Elizabeth has been made a Fellow of the Royal College of Music, her alma mater. HRH Prince Charles presented her with the award at a ceremony at the college in March. Elizabeth is delighted and proud to have been awarded such an honour from the college where she had such happy times.
Elizabeth recently scored a major success in her role debut as Amanda in Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre with the LSO and Sir Simon Rattle. She has also written a piece for the Guardian about the process of learning this very difficult music. You can read it here:
Warning: may contain jokes
Elizabeth’s recent performance as Josephine in Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore at the Edinburgh Festival was released on CD on 20th May 2016. The cast also includes John Mark Ainsley, Toby Spence and Hilary Summers, the story narrated by the evergreen Tim Brooke-Taylor. This saucy ship’s a beauty…
Elizabeth has been included as a new entry in the 2016 edition of Who’s Who, the well known UK dictionary of biography. This starts an exciting year for her, which includes her role debut as the Countess in the Marriage of Figaro.
Elizabeth is thrilled that her new CD of Mozart arias with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and maestro Christian Baldini has been chosen as Classic FM’s Disc of the Week.
The CD will be released on 15th June and is available to pre-order at your favourite record store.
It follows hot on the heels of the release of Elizabeth’s recordings of Bach St Matthew Passion and Mahler Symphony No 4. Her disc of virtuoso arias by Alessandro Scarlatti will be released in October, making it a MegaWatts year for CDs!
Take a look at this month’s Gramophone magazine to check out Elizabeth’s article on the soprano Gundula Janowitz. In the Icons feature, Elizabeth explores this wonderful singer’s career, repertoire and discography.
Along with being Radio 3’s disc of the week, Elizabeth’s recent recording of JS Bach’s St Matthew Passion with the Academy of Ancient Music has attracted a clutch of rave reviews…
“What essentially transpires is the billowing theatricality of a 17th century oratorio, encouraged by the use of Bach’s initial and rather more austere version of 1727, a text still to be given its final polish and yet exploited fully by Richard Egarr to encourage his singers to ‘enact’ emotions freely from within the heart of the imagery . . .
“If some of the numbers alight a touch breathlessly on a conceit of disquieting urgency, then the considered placement of the narrative falls to the unassuming and unforced Evangelist of James Gilchrist; his is a supremely courageous and intelligent reading whose interaction with the human volatility of Matthew Rose’s Jesus is profoundly affecting . . .
“The outstanding Elizabeth Watts and Sarah Connolly have their bigger moments (the latter’s ‘Erbarme dich’ is simply unmissable) but this [‘So ist mein Jesus nun gefangen’] is a Gordian knot as yet untied for mankind and its effect is as breathtaking as Fritz Lehmann’s revelatory reading . . . Bach’s later appoggiaturas may not have been a good idea on this evidence . . .
“Egarr’s compellingly original vision of this greatest of all musical tombeaus, with its fresh anticipation founded on collective adrenaline and uniformly outstanding lyrical Bach-singing . . . is a triumph.”
BBC Music Magazine
“Richard Egarr has boldly chosen to record Bach’s first, 1727, version of the Passion, far less familiar than the 1736 revision – and not, he asserts, “work in progress. It is different.” The differences alone would make it a “must hear” recording, even if it were less admirably performed . . . Singing and playing are highly polished and assured throughout, with James Gilchrist superb as the Evangelist.”
★ ★ ★ ★
The Mail on Sunday
“For many serious music-lovers, listening to the St Matthew Passion at Easter is as vital as hearing Handel’s Messiah at Christmas.
“There were two packed performances in London last weekend, at the Royal Festival Hall and at the Barbican, the latter featuring the Academy of Ancient Music under Richard Egarr, whose new own-label recording really hits the spot for me. This is also an opportunity to wave the flag, because every one of a distinguished roster of soloists is British, led by James Gilchrist’s eloquent Evangelist.
“Matthew Rose is an imposing Jesus, and the arias at the heart of the work, which offer a deeply moving commentary on the Gospel, are exceptionally well sung by soprano Elizabeth Watts, alto Sarah Connolly, tenor Thomas Hobbs and bass Christopher Maltman. Egarr, both as harpsichordist and conductor, is the presiding genius here, presenting Bach’s original thoughts, as given in Leipzig on Good Friday 1727, rather than the 1736 revision normally performed. The 1736 version is more imposing, but the 1727 score has a touching simplicity. Its smaller scale brings spiritual benefits, for instance in the final bass aria, about Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross. Here Christopher Maltman is accompanied by a gentle lute rather than, as in the 1736 edition, a gruff viola da gamba.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
“This is a far more vital and dramatic account of Bach’s ‘Great Passion’ than the penitential one Egarr conducted a few years ago at Glyndebourne. Using his own period-instrument orchestra and chorus (of 20), it is a fine mainstream reading that makes no pious claims to ‘authenticity’. Even though none of the soloists is a native German-speaker, their diction is clear, and, in the cases of James Gilchrist’s Evangelist and Sarah Connolly’s mezzo-soprano, the handling of the text is both viscerally emotional and eloquent. Properly, the sequence of Peter’s denial and the succeeding aria, ‘Erbarme Dich’, with its consoling violin obbligato, becomes the spiritual and dramatic crux of the Passion story in these outstanding singers’ hands. Elizabeth Watts’s gleaming soprano, Thomas Hobbs clear tenor and Christopher Maltman’s bass shine, too, and Matthew Rose’s Jesus sounds earthier than usual.” Album of the week
See more at: http://www.aam.co.uk/#/recordings/discography/js-bach/bach-matthew-passion.aspx
Following hot on the heels on the release of Elizabeth’s St Matthew Passion with the Academy of Ancient Music, two further CDs featuring Elizabeth will shortly be released.
