Mahler actually brought out his work in 1909, several years before Pound’s Cathay (1915). Das Lied von der Erde ("The Song of the Earth") offered a
version of early Chinese poetry as German lieder.
Tenor Charles Reid ably performed that youthful male perspective of wanting to drink poetry from a bottle but found himself helplessly mired in
juvenile ambition, while mezzo-soprano Susan Platts expressed not only her Romantic loneliness but the poetic wisdom and achievement of the
more advanced feminine sensibility that Mahler admired in his wife, Alma Schindler.
The Orchestra Now responded to the singers with lusty energy and the brass, in particular, excelled. Mahler’s music with its artful allusions to
gongs and flowing water transcends the genre of tourist landscape. Despite the single degree temperature walk on the coldest day of the year to
the seemingly distant parking lots, the contented audience chatted with abandon."
Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, Virginia Arts Festival and Naxos recording:
"Mezzo-soprano Susan Platts created the passage of time, kinetically, in The Lonely One in Autumn. Focused on nature, all of the texts are based
on German translations of 8th and 9th-century Chinese poems. The weary feeling in the text was in Ms. Platts’ voice. Loneliness has come after
the sun of love has set and the poetry ends with bitter tears...In Of Beauty Ms. Platts offered an image of young girls picking lotus flowers on the
river bank on a bright, sunlit day, the breeze rich with the fragrance and the boys on horseback dashing heedless over the flowers and grass.
The fairest of the girls cast a yearning glance toward the boldest of the boys. There is a glee for life in the voice...This was an evening to
remember. It has been several years since Virginia Arts Festival has so honored the art of solo classical song."
Season-closing Mahler #2 with Peter Oundjian and the Toronto Symphony:
"Mezzo-soprano Susan Platts and soprano Erin Wall added beautiful solos from an embedded position near the (alert as always) percussion.
Platts summoned Mahlerian warmth in the Urlicht movement, deeply felt..."
"****! Matched with mezzo-soprano Susan Platts, the two combined to create a smoldering pair and each gave the text a shade slightly darker than
the orchestra’s pallet. Platts' tone was particularly murky, generating a heightened sense of ferventness to the fourth movement (primordial, very solemnly, but simply)."
-The Toronto Star
"The most exciting moment of the TSO’s Mahler Second was actually one of the more quiet and contemplative ones: mezzo Susan Platts’ entrance with the Urlicht, the first vocal solo appearing mid-symphony. After the swirls and the busyness of the preceding music, the low-voice timbre with its discreet accompaniment is a welcome change of mood and even texture. For a time, the solo violin dances a cheerful dance around the vocal line,
but blends in with the orchestra as the text becomes more insistent—Ich bin von Gott und will wieder zu Gott...Platts' appealing colour (not to mention potency and a well controlled vibrato) is to return later in the piece, in a duo with the soprano."
"...the two soloists were fine indeed. Susan Platts’ hauntingly beautiful Urlicht was matched by Erin Wall’s ability to soar over chorus and orchestra apparently effortlessly. The duet was gorgeous; the darker tone of Platts blending with Wall’s brighter timbre in a most pleasing fashion. The Friday night crowd lapped it up and gave one of the longest and loudest ovations I have heard in the hall. And it was deserved."
Messiah with the North Carolina Symphony (2014):
"Alto Susan Platts has a very firm lower range that brought a welcome gravitas to her passages. There was a welcome darkening in But who may abide the day of his coming that combined with fleet agility for the fast paced For He is like a refiner's fire."
-Classical Voice North Carolina
First-ever Erda in Wagner's Das Rheingold at Pacific Opera Victoria:
"Susan Platts as Erda was revelatory, singing with gravity, authority and beauty."
-Vancouver Classical Music
Mahler #2 with Kent Nagano/Montreal Symphony, August 2014:
"...mezzo-soprano Susan Platts produced exactly the golden tone and transcendent mood required by the Urlicht ("Primal light") movement.
This was our cue to prepare for the apocalypse...Of course, the final apotheosis (with Platts and soprano Erin Wall aptly highlighting to the texture)
-The Gazette (Montreal)
"ASTONISHING MAHLER. Impeccable, also, the contributions of the Canadian singers Erin Wall and Susan Platts, who have a long track record with this piece not only with the Montreal Symphony but also the Métropolitain and Québec Symphony."
Mahler #3 with the North Carolina Symphony/Grant Llewellyn:
"The important solo vocal and choral portions came off beautifully with fine diction from all involved. Mezzo-soprano Susan Platts has a firm lower range that reminds me of that famous Mahler singer Maureen Forrester. Platts' rich tone and dark color was the icing for her Lieder-like, clear
delivery of the composer's text... This run of three concerts was not to be missed! It will be memorable across the decades and well worth
searching for if it is broadcast via public radio. Bravo to everyone involved!"
