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

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.

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  • 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.”

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!!

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