Elizabeth Atherton


Lyric soprano Elizabeth Atherton is one of Britain’s most versatile and compelling singers performing a wide range of repertoire in both concert and opera. She read Music at Trinity College, Cambridge before studying at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama with Patricia MacMahon and is the winner of numerous prestigious awards and prizes including the Maggie Teyte Prize, the Handel Singing Competition, the WNO Sir John Moores Award and WNO Chris Ball Bursary.

Following her debut as Helena Midsummer Night’s Dream for English Touring Opera, she became an Associate Artist at Welsh National Opera and has sung numerous roles for the company, including Contessa Le Nozze di Figaro, Donna Elvira Don Giovanni, Pamina The Magic Flute, Micaela Carmen, Minerva Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria, Thibault Don Carlos and Young Maiden Moses und Aron. Elizabeth has since become a regular performer at Opera North, where roles have included Governess Turn of the Screw, Fiordiligi Così fan tutte, Micaela, Donna Elvira and Helena. Other opera includes Leonore Fidelio (Longborough Festival Opera), Meni in Thomas Adès’ new opera The Exterminating Angel (Royal Opera House), Micaela (Royal Albert Hall and The O2), Merab Saul, title role Savitri and Kathleen Riders to the Sea (Buxton Festival), Pamina (Grange Park Opera), and she created the leading roles of Eurydice and Medea in the world premières of Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s The Corridor (Aldeburgh, Holland, Southbank and Bregenz Festivals) and The Cure (Aldeburgh Festival, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and Holland Festival) to considerable critical acclaim.

Equally well known as a concert artist, Elizabeth is a frequent performer at the BBC Proms, where she has sung Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music with BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sir Andrew Davis, Verdi Four Sacred Pieces with London Symphony Orchestra under Antonio Pappano, Tippett The Vision of St. Augustine with BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Sir Richard Hickox and Stravinsky Threni with London Sinfonietta under David Atherton. Other highlights include Berg Altenberglieder and Der Wein and Debussy Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien (also released on CD with BBC Music Magazine) with BBCNOW and Thierry Fischer, Boulez Le Soleil des Eaux conducted by the composer with Orchèstre de Paris and BBC Symphony, Britten Les Illuminations with Hong Kong Philharmonic and David Atherton, Messiah with Orchestra Sinfonicà di Milano Giuseppe Verdi under Sir Neville Mariner and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra under Paul McCreesh, Zemlinsky Lyric Symphony and Stravinsky Pulcinella with BBCNOW and Jac van Steen, Beethoven Symphony 9 with Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by both Sir Charles Mackerras and Mikhail Pletnev, Britten War Requiem with