One of the brightest stars on stages in the US and abroad, charismatic soprano Harolyn Blackwell has been hailed by audiences and critics alike as a “model of agility, spunk, charm and silvery tone.” Recognized for her expressive and exuberant performances, as well as for her radiant voice, she is making a wide and varied career on opera, concert and recital stages of the world.
Following study at The Catholic University of America in her native Washington, D.C., Miss Blackwell’s performing career began on the Broadway stage in Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. The transition from musical theater to opera occurred shortly afterwards, when she was selected as a finalist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Since that time, the soprano has performed with many of the major national and international opera companies and at festivals around the world, including Lyric Opera of Chicago, Glyndebourne Festival, Teatro Colon de Buenos Aires, San Francisco Opera, Netherlands Opera, Seattle Opera, Opéra de Nice, Miami Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Aix-en-Provence Festival, Opera Orchestra of New York, New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival, and the Ravinia Festival, among others. At the Metropolitan Opera, she has appeared in several productions, including La Fille du Régiment, Un Ballo in Maschera, Le Nozze di Figaro, Manon, Die Fledermaus, and Werther. Additional roles performed to date on other stages have included Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor), Lakmé (Lakmé), Gilda (Rigoletto), Nannetta (Falstaff), Norina (Don Pasquale), Giulietta (I Capuleti e i Montecchi), Zdenka (Arabella), and Constance (Les Dialogues des Carmélites). Miss Blackwell also starred in the Broadway Revival of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide as Cunégonde.
Miss Blackwell’s operatic and symphonic engagements have included appearances under the batons of renowned conductors such as Herbert Blomstedt, James Conlon, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Charles Dutoit, Erich Kunzel, Yoel Levi, James Levine, Andrew Litton, Zdenek Macal, Kurt Masur, Trevor Pinnock, André Previn, Simon Rattle, Gerard Schwarz, Leonard Slatkin, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and David Zinman.
She has appeared with many of the most distinguished orchestras in the United States and abroad including the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Pops, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the Memphis Symphony, the Naples Philharmonic, and the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. Internationally, she has appeared with the NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic, and L’Orchestre National de Lyon, among many others.
An engaging, exciting and communicative recitalist, Miss Blackwell has sung in several important recital series: London’s Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall (as part of their “Great Singers” series), New York’s Town Hall, The Washington Performing Arts Recital Series at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., The Library Of Congress Recital Series, The Supreme Court Concert Series, The Ambassador Foundation Performing Arts Series in Los Angeles, San Francisco Performances at The Herbst Theatre, The George London Foundation Recital Series, and The Concert Series at The Morgan Library in New York City.
Miss Blackwell has appeared in a remarkable number of national telecasts: The Met’s Un Ballo in Maschera; The Grammy Awards (The New York Times’ Alan Kozinn called her Summertime “melting”); and I Hear America Singing on PBS. Her performance of Blondchen in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail in the Aix-en-Provence Festival as well as her performance of Haydn’s Die Schöpfung for Pope John Paul II on his 80th Birthday was telecast throughout Europe. The soprano has been seen on numerous broadcasts from Washington, D.C., which aired on PBS, including: The 25th Anniversary Salute to the Kennedy Center; The Annual Memorial Day Concert from the Capitol steps; several Fourth of July Concerts from the Capitol Mall, which have celebrated Gershwin and Bernstein; NBC’s Christmas In Washington and CBS’s Kennedy Center Honors.
To date, Miss Blackwell’s recordings include the role of Clara in the Glyndebourne Festival’s Porgy and Bess (EMI); Cunégonde in the Broadway cast album of Candide (RCA-Victor), The London Symphony Orchestra’s Ein Deutsches Requiem (LS0), three solo albums: Strange Hurt (RCA-Victor), Blackwell Sings Bernstein (RCA-Victor), and All Through The Night. She is also featured on: Selections from Porgy and Bess (Telarc); The Canadian Brass: Noel (RCA-Victor); and Sondheim: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall (RCA-Victor).
Miss Blackwell is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, one of which afforded her the opportunity to study and work in Italy with Renata Tebaldi and Carlo Bergonzi, two of the greatest artists of our era. Others include the Baltimore Opera’s Puccini Foundation Award; the WGN-Illinois Opera Guild’s “Audition of the Air”; two career grants from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation; Artist of the Year from The Seattle Opera, Alumna of the Year Award from her Alma Mater, The Catholic University of America; an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Siena College; an Honorary Doctorate of Music from George Washington University and most recently, The Norman Vincent Peale Arts Award.
As an advocate for Arts Education, Miss Blackwell is a Board Member of The Metropolitan Opera Guild, The Voice Foundation, The Martina Arroyo Foundation, The George London Foundation and The Morgan Library. She is a member of The Artists Committee for The Kennedy Center Honors and has also served on the Artists Selection Committee for The Marian Anderson Competition and The NEA Awards.