The Canadian soprano, Donna Brown, studied piano, voice and composition in Ottawa and at McGill University in Montreal before moving to Paris to work with Noémie Perugia and Daniel Ferro. Scholarships took her to the Franz Schubert Institute in Bade bei Wien in Austria and the Herbert Von Karajan Foundation in Salzburg where she studied with Edith Mathis. Donna Brown made her debut in Paris as Micáela in Peter Brook's Tragedie De Carmen, a role she next sings for Opera Lyra in Ottawa.
The celebrated soprano, renowned for the floating, angelic quality of her voice, quickly became one of the leading sopranos in Europe. She has performed on many of the world's great opera and concert stages, including Paris, London, Tokyo, Geneva, Berlin, Toronto, Vancouver and Los Angeles and with many renowned conductors, among them Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Helmuth Rilling, Carlo Maria Guilini, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Kurt Mazur, Daniel Barenboim, Armin Jordan, Kent Nagano, Jeffrey Tate, Charles Dutoit, Semyon Bychkov, Mario Bernardi, Peter Maag and Trevor Pinnock. She has received critical acclaim for such roles as Pamina (DIE Zauberflöte), Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier), Almerina (Rinaldo), Gilda (Rigoletto), Nannetta (Falstaff), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Servilia (La Clemenza Di Tito) and Morgana (Alcina). Donna Brown also appeared as Chimne in the world premiere creation of Debussy's unfinished opera Rodrigue Et Chimne to celebrate the newly renovated Opera de Lyon.
In 1999-2000 Donna Brown appeared as Pamina in the Opéra Bastille production of Die Zauberflöte and was a featured performer at the installation of the Governor General of Canada in October 1999. She also performed the W.A. Mozart's Requiem with Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert at the London Proms, undertook a major tour of Israel with the Israel Camerata Orchestra Jerusalem and appeared in concerts with L’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Milwaukee Orchestra and the Orchestra Sinfonica de Santa Cecilia in Rome, directed by Jeffrey Tate. As a special guest artist Donna Brown performed at the prestigious Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris in Debussy's Le Martyre De Saint Sebastien with the Orchestre National de France under the direction of Kurt Masur and in a Debussy recital organized by Radio-France as part of a major project to perform, record and archive all the works by Claude Debussy.
In the 2000-2001 season, Donna Brown appeared in an early music concert with Hervé Niquet at the Festival de Musique sacrée in Ottawa, which was broadcast nationally on CBC and Radio-Canada. Her performance with Manitoba Chamber Orchestra was also broadcast on CBC and her recording of Debussy's early songs with pianist Stephane Lemelin was released by ATMA. Donna Brown made her recital debut in Toronto at the Glenn Gould Studio, followed by a concert with the Thirteen Strings in Ottawa. She was in Turin for performances of Robert Schumann’s Faust Szenen with Jeffrey Tate and the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI and in Stuttgart for Haydn's Harmoniemesse and San Francisco for Die Schöpfung, both works conducted by Helmuth Rilling. Donna Brown toured Spain with the Barockorchester Stuttgart conducted by Frieder Bernius and returned to Germany for a concert tour and recording of W.A. Mozart's Exsultate, Jubilate again with Helmuth Rilling. Recitals with pianist Stephane Lemelin took her to Edmonton and for the Strings of the Future Festival in Ottawa she appeared with the Colorado Quartet in Paul Hindemith's Melancolia for voice and quartet. In June of 2001 she returned to Europe singing W.A. Mozart's Coronation Mass in Munich and Würzburg with the Bayerischen Rundfunks Orchester under the direction of Marcello Viotti.
Donna Brown collaborated with Pinchas Zukerman and the National Arts Centre Orchestra for a Haydn concert in the summer of 2001, followed during the season by appearances in Paris, Québec, Toronto and Kitchener Waterloo in repertoire ranging from L.v. Beethoven and Bruckner to W.A. Mozart, Haydn and George Frideric Handel. She was heard with the Aldeburgh Connection and on television in a CBC Special with the Thirteen Strings of Ottawa. 2002 began with performances of Die Schöpfung with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and she performed works by L.v. Beethoven, Bruckner and W.A. Mozart in Montréal, Québec and Ottawa. Donna Brown returned to France for a recording of Schubert and a concert including repertoire of Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann with Radio France.
Engagements and recording projects in London, Paris, São Paulo, Montreal, Ottawa, Stuttgart and in San Sebastian, Spain highlight Donna Brown’s busy schedule in 2002-2003. Bernard Haitink is her conductor for Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No 2 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and in the Spring of 2003 she performs Alban Berg’s Sieben Frühe Lieder with Eliahu Inbal and the Orchestre National de France. A favourite of Helmuth Rilling, she joins his Stuttgarter Bachakademie for Die Schöpfung and will also be heard in Graz. In Brazil, she records Bachianas Brasileiras for the Orquesta Sinfonica do Estado de São Paulo, while back in Spain she will be in San Sebastian for Berlioz’ Messe Solonnelle In Canada’s national capitol, Ottawa, she joins Trevor Pinnock and the National Arts Centre Orchestra for the title role in G.F. Handel’s Theodora and will also be heard in Ottawa as Micáela in Carmen for Opera Lyra. Donna Brown will be heard with the Calgary Philharmonic in G.F. Handel’s L’allego Ed Il Penseroso. A recitalist of distinction, she appears for the Montreal Ladies’ Morning Musical Club in a programme which will also be heard nationwide on CBC and tours British Columbia with mezzo-soprano Catherine Robbin in a duo-recital programme.
A celebrated recitalist, Donna Brown has performed with such pianists as Michel Dalberto, Roger Vignoles, Maria-João Pires, Alain Planes, Jean-Marc Luisada, Stephane Lemelin, Andrew Tunis and Philippe Cassard. She has also appeared at a number of international festivals including the Festival Internationale de Lanaudiére, the Festival Les Arcs, Festival des Côtes Basques, Domaine Forgeand the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival.
Donna Brown has made over two dozen recordings including a number of world premiéres: Rodrigue Et Chimne conducted by Kent Nagano (Erato), Scylla Et Glaucus (Erato) and Berlioz' Messa Solennelle (Philips), both under the direction of John Eliot Gardiner, Requiem Der VersHnung (Hänssler) conducted by Helmuth Rilling, a recording of Lieder by Fanny Mendelssohn (Opus 111) and Gitanjali composed for Donna Brown by R. Murray Schafer and recorded by CBC with the National Arts Centre Orchestra conducted by Mario Bernardi. Her most recent CD release is a recording of W.A. Mozart’s Exsultate, Jubilate paired with the Krönungsmesse conducted by Helmuth Rilling for the Hänssler label. Of her Frühlingslieder disc (devoted to the music of Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Liszt, Wolf, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann and Schubert), Charles Dupéchez of Le Monde de la Musique writes that Donna Brown, “with a timbre very clear in sound yet capable of many different colours, offers us a bouquet of Lieder magnificently interpreted. She gives us an exceptional recital in a genre where the lack of artists at this high level is cruelly felt.”