Since her critically acclaimed operatic debut in 2004 in the role of Turandot at the Malmö Opera, and her much publicized MEt -Debut as Fidelio/Leonore in 2006, Swedish-American soprano Erika Sunnegårdh has established herself as a unique and touching artist; earning a reputation for her ability to integrate intelligent musicianship with uncompromisingly fearless and emotionally nuanced characterizations.
In 2016-17 she returned to the Vienna State Opera and Royal Opera Stockholm for Salome, Oper Frankfurt for Senta; and sang Kaiserin in both Wiesbaden and Leipzig. She also added Ralph Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony to her concert repertoire.
The 2015-16 Seasons saw her in critically acclaimed interpretations of Senta in Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer (Frankfurt and Wiesbaden), Chrysotemis in Strauss’ Elektra (Wiesbaden), Salome and Senta at Teatr Wielki, Warsaw; and her role debut as Brünnhilde in Wagner’s Siegfried at the Tokyo Nomori Festival under Marek Janowski. In May she made her Debut at the Bastille Opera in Paris as Regan, joining a stellar cast in Calixto Bieito’s career defining staging of Aribert Reimann’s LEAR; and the Summer was again spent in Bregenz with Turandot on the lakeside stage.
The 2017-18 Season begins with the World Premiere of Sebastian Fagerlund‘s adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s film Höstsonaten, in which Ms. Sunnegårdh portays the devoted, yet neglected daughter of concert pianist Charlotte Andergast, played by Anne Sofie von Otter. The Finnish National Opera has assembled a heavy hitting team including singers Tommi Hakkala and Helena Juntonen, as well as director Stéphane Braunschweig and conductor John Storgårds. In October Erika adds Janacek’s Glacolitic Mass to her repertoire, in concert with the Monte Carlo Philharmonic and Juraj Valcuha; and in the beginning of 2018 she reunites with beloved conductor Gianandrea Noseda for Salome in Torino, in Robert Carsen’s production. In the Spring the returns to Wiesbaden for the Maifestspiele in Der Fliegende Holländer, as well as to Nashville Symphony for a concert series of the Verdi Requiem.
Feeling particularly at home with the music of Strauss, Beethoven, Puccini and Wagner, Ms. Sunnegårdh has performed the roles of Kaiserin in Die Frau ohne Schatten at Staatstheater Wiesbaden, Chrysotemis in Elektra at the Grand Teâtre Genève; the title role of Salome at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Teatro Communale di Bologna, Semperoper Dresden, Canadian Opera Company, Welsh National Opera, the Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona, the New International Theatre in Tokyo; Leonore in Fidelio at Oper Frankfurt, Staatsoper Hamburg, The Metropolitan Opera, Oper Köln and the Florentine Opera; Tosca at the Oper Frankfurt, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Royal Stockholm Opera, Oper Köln and Nashville Opera; Turandot with the Deutsche Oper Berlin, The Metropolitan Opera, the Bregenzer Festspiele, and in Sweden at the Royal Stockholm Opera, the Malmö Opera and Norrlandsoperan (Berio-ending); and Senta in Der Fliegende Holländer at the Oslo Opera, Oper Köln and Atlanta Opera.
Other notable interpretations include Euryanthe at Oper Frankfurt; Jenufa by Janacek and Paulina in the world premiere of Jonas Forssell’s Death and the Maiden in Malmö. Further Wagner includes Helmwige (Aix-en-Provence/Salzburg) and Gerhilde (Met Tour/Japan) in Die Walküre, as well as Isabella in Das Liebesverbot with the Münchener Rundfunk. While not considered part of her core repertoire, she has also given acclaimed dramatic portrayals of Verdi’s Lady Macbeth at the Glyndebourne Festival, Abigaille at Teater Hedeland, and Norma at the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden.
In concert she has performed with the Berlin Philharmonic, Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig, the RAI Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonic, Danish Philharmonic, Gothenburg Symphony, Malmö Symphony, The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Milwaukee Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Swedish Radio Symphony, and the percussion ensemble Kroumata; singing repertore incuding the Verdi Requiem, Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, Rossini Stabat Mater, Zemlinsky’s Lyric Symphony and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, as well as opera in concert and newly commissioned works.
Erika has had the pleasure and privilege of working with, among others, Marco Armiliato, Semyon Bychkov, Paolo Carignani, Riccardo Chailly, Myung Wun Chung, James Conlon, Andreas Delfs, Gustavo Dudamel, Adam Fischer, John Fiore, Hartmut Haenchen, Daniel Harding, Will Humburg, Lothar Koenigs, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Fabio Luisi, Nicola Luisotti, Cornelius Meister, Gianandrea Noseda, Kirill Petrenko, Sir Simon Rattle and Stefan Soltesz.
During her education she attended the Israel Vocal Arts Institute, Tanglewood Music Center, the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies, The International Institute of Vocal Arts in Italy, as well as the undergraduate program at the Manhattan School of Music; all on scholarship.
In 1999 Erika completed her Master of Arts degree at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College after two profoundly inspiring and personally beneficial years – an experience to which she credits much of her present artistic capacity.
During her education, Ms. Sunnegårdh was a recipient of the annual Cultural Award of the American Scandinavian Society, for the promotion of Scandinavian Culture in the United States. She also founded In time with Music, a community outreach program which benefited hundreds of public school children in Queens, New York.
PHOTOS OF ERIKA SUNNEGÅRDH