Biography

After 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 established herself as a unique and touching artist; earning a reputation for her ability to integrate effective musicianship with uncompromisingly fearless and emotionally nuanced characterisations.

Between 2004 and 2018, Swedish-American Soprano Erika Sunnegårdh has enjoyed a packed schedule performing around the world. Roles like Salome, Leonore, Turandot, Tosca, Senta, and Kaiserin have dominated her career; while novelties like Euryanthe, Jenufa, Regan (LEAR), Eva (Autumn Sonata), and Paulina (Death and the Maiden) have enriched and deepened her artistic commitment.

Beginning her international operatic and concert career quite late, Erika has successfully mined the first fifteen years of her career for maximum reward. Having sung in mid- and upper-level opera houses, with a wide range of colleagues, she has accumulated an extensive body of experience and insight into both the business and artistic methodology of music drama. A student of Life, she sees a career in the Performing Arts as an access to humanity, but also as a responsibility toward humanity.

During 2019-20, Erika will be turning her attention to new opera repertoire, favouring retention of vocal flexibility and lyricism, rather than taking the more traditional route into heavier dramatic roles. Wishing to spend a greater portion of her time on concert and art song repertoire, she is considering only opera roles that, while needing dramatic power, still balance with the intimacy and transparency so unique and special to the natural timbre of her instrument.

In the meanwhile, she will repeat the role of Regan in Calixto Bieito’s production of Reimann’s LEAR in Florence, Paris, and Madrid; as well as Eva in the critically acclaimed World Premiere production of Sebastian Fagerlund’s Autumn Sonata (Finnish National Opera 2017), which now takes off for Malmö Opera (September) and the Hong Kong Cultural Festival (October).

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History

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 and Leipzig Opera; Chrysotemis in Elektra at the Grand Teâtre Genève and Staatstheater Wiesbaden; Leonore in Fidelio at Oper Frankfurt, Staatsoper Hamburg, The Metropolitan Opera, Oper Köln and Finnish Broadcasting Company; 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, Oper Köln, and in Sweden at the Royal Stockholm Opera, Malmö Opera and Norrlandsoperan (Berio-ending); and Senta in Der Fliegende Holländer at the Oper Frankfurt, Oslo Opera, Oper Köln, Staatstheater Wiesbaden, and Atlanta Opera, Brünnhilde in Wagner’s Siegfried at the Tokyo Nomori Festival (concerts) under Marek Janowski; and her beloved Salome, at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Teatro Communale di Bologna, Semperoper Dresden, Canadian Opera Company, Welsh National Opera, the Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona, Teatro Regio Torino, Royal Opera Stockholm, Teatr Wielki Warsaw, Teatro Petruzzelli Bari, and the New International Theatre in Tokyo.

Other notable interpretations include Regan in Calixto Bieito’s career defining staging of Aribert Reimann’s LEAR at the Paris Opera Garnier, 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, Nashville Symphony, Finnish National Radio, and the percussion ensemble Kroumata; singing repertoire including the Verdi Requiem, Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, Rossini Stabat Mater, Zemlinsky’s Lyric Symphony and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Janacek’s Glacolitic Mass, Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Sea 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. She has also been nominated for a Dora Award for her Canadian Opera Company Salome, as well as been nominated several times for Singer of the Year by the Swedish Opera Magazine.

Classes, Talks and Workshops –  2005 to Present

Side by side with singing, Erika has been teaching interpretation, drama, and music communication, as well as career strategies. Her focus is always on delving deeper into what stops artists from being authentic and vulnerable in front of people, and providing insight into the moment of attention that releases self-concern into revealing truthfulness.  (Richard Wagner Konservatorium, Wien; Canadian Opera Company Studio; Palm Beach Opera Studio; Aaron Copland School of Music; Belmont College, Nashville; Georgia State University, Atlanta)

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