-Classical Voice North Carolina
Beethoven #9 with the Calgary Philharmonic:
"The final movement included a quartet of fine soloists...Susan Platts contributing an eloquent, poised account of the mezzo-soprano part."
-The Calgary Herald
"On Saturday evening, Music Director Alfred Savia led the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, with the Evansville Philharmonic Chorus, the
University of Southern Indiana Chamber Choir and Women's Choir, and soloists Martha Guth and Susan Platts in an overwhelming performance
of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2, the "Resurrection" Symphony. There are no perfect concerts, I suppose, but this would do until perfect
comes along. Bravo. Bravo, indeed, all around."
-The Courier and Press
Chicago Philharmonic debut:
"The highlight of the afternoon was the performance by Susan Platts of Mahler's Rückertlieder. This collection of five sparely orchestrated songs contains some of Mahler's finest and most affecting small-scale music. This music stands or falls on the quality of the vocalism and the Canadian mezzo-soprano's rich tones more than filled the bill. Her poetic interpretation and precise diction showed a deep understanding of the texts at all levels. She captured the playfulness of Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder and turned in a deeply satisflying performance of the masterwork of the
sequence Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen with its haunting English horn solos. ...it was a pleasure to hear the interaction of voice and instrument in this somber testament to Mahler's genius."
-Chicago Classical Review
Vancouver Opera debut as Florence Pike in Britten's Albert Herring:
"Singing, on the other hand, was almost without exception first rate. Among the cast of village types and worthies, soprano Sally Dibblee, (playing
Lady Bellows, an aristocratic tyrant) and Susan Platts (her servant and partner in crime Florence Pike) were hilarious; the velvet-voiced Platts
showed a real flair for comedy, a sort of operatic Joyce Grenfell.”
-The Vancouver Sun
Mahler's Eighth Symphony with the American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall:
"Among those soloists, a few stood above the fray...Susan Platts' strong contralto riveted the ear..."
Staged-opera debut, as Florence Pike in Britten's Albert Herring at Pacific Opera Victoria:
"Mezzo-soprano Susan Platts, another fine comedienne, provides superb support as Florence Pike, Milady's housekeeper and the town's moral accountant."
Florida Orchestra debut, Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, Stefan Sanderling conducting:
"Excellent soloists…Platts in particular was overwhelming, bringing a sense of passionate restraint, combined with tremendous warmth and
eloquence, to her songs on nature, loneliness and beauty, growing older and death. The 30-minute finale, Der Abschied (The Farewell), is the
pinnacle of the work, and she gave a mesmerizing reading of it, her dark richness of tone interspersed with bursts of vibrant color. There was
an elemental quality to her performance that was breathtaking as it emerged from the complex orchestral texture, complemented by fine solos
by Anna Stearns, playing principal oboe this weekend, and principal flute Clay Ellerbroek."
-The Tampa Bay-Times
Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with Grant Llewellyn and the North Carolina Symphony,:
"...a superb pair of soloists... Susan Platts was born in Britain and raised in Canada. While she lists herself as a mezzo-soprano, her very firmly supported lower range gives her a deeper, richer contralto quality. Her care for text was as great as (tenor Anthony Dean) Griffey's and her soul-searching delivery of the introspective 30-minute sixth Der Abschied ("Farewell") section was transfixing to the last fading Ewig ("Forever and ever)."
-Classical Voice North Carolina
Mahler #2 with the New Mexico Philharmonic:
"Without pause Susan Platts stepped into the intimate Urlicht (Primal Light) movement, with its brass chorale, singing a text from the collection of folk poetry Des Knaben Wunderhorn. Though listed as a mezzo, Platts' pure tone was richly contralto, illuminating the words with a golden sound that proved the highlight of the entire work. More of her, please!"
-The Albuquerque Journal
Mozart Requiem with the Vermont Symphony:
"The other vocalists were quite effective as well. Arias grew to duets and trios and quartets. Particularly in the Recordare and the Benedictus, brilliant but tender soprano Jonita Lattimore, the rich-sounding Deas, the also rich-sounding mezzo-soprano Susan Platts and the lyrically expressive tenor Richard Clement soloed and blended beautifully. Altogether it was a powerful and moving experience."
Mahler's Eighth Symphony with David Lockington and the Grand Rapids:
"First alto Susan Platts' gorgeous, rich voice was exemplary when she sang Mulier Samaritana..."
-The Grand Rapids Press
Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with the Victoria Symphony:
"Since the first time I heard Susan Platts sing Mahler, and on every subsequent occasion, I have wanted, nay yearned, to hear her singing Das Lied.
