May 20, 2021

Spotlight on Sondra Radvanovsky

When it comes to the most dramatic Italian repertoire for soprano, precious few singers these days have what it takes. That number is even fewer when we’re talking about the most formidable roles in Donizetti, Bellini, and Verdi. They all need a sizable and memorably beautiful voice, backed up by a spectacular technique to master the coloratura, trills, floated high notes, and huge climaxes. Today’s “go-to” diva for these roles is Sondra Radvanovsky, whose dazzling career has taken her from her native Berwyn, Illinois, to every prestigious opera house in the world.

Sondra Radvanovsky in her company debut in the title role of Floyd's Susannah.

Lyric audiences have had a love affair with Radvanovsky ever since her debut during the 2002/03 season in the title role of Floyd’s Susannah. Subsequently she scored great successes in four celebrated Verdi portrayals — Leonora/Il trovatore, Elvira/Ernani, Amelia/Un ballo in maschera, and the title role/Aida. Once she began her exciting exploration of bel canto heroines, Lyric reaped the benefits, presenting her in thrilling performances of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena and Bellini’s Norma. Most recently she made a glorious role debut in one of her rare forays into Russian repertoire, portraying Lisa in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades (now streaming).

Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role of Bellini's Norma, 2016/17 Season

Few artists have graced Lyric’s stage in a concert built solely around their talents. Radvanovsky is one of those special artists, and the performance — “The Three Queens” (2019/20 Season) — was one of the most exciting special events we’ve produced in recent years. The company presented the soprano in the finales of three Donizetti works that she’s made her own: Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda, and Roberto Devereux. She’d previously made history as the first soprano to sing Devereux’s heroine, Queen Elizabeth I, at the Metropolitan Opera, and the only soprano who has ever performed those three operas in a single Met season.

Sondra Radvanovksy (Lisa) alongside Brandon Jovanovich (Gherman) in Lyric's 2019/20 production of Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades.

Radvanovsky began her career as a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a member of the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. She started off on the Met stage in supporting roles, but in less than two years she was singing the very challenging role of Antonia/Les contes d’Hoffmann. By 2000 she’d starred at the Met in the title role of Verdi's Luisa Miller and as Leonora in Il trovatore (which quickly became a signature role). She also showed her versatility as Micaëla/Carmen and Donna Anna/Don Giovanni. 

Once Radvanovsky was established internationally, it was clear that her scope was going to be limitless. She’s been hailed in roles as diverse as Rusalka, Roxane/Cyrano de Bergerac, and Rosalinde/Die Fledermaus. Puccini heroines (initially Mimì and Musetta, subsequently Tosca, Suor Angelica, and Manon Lescaut) have been crucial in her repertoire. She’s also scored huge successes in recent seasons singing one of the most coveted roles for a soprano in verismo opera, Maddalena/Andrea Chénier.

Sondra Radvanovsky as Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, “The Three Queens,” 2018/19 Season

Radvanovsky enjoys rewarding relationships with many companies, from Lyric and the Met to London’s Royal Opera House, the Opéra National de Paris, and the major houses of Spain, Italy, and Germany. Each of those audiences relishes the artistry that has given the Lyric public such joy. Taking the stage with enormous charisma, Radvanovsky totally embodies every heroine she plays. To each one she brings her exceptionally distinctive sound, colored by passionate commitment to both the music and the drama. Whether you’re hearing Radvanovsky sculpt an exquisite high C as Aida, blaze through the rage of Norma, or break your heart with the soulfulness of Lisa, you’re witnessing an artist who’s in her gorgeous prime.

Sondra Radvanovsky opens Lyric’s 2021/22 Season starring as Lady Macbeth in Sir David McVicar’s new production of Verdi’s Macbeth, conducted by Enrique Mazzola, Lyric's new music director.

September 17 – October 9, 2021



Lyric’s riveting season opener is the inaugural production of Music Director Enrique Mazzola's tenure, and a brand-new production from Sir David McVicar. Adapting one of the greatest tragedies written by his hero, Shakespeare, Verdi created a stunning portrait of the most power-hungry couple who ever trod a stage. Macbeth’s bloody ascent to the throne of Scotland — led and supported by his wife’s own consuming ambition — results in disaster for them both. Verdi brings them to blazing life in a score that bristles with energy and endless excitement. Grand-scale arias, hair-raising duets, stupendous ensembles — they’re all here, in the first genuine masterpiece of Verdi’s career.

Header photo: Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role of Lyric's 2014/15 production of Donizetti's Anna Bolena. Credit: Todd Rosenberg

All other photos: Dan Rest, Cory Weaver, Todd Rosenberg