Sally Burgess

Sally Burgess

International Opera Mezzo Soprano | Director

Sally Burgess ARCM FRCM – Director, Mezzo-soprano, Teacher and Mentor.

Sally was born in Durban, South Africa and came to London in her teens. She studied at the RCM with Marion Studholme, then later privately with Josephine Veasey.

Sally’s teaching is holistically based, including work on breathing, the psychology of performance, exploring text, imagination and Alexander technique, and offering day workshops as part of her studio. She works with established singers as well as those at the beginning of their studies.

Vocal Professor at the RCM for 10 years, she also teaches stagecraft and directs opera scenes.

Sally works with singers worldwide giving masterclasses and workshops last year in Russia, South Africa, and France.
She heads the Young Singers Programme for Les Azuriales Opera Festival, Nice, and in collaboration with London Gates Education in Moscow.

She works with singers at the Royal Opera House on the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme, Co-Opera Company, and with British Youth Opera. Sally has a close relationship with Live Music Now, fronting their vocal masterclass series in the aLuMNi programme. She adjudicates and examines for all UK conservatoires and is a member of the British Voice Association.

Sally Burgess has made some of the most exciting operatic roles her own. The Sunday Times described her as “The greatest exponent of Carmen I have ever seen”. She went on to perform Carmen worldwide, first at ENO where she sang the role over a span of 20 years in several different productions, later at The Met, Berlin, Munich, Paris, Bregenz, Portland Oregon, Opera North, NZ, and in concert.

Her operatic debut was Zerlina Don Giovanni with ENO with whom she was given a solo contract aged 23. Beginning her career as a soprano, her early roles included Cherubino, Pamina, Micaela and Mimi. Later as a mezzo she sang the Composer, Octavian, Charlotte, Dido (Berlioz and Purcell) amongst others. Her years at ENO coincided with those of David Pountney and Mark Elder – a wonderfully productive period in British operatic history. She has since been a regular guest artist singing over 40 roles with the company.

She made her debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Siebel Faust with Alfredo Kraus, at The Metropolitan Opera, the Bayerisches Staatsoper in Munich and the Opera de Bastille, Paris as Carmen, at the Opera de Geneve, Switzerland as Fricka The Ring, and at Houston Grand Opera as Polinesso Ariodante.

Other roles include Eboli Don Carlos, Azucena Il Trovatore ,Amneris Aida, Orfeo (Gluck), Judith Bluebeard’s Castle, Kabanicha Katya Kabanova, Ottavia Poppea (also a BBC film), Dalilah Samson et Dalilah, and Herodias Salome. For the Met she has sung Carmen, Queen Isabella The Voyage by Philip Glass, and Hanna Glawari The Merry Widow.

Sally has been invited to New Zealand for 3 different productions of Carmen.

Sally has enjoyed equal success on the concert platform where she has performed with all the UK’s leading orchestras and internationally with Sir Mark Elder, Sir Charles Mackerras, Richard Hickox, Paul Daniel, Kirril Petrenko, Riccardo Chailli, Daniel Baremboim, Gerard Schwartz and Richard Farnes.

She has sung semi-staged performances of Judith Bluebeard’s Castle with the Symphony Orchestras of Bordeaux, Houston, Seattle and Porto, Portugal, as well as full scale productions for ENO and ON.

Sally played Julie Laverne Showboat in the Opera North/RSC 10 week run at the London Palladium; she was nominated for “Best Actress in a Musical” at the Olivier Awards.

She has sung a wide variety of music over a long career with numerous recording to her credit, including several with Chandos (Judith Bluebeard’s Castle, Herodias Salome, Florence Pike Albert Herring, and Sorceress Dido and Aeneas), Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Oratorio, and three jazz albums (Sally Burgess Sings Jazz, The Other Me, and Happy Talk). For TER she has recorded Show Boat, The King and I, and West Side Story.

Sally has performed and sung with the Royal Ballet L’Invitation aux Voyages, and presented a one woman show “Sally Burgess’s Women” directed by Keith Warner. A solo tour of “Something Wonderful – the life and music of Richard Rodgers” was created for Opera North. At the Barbican she sang and presented “Harold Arlen – Who?” a two week run based on his life and music, both with jazz ensemble.

She made her directorial debut with Cosi Fan Tutte for ECO at Buxton and in London 2009, followed by a new opera Sonya’s Story by Neal Thornton at the Riverside Studios 2010. She directed Il Trovatore for Dorset Opera 2012 , and will create a new Cosi to open the Dubrovnik Festival 2013.

Sally heads the Amazwi Omzansi Africa Performing Arts Internationa Festival workshops in Durban 2013.

Photo Credit – Bill Knight