Mahler’s 4th Symphony with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and will be released in May and a disc of Mozart arias with the Scottish Chamber orchestra in June.
This will be a bumper year for recordings of Elizabeth with her disc of arias by Alessandro Scarlatti scheduled for release in October.
Elizabeth recently completed a European tour of Handel’s Hercules with The English Concert and Harry Bicket, delighting the critics:
“Elizabeth Watts confirmed her place as one of Britain’s leading sopranos as the traduced Iole, desolate in her lament for her lost home, but a match for Dejanira when accused of being Hercules’ lover. Like a cornered lioness, eyes flashing, claws out, we felt her bitter scorn in “Ah think what ills the jealous prove”. And yet, when Dejanira’s downfall was complete, her honeyed sweetness in “My breast with tender pity swells” was deeply moving.”
Stephen Pritchard, The Observer
“Elizabeth Watts… singing with appropriate and moving purity but unveiling fierce temperament – and pinpoint coloratura – when it was called for”
Hugo Shirley, The Telegraph
“As the innocent Iole, Elizabeth Watts’s fresh and lucid soprano moved around Handel’s notes with graceful expressiveness”
George Hall, The Guardian
Elizabeth recently recorded a disc of arias by Alessandro Scarlatti with The English Concert for release late 2015.
Elizabeth’s recent recording of Bach’s St Matthew Passion in its original 1727 version is due for release on 31st March.
Recorded with the Academy of Ancient Music and released on their own label, the disc is conducted by Richard Egarr and also features James Gilchrist (as the Evangelist), Sarah Connolly, Thomas Hobbs, Christopher Maltman, Ashley Riches and Matthew Rose.
Elizabeth previously recorded the St John Passion with the AAM, which was nominated for a Gramophone Award.
Elizabeth has been placed on the Evening Standard’s list of the Top 1000 most influential Londoners. 2014 has seen her perform in London’s most prestigious venues including the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; the Festival Hall and at the Last Night of the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall.
Elizabeth will give a concert of virtuoso Scarlatti arias with The English Concert at London’s newest hall, Milton Court at the Barbican on Sunday 9th November.
Elizabeth’s recording of CPE Bach’s Magnificat with the RIAS Kammerchor and Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin conducted by Hans-Christoph Rademann has won the Gramophone Award for Best Baroque Vocal recording. The disc also contains the splendid motet “Heilig ist Gott”, Richard Wigmore of Gramophone describing it as “The finest recording of CPE’s choral masterpiece I have heard”.
Elizabeth’s recording of JS Bach’s St John Passion with the Academy of Ancient Music was also shortlisted for the award.
Elizabeth has just recorded an edition of Radio 3’s Saturday Classics, to be broadcast on Saturday 13th September at 2pm. It’s an eclectic mix of tunes that have influenced her in her musical life along with a few tall stories. Tune in!
Elizabeth is delighted to be singing at The Last Night of the Proms this year on 13th September. She will be singing in Strauss’ cantata about the Battle of Hastings “Taillefer”. Elizabeth will be wearing a top designer dress that will be auctioned on ebay after in aid of Streetwise Opera. Watch this space for more details…
“Inside Opera: Becoming Zerlina – From first rehearsal to stage” featuring Elizabeth Watts is now available from Covent Garden Royal Opera House.
“Watts turns Batti, batti into a song of seduction, claiming the entire audience as her conquest.”
Andrew Clark, Financial Times
“Elizabeth Watts’s Zerlina was exquisitely sung, elevating the character into a passionate, sexually aware creature who has clearly outgrown her provincial past.”
Ashutosh Khandekar, Opera Now
“Best of all was Elizabeth Watts’ Zerlina – perhaps the most purely captivating aspect of an invigorating if uneven evening.”
Rupert Christiansen, Daily Telegraph
“Holten is lucky with his cast…Elizabeth Watts’ perky Zerlina… ”
George Hall, The Stage
– Andrew Clark, Financial Times
More critical praise for Elizabeth:
HANDEL Radamisto, The English Concert, Harry Bicket, Barbican Hall, London
Elizabeth Watts outshone them both with her outstandingly communicative Tigrane, singing with bright conviction and conveying every emotional twist and turn with vivid clarity…showed how the repetitions in Handel’s arias can be made to feel dramatically essential.
Hugo Shirley, The Telegraph, 11 February, 2013
…the audience loved her for her gleaming singing as much as for her levity.
Erica Jeal, The Guardian, 11 February, 2013
With David Daniels, Luca Pisaroni and Elizabeth Watts in leading roles, it’s hard to imagine a better cast for Handel’s drama.
Rupert Christiansen,The Telegraph, 9 February, 2013
“a performance which mixes sumptuousness and refinement with impeccable poise and style… Watts is as authoritative and compelling a Bach soprano as you will find anywhere today… A most rewarding and satisfying disc in which an excellent band of players under a superb director are crowned by a voice of real magic.”
Marc Rochester, International Record Review, February 2011
and for Artaxerxes too…
“The Soldier tir’d… is resplendently delivered by Elizabeth Watts.”
George Hall, BBC Music Magazine