Renowned as a unique musician and stage performer, Beth Clayton has been praised for her outstanding performances with America’s leading opera companies and orchestras. The New York Times summed up these virtues in its review of her in the title role of Carmen at New York City Opera: “The mezzo-soprano Beth Clayton does not need to act to convey tremendous power. Six feet tall and sultry, with a mane of dark hair, she took the stage of the New York State Theater on Sunday afternoon as a Carmen prepared to eat the whole wimpy garrison of soldiers for breakfast… She is a fine, impressive Carmen, and she has the tools to become a truly great one.”
The American mezzo opens New York City Opera’s 2009/10 season as the vengeful Vashti, the deposed Queen of Persia in Hugo Weisgall’s Esther, directed by Christopher Mattaliano, to reopen the newly renovated David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. She also brings her critically acclaimed portrayal ofCarmen to Canadian Opera Company, and sings Flosshilde in Los Angeles Opera’s eagerly anticipated new Ring Cycle, directed by Achim Freyer and conducted by James Conlon.
Last season, Ms. Clayton sang the world premiere of Howard Shore’s The Fly, in a production by film director David Cronenberg, conducted by Plácido Domingo at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, which she reprised in its American premiere for her debut at Los Angeles Opera. She sang her signature role ofCarmen at Fort Worth Opera, and returned to Los Angeles Opera as Flosshilde in a new production of Das Rheingold by Achim Freyer, and as the Third Lady in the beloved Peter Hall/Gerald Scarfe production of Die Zauberflöte, both conducted by James Conlon. Her concert calendar included Mozart’s Requiem with the Nashville Symphony.
During the 2007/8 season, Beth Clayton reprised her signature role of Carmen at New York City Opera, as well as at Austin Lyric Opera, and essayed the title role in Handel’s Giulio Cesare with the Opéra Municipale de Marseille. On the concert stage, Ms. Clayton performed Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the San Diego Symphony, and Verdi’s Requiem with the Winston-Salem Symphony.
Highlights of recent seasons include her debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in John Adams’s El Niño conducted by David Robertson; the Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos at Vancouver Opera conducted by Jonathan Darlington; Carmen at Opera Colorado (conducted by Stephen Lord and directed by James Robinson), Santa Fe Opera (in a new production conducted by Alan Gilbert), and for her company debut at Calgary Opera; Pasqualita in the world premiere of John Adams’s Doctor Atomic at San Francisco Opera, conducted by Donald Runnicles and directed by Peter Sellars; her debut at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich in a new production of Handel’s Orlando conducted by Ivor Bolton and directed by David Alden; and a return to Lyric Opera of Chicago as Maddalena in a new production of Rigoletto conducted by Jesús López-Cobos.
Beth Clayton’s extensive repertoire ranges from frequent collaborations with today’s leading composers to major roles of the baroque. Among the composers with whom she has worked are Kaija Saariaho (in her London debut at the Barbican as Le Pelerin in a concert performance of L’Amour de Loin with the BBC Symphony conducted by Robert Spano), John Adams (El Niño with the Los Angeles Philharmonic), Thomas Adès (“America” with the New York Philharmonic under Masur), Aaron Jay Kernis (“Garden of Light” with the Minnesota Orchestra under Kreizberg), William Bolcom (“A Wedding” at Lyric Opera of Chicago directed by the late Robert Altman), Carlisle Floyd (Loma in Cold Sassy Tree at Houston Grand Opera and San Diego Opera, released on Albany Records), Peter Lieberson (Ashoka’s Dream at Santa Fe Opera) and Deborah Dratell (the title role of Lilith at New York City Opera). She has also sung the title role of Handel’s Ariodante with the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston under Christopher Hogwood, the role of Nerone in Agrippina at Glimmerglass Opera under Harry Bicket and Amastre in Xerxes at New York City Opera with Gary Wedow. In the summer of 2003, Beth Clayton sang the role of Rosalind in the first present-day performances of Sir Richard Rodney Bennett’s The Mines of Sulphur which was issued on the Chandos label and has been nominated for a 2007 Grammy Award.
Equally at home in the repertoire of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Beth Clayton has performed as Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier with Vancouver Opera; Indiana Elliott in Virgil Thompson’s The Mother of Us All in the celebrated Christopher Alden production conducted by Runnicles for her San Francisco Opera debut; Andromaca in Ermione and the Fox in Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen at the Dallas Opera; Olga in Yevgeny Onegin and Maddalena at Santa Fe Opera; Carmen with Welsh National Opera for her European operatic debut; Maddalena at Santa Fe Opera, Boston Lyric Opera and Opera Colorado; Frederica in Luisa Miller at the Spoleto Festival USA; Mère Marie in a new Francesca Zambello production of Les Dialogues des Carmelites conducted by Seiji Ozawa at the Saito Kinen Festival; Nicklausse in Les Contes d’Hoffmann and Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro at Houston Grand Opera; and the Fox for her debut with the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto and Don Ramiro in La Finta Giardiniera with Washington Opera.
Beth Clayton also appears regularly with leading orchestras in an equally varied repertoire. Her most recent appearances include Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with Orpheus at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and her Cleveland Orchestra debut in the role of Death in Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol conducted by Pierre Boulez. She also returned to the New York Philharmonic for arias and duets under Bramwell Tovey. Beth Clayton has sung with the Ravinia Festival in a concert of arias and ensembles. She made her debut with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Kurt Masur in Mendelssohn’s Die Erste Walpurgisnacht. Other concert appearances include her debut with the Montreal Symphony in Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 conducted by Charles Dutoit. She made her debut with the National Symphony singing Handel’s Messiah with Hogwood. She has also performed this work with the San Diego Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Boston Baroque and the Florida Philharmonic. She has been a regular guest of the Minnesota Orchestra, singing in various programs including Bernstein songs conducted by Eiji Oue (released by Reference Records), concert performances of Le Nozze di Figaro conducted by Jeffrey Tate, the Mahler Symphony No. 8 conducted by David Zinman, Debussy’s La Damoiselle Élue conducted by Oue, the Brahms Alto Songs with Viola in a chamber music evening featuring Emmanuel Ax and in the Requiem and opera arias by Mozart. Her Baltimore Symphony debut, also with Zinman, was in Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A further highlight was her appearance in a “Live from Lincoln Center” telecast of A Salute to the American Musical.
A graduate of Southern Methodist University and the Manhattan School of Music, Ms. Clayton was an apprentice artist for Santa Fe Opera and a member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio. Her awards include a Sullivan Award, and she was a finalist at the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions. A native of Arkansas, Ms. Clayton resides in Santa Fe and New York and studies with Patricia McCaffrey.
Beth Clayton Reviews:
“Quite simply,I think this is the best orchestral recording yet to come from Keith Johnson.” —John Atkinson, STEREOPHILE
“…the most important Bernstein recording since Lenny’s own. And of course, sonics are state of the art. Terrific.” —David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday
“It is clearly one of the finest recordings I have ever heard.“ – Al Fasoldt, FANFARE