The Polish contralto, Ewa Podleś, studied at the Warsaw Academy of Music under Madame Bolechowska. She made her stage debut as Dorabella in Mozart's Così fan tutte in 1975.
With her distinctive, dramatic voice of staggering range, agility and amplitude (up to soprano high C), Ewa Podles is widely regarded as the world's foremost contralto. Though known mainly by her Baroque works, Podles' repertoire ranges from George Frideric Handel's Giulio Cesare (Cesare) to songs by Dmitri Shostakovich. Right at the center of her abilities; however, are the contralto roles (some of them "trouser" roles) from Gioacchino Rossini. She is also a specialist in Russian works.
Her engagements include the Seattle Opera (title role of G.F. Handel's Giulio Cesare, Adalgisa in Bellini's Norma and Erda in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen); San Diego Opera (Cesare); San Francisco Opera (Polinesso in G.F. Handel's Ariodante), Canadian Opera Company (Cesare, Jocasta in Oedipus Rex, Klytamnestra in Elektra and title role of Rossini's Tancredi); Houston Grand Opera (Ulrica in Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera and the Marquise in Donizetti's La fille du Régiment); Dallas Opera (Bertarido in G.F. Handel's Rodelinda and Erda); Milwaukee's Florentine Opera (Azucena in Verdi's Il Trovatore), Michigan Opera Theatre (Ulrica) and Minnesota Opera (Malcolm in Rossiniís La donna del Lago) and Atlanta Opera (Azucena). She made her Metropolitan Opera debut on February 14, 1984, singing the title role in G.F. Handel's Rinaldo, but only for few performances that year (from which only two were in the Met's House), and was notably absent from the Met for more than 24 years, since then pursuing her career elsewhere and performing regularly at all other major opera houses in Europe and America. Her return to the Met took place on September 24, 2008, when she sang role of La Cieca in Ponchielli's La Gioconda.
Appearances at New York's Carnegie Hall include Gluck's Orphée et Eurydice with the Oratorio Society of New York, Ulrica with The Collegiate Chorale, Baroque and Rossini programs with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Das Lied von der Erde with the Philadelphia Orchestra; and Szymanowski's Three Hymns with Sinfonia Varsovia. The 2005-2006 season included recitals at Boston's Jordan Hall, Vancouver's Chan Centre and on the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society series, as well as sensationally received performances of Rossini's cantata Giovanna d'Arco with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra (in Pittsburgh and at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall) and Toronto Symphony Orchestra; and Tancredi in concert with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under the auspices of the University Musical Society in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which previously presented her in recital as well as in an acclaimed, semistaged version of Orfeo.
Ewa Podleś has sung principal roles at the Metropolitan and Vancouver and Operas; Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin and Deutsche Oper Berlin; Frankfurt Alte Oper; Gran Teatre del Liceu; Teatro Bellini; La Scala; La Fenice; Teatro San Carlo; Warsaw's National Theatre; Théâtre Châtelet and Opéra Bastille.
In addition to her rigorous operatic calendar, Ewa Podleś is one of the most acclaimed recital and concert performers in the world. She has been guest soloist with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra under Nicholas McGegan (Baroque arias); San Francisco Symphony Orchestra (for both the Verdi Requiem and Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky, under Donald Runnicles and Libor Pešek, respectively); Detroit Symphony Orchestra (Gustav Mahler's Second Symphony and Das Lied von der Erde, both with Neeme Järvi); Seattle Symphony Orchestra under Gerard Schwarz (G. Mahler's Symphony No. 3, which she reprises with them in 2006-2007); and Montreal Symphony (a Berlioz/Gluck program under Charles Dutoit and Kindertotenlieder under Antonin Wit). Other orchestral credits include the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and National Arts Centre Orchestras; Berliner Philharmoniker, National Orchestra of Spain; Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, American Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, NHK Symphony Tokyo, Philadelphia Orchestra and New World Symphony; Hong Kong Philharmonic and Dresdner Philharmonie; under such conductors as David Atherton, Leon Botstein, Myung-Whun Chung, Kazimierz Kord, Armin Jordan, Jerzy Semkow, Lorin Maazel, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Constantine Orbelian, Antoni Wit, Alberto Zedda, Wojciech Michniewski, Nicholas McGegan, Victor Pablo Perez, Jacek Kaspszyk, Jesús López-Cobos, Will Crutchfieeld and Pinchas Zukerman. A particularly acclaimed recitalist, she has been on the major art-song series of Cleveland, Atlanta, St. Paul, Chicago, Paris, Amsterdam, London, Toronto, Moscow, Warsaw, Montreal, San Juan, Québec and New York (Alice Tully Hall and the 92nd Street Y). Festival invitations include New York's Bard Festival, Aix-en-Provence, Flanders, Montpellier and Lanaudière.
Her recent performances includes roles of La Cieca in La Gioconda, Bertarido in G.F. Handel's Rodelinda, the title role in Rossini's Tancredi, the title role in G.F. Handel's Giulio Cesare in Egitto, Isabella in Rossini's L'Italiana in Algeri, Erda in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen at the Seattle Opera, and Klytämnestra in Richard Strauss's Elektra with the Canadian Opera Company.
Her many collaborations with Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre includes two Deutsche Grammophon recordings: G.F. Handel's Ariodante and Gluck's Armide. Other recent issues include two acclaimed Delos recordings: Handel Arias and Russian Arias, on Arabesque a CD of Chopin songs and on DUX recital at the Warsaw Philharmonic (live) with pianist Garrick Ohlsson, with whom she often appears in recital.
Ewa Podleś and her husband, the accomplished pianist Jerzy Marchwinski, live in Warsaw, Poland.