It is rare enough that the reality of a long-anticipated event meets one's expectations, but Platts's singing on Saturday exceeded mine (already high)
by a considerable margin. From the moment she started to sing I was spellbound. Clearly the music means a great deal to Platts, as it has to many
of the great mezzos of the last century. This was evident from the way she caressed every phrase, her magnificent voice completely at the service of the music, running the gamut of emotion...Platts was quite wonderful here."
Ravel Shéhérazade with the Louisville Orchestra:
"...La Flute enchanteé is a mesmerizing chant that requires the vocalist to weave in and out of flute melodies, and L'indifférent is a languid love
poem of ambiguous gender. Beautifully performed by mezzo-soprano Susan Platts, however, these three pieces haunt and captivate."
Mahler's Second Symphony with Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony:
"The ensuing Urlicht movement bathed the hall in a wonderful glow, thanks to the lush tone and poignant phrasing of mezzo Susan Platts."
-The Baltimore Sun
Mahler's Third Symphony with the Rhode Island Philharmonic:
"British-born Canadian mezzo Susan Platts did the honors in the nocturnal fourth movement, "What man tells me," set to lines from Nietzsche's poetic novel "Thus Spoke Zarathustra." This spacious movement seems to foreshadow Mahler's later "Song of the Earth" with its spare writing and lovely vocal lines. And Platts was stunning, getting a rich, burnished sound."
-The Providence Journal
Mahler's Second Symphony with Roberto Minczuk and the Calgary Philharmonic:
"The solo Urlicht movement featured some truly first-class singing by Susan Platts, whose rich voice is eminently suited to this music."
-The Calgary Herald
Mahler's Kindertotenlieder and the world premiere of Mozetich's Under the Watchful Sky with the Quebec Symphony:
"Informed by the sensitivity and intelligence of the interpreters, the audience was able to fearlessly penetrate the dark obscurity of the human soul. Featured in both the Mahler and Mozetich, mezzo-soprano Susan Platts was the embodiment of one who, subjected to destiny and fate, survives
it with courage and faith. In three parts the Mozetich cycle fully exploited the possibilities of the orchestra, punctuated with precision by Ms. Platts, getting to the heart of the matter with great artistry. In the Mahler she was intensely reflective, in the last song using chest tones to fully convey
the anger and helplessness of losing a child."
Mahler #2 with Jahja Ling and the San Diego Symphony:
"Susan Platts' creamy, room-filling mezzo made the fourth movement, Urlicht ("Primal Light") glow with breathtaking spiritual intensity, and Janice Chandler-Eteme's complementary, radiant soprano seemed to grow right out of Platts' voice, forming a gleaming concord that floated above the orchestra. Mahler singers of uncommon sensitivity in phrasing and articulation, each displayed formidable strength and a completely unforced technique."
"...a great interpretation of Mahler's Symphony No. 2...You could hear it in the ardent, expressive singing of mezzo-soprano Susan Platts..."
-Sign On San Diego
Mahler #2 with Yannick Nézét-Seguin and the Orchestre Métropolitan:
"...the brief Urlicht movement was beautifully sung by mezzo-soprano Susan Platts."
-The Toronto Globe and Mail
Mahler #2 with Peter Oundjian and the Toronto Symphony:
"Platts sang with dark and creamy tone in Urlicht...her capable voice carried over the orchestra and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir with good phrasing, intonation and clear diction."
-La Scena Musicale
Mozart Requiem with the Baltimore Symphony:
“The ripe and communicative singing of mezzo Susan Platts made the strongest impression among the soloists.”
-The Baltimore Sun
Mahler #8 with Bramwell Tovey and the Vancouver Symphony:
"Yet it was the wonderful Susan Platts who sang with the most impressive Mahler style and with moving depth and intensity."
-The Vancouver Sun
Debut Solo Album on the Atma label:
“Canadian mezzo-soprano Susan Platts is one of the very few classical singers who chooses to devote herself exclusively to recitals and concerts -
and there is none more accomplished. 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. Though always an artist of exceptional literacy with innate storytelling ability, she has studied in recent years with Jessye Norman. As a result, an artistic evolution that might have taken fifteen
years has happened in rather less time, this recording being the irrefutable evidence.”
-The Philadelphia Inquirer
Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer with Peter Oundjian and the Toronto Symphony:
"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 Toronto Globe and Mail
Recital at New York's Frick Collection:
"...she sang with a naturalness and lack of artifice reminiscent of Kathleen Ferrier's, and with a dark, richly toned voice that seemed at ease both in
its strong upper register and when plummeting to the depths of a contralto."
-The New York Times
Purcell's Dido and Aeneas with the Vancouver Symphony:
"Purcell lavishes the best of his material on his tragic heroine, and Susan Platts took Friday's performance to an entirely different level of artistry.
Platts' voice has a rich timbre coupled with an affecting with an affecting purity--a combination that immediately brings to mind several great British mezzos and altos of past generations. Her Dido exuded patrician dignity."
- The Vancouver Sun
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