Susan Larson Soprano

Helicon Performances

Symposium 27 - SCHUMANN

The American soprano, Susan Larson, started singing at her mother's knee and performing in school musicals as a moppet. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music from Indiana University in 1965, and received a Master of Music from the New England Conservatory in 1969.

Susan Larson began singing professionally in the Boston area, both in opera oratorio and recitals, and with Emmanuel Music at Emmanuel Church, famous for its weekly Bach Cantatas and chamber music series. She started teaching about this time also. She sang with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Bach Festival, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Ravinia Festival, Bethlehem Bach Festival, Monadnock Music Festival, Pepsico SummerFare Festival, Theater der Welt Festival, Basl City Theater, and elsewhere. She did early and contemporary music, cabaret and musical comedy at the American Repertory Theater. She won an award for Best Actress in a Musical for her work in ART's The Boys from Syracuse. With her friends in the Liederkreis Ensemble, a vocal quartet plus piano, she won the Naumberg Award for Chamber music in 1980 (or 1979).

In the 1980’s and into the 1990’s, Susan Larson worked with the Peter Sellars ensemble, doing his productions in New York, Chicago, Boston, Barcelona, Stuttgart, Paris, Berlin and Vienna. She went to Moscow and sang at the Bolshoi with Sarah Caldwell's Opera Company of Boston. Creer highlights include: Peter Sellars production of Mozart's Don Giovanni, Manchester NH 1980, role of Donna Elvira; Peter Sellars production of George Frideric Handel's Saul, 1981, role of Michal; American Repertory Theater, G.F. Handel's Orlando, 1982, role of Dorinda; American Repertory Theater, Rodgers & Hart's The Boys from Syracuse, 1983 (Best Actress in a Musical, Boston Theatre Critics Circle); Theater der Welt prize awarded for Sellars' production of Così fan tutte 1989; Opera Company of Boston, Robert DiDomenica's The Balcony (role of Carmen), in Boston and at the Bolsoi in Moscow. She participated in the prmierres of Mirabai Songs by John Harbison, On This Most Voluptuous Night by Yehudi Wyner, and Carmen, in Robert DiDomenica's operatic adaptation of Jean Genet's The Balcony, with the Opera Company of Boston (1990).

In 1994 Susan Larson stopped singing professionally for health reasons. She discovered she had a paretic vocal fold, probably caused by a viral infection. Her allergies and asthma also gave her grief, but they had one benefit; they made her an expert on vocal health and fitness. She learned how to sing efficiently and optimally even when she was under the weather. But she had risen from her deathbed to sing if she could get away with it. She had had a pretty good run as a performer, and although she still sings for recreation, her health is no longer reliable enough to hold up under the stresses of professional life. She worked for six years as a music writer for the Boston Globe and elsewhere, and taught for four years at the University of New Hampshire, also giving master-classes and seminars around New England, and maintaining her home studio. Quitting the professional whirl made her concentrate her busy little mind on voice teaching. She continues to read scads of current literature on vocal health and the physics and physiology of voice. She has become, in fact, a Voice Geek. She too, is also still learning more about voice, about music and about good supportive teaching.

Recordings: London Records CD’s of Così fan tutte (as Fiordiligi), Le nozze di Figaro (as Cherubino), and Giulio Cesare in Egitto as Cleopatra; Liebeslieder Waltzer (Johannes Brahms) with Liederkreis Quartet; A Samuel Chapter (John Harbison); Emmanuel Music, Heinrich Schütz motets. The Sellars productions were made into movies, which aired on American TV and are still available on DVD: Chrubino in Le nozze di Figaro (1990); Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare in Egitto (1990); Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte (1990).