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Christine Goerke (Soprano)

Born: USA

The American Soprano, Christine Goerke, recipient of the 2001 Richard Tucker Award, has established an outstanding reputation with many of the world's leading opera houses and orchestras.

In 1997, when Christine Goerke appeared at Glimmerglass Opera and in the subsequent New York City Opera production later that year of Gluck's Iphigenie en Tauride, critics began to take notice of the fledgling dramatic soprano's talent. Her performance stood out in Francesca Zambello's stunning production through the opulent beauty of her voice and sure dramatic instincts. Since then, she has established an outstanding reputation not only for her beautiful voice, but her outstanding dramatic and comedic abilities with many of the world's leading opera houses.

From the very beginning of her career, Christine Goerke has programmed excerpts from Wagner's Lohengrin, Tannhauser, Die Walkure, and Der Fliegende Höllander in concerts with James Levine, Donald Runnicles, and Robert Bass. She will further establish her credentials as this generation's Wagnerian soprano with performances as Ortrud in Lohengrin for the Houston Grand Opera in (A scheduled debut as Elizabeth in Tannhauser with Seiji Ozawa in Japan had to be postponed with the joyous news of the anticipated birth of her first child in late February, 2007.

Another big step in her young career was the addition of Bellini's Norma, which she first sang for the Seattle Opera in 2003 opposite the great contralto Ewa Podles. R.M. Campbell, music critic of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer wrote of her performance, "At her disposal is a big, gorgeous timbre that informs everything she does. It is particularly rich in the lower and middle ranges where Norma spends a good share of the performance. There is Goerke's seamless legato, an ability to keep the phrases moving without any apparent break. She has the coloratura necessary for the passagework and the temperament to invest it with emotion. Goerke gave a memorable performance, destined to grow." She will sing the title role In Norma once again for the Opera Company of Philadelphia in the 2009 season.

For the last few seasons, the music of Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner has steadily moved towards the center of Christine Goerke's repertoire. In 2005, she sang her first Chrysothemis in Elektra conducted by Seiji Ozawa at the Saito Kinen Festival in Tokyo. Her success in this part led to an immediate invitation to perform the role again with Maestro Seiji Ozawa at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Firenze for the 2007-2008 season. Ariadne auf Naxos, another new Strauss role, became the vehicle for her successful debut at La Scala in June, 2006. Her first Wagner performances began as the Third Norn in Gotterdammerung for the Metropolitan Opera, (where she is an alumna of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program), with James Levine on the podium. This led to an assignment to an understudy of Elsa in Lohengrin also at the Metropolitan Opera. Her next Wagner assignment was Gutrune, also in Gotterdammerung, first in Sydney with Edo de Waart, and more recently in Los Angeles with John Mauceri in 2005. In March and April of 2006, she sang the role once again in Robert Wilson's controversial staging at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris.

During the 2006 season, Christine Goerke created a sensation with critics and the public alike as Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus for her San Francisco Opera debut. Noting the agile richness and size of her soprano, one critic simply wrote, "Ecco la Brunnhilde." In May 2007, she returned to the Opera Company of Philadelphia to sing the role of Alice Ford in Verdi's Falstaff. Upcoming engagements include the title role in Fidelio with the Opera Company of Philadelphia and a return to Houston Grand Opera as Ortrud in Lohengrin.

While most critics have taken notice of the size of Christine Goerke's soprano, she herself has carefully cultivated her vocal resources as her voice matured, singing many W.A. Mozart and George Frideric Handel roles such as Armida in Rinaldo and the title role in Alcina at the New York City Opera, the title role in Agrippina at Santa Fe, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni for the Metropolitan Opera, Seattle Opera, and the Paris Opera, Donna Anna at Covent Garden, and Elettra in Idomeneo and Vitellia in La Clemenza di Tito for the Paris Opera. Maestro Seiji Ozawa cast her in his W.A. Mozart/daPonte cycle of Le Nozze di Figaro (Countess), Don Giovanni (Donna Elvira) and Cosi Fan Tutte (Fiordiligi) for his Ongaku-Juku Opera Project in Tokyo, Japan.

Christine Goerke has been praised as a first-rate comic actress not only as Armida and Rosalinde, but also as Alice Ford in Verdi's Falstaff, and twice as Musettta in Puccini's La Boheme in both Los Angeles at the Hollywood Bowl and in Pittsburgh. Other roles in her repertoire have included Madame Lidoine in Francis Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmelites (at the Metropolitan Opera, the Saito-Kinen Fesitval, and at the Santa Fe Opera), the Female Chorus in Benjamin Britten's The Rape of Lucretia (Glimmerglass Opera and the Opera Theater of St. Louis), and Ellen Orford in Peter Grimes (Saito-Kinen Festival and the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino).

On the concert platform, Christine Goerke has appeared with a number of the leading orchestras including the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. In both opera and concerts, Goerke continues to work with some of the world's foremost conductors including James Conlon, Mark Elder, Christoph Eschenbach, Claus Peter Flor, James Levine, Sir Charles Mackerras, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, Seiji Ozawa, Donald Runnicles, Esa-Pekka Salonen, the late Robert Shaw, Leonard Slatkin, Patrick Summers, Jeffery Tate, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Edo de Waart.

Christine Goerke's recording of Ralph Vaughan Williams' Sea Symphony with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra won the 2003 Grammy Award for Best Classical Recording and Best Choral Performance. Her close association with Robert Shaw yielded several recordings included the Johannes Brahms' Liebeslieder Waltzes, F. Poulenc's Stabat Mater, Szymanowski's Stabat Mater, and the Grammy-nominated recording of Dvorak's Stabat Mater. Other recordings inclthe title role of Iphigenie in Iphigenie en Tauride for Telarc and the B. Britten War Requiem, which won the 1999 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance.

Source: Christine Goerke Website, Photos © Christian Steiner
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (December 2008)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Daniel Beckwith


G.F. Handel: Opera Alcina, HWV 34 [Alcina]

Links to other Sites

Soprano Christine Goerke (Official Website)


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