Susan Graham: ‘My career was forged out of terror’

Susan Graham: ‘My career was forged out of terror’


norman lebrecht

May 31, 2017

The great American mezzo tells Zsolt Bognar: ‘I had to prove to myself and the world that I could climb this mountain… I couldn’t mess up … I had a terror of making mistakes and forgetting.’

She also talks combatively about the decline of US opera since 2008. ‘I just miss the heyday.’

Watch her candid new interview, exclusively on Slipped Disc.


  • Nick says:

    Fascinating! A reminder of how the music and opera worlds have changed in such an astonishingly short time. I could not agree more with her comment, “Opera is not supposed to be a close-up sport.”

  • Ungeheuer says:

    Funny that “terror of making mistakes” is what comes across for me in her singing. No spontaneity. No fire. Straitjacketed. No wonder opera in the US is in decline, having been reduced, essentially, to a Miss America pageant.

    • will says:


    • Bruce says:

      Well, if that’s what you get out of her singing, then that’s what you get out of her singing. Other people may get other things.

      • John Kelly says:

        She certainly wasn’t “straightjacketed” last night in the Knaben Wunderhorn songs (with Matthew Polenzani who seemed to enjoy her performance as much as the audience).

  • Jacob Rees Mogg says:

    Never heard of her, do they really have opera in America? Must tell Chuffy.

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    Climbing that mountain has also involved showing up to productions not knowing her part and getting the in-house staff to teach it to her free of charge. Ker-ching!

  • Marg says:

    I enjoy her singing and have loved her operas, but must say a lack of spontaneity seemed in evidence in a recital I attended last year. As for her rant about self promotion on social media – seems to do plenty of it herself on her FB page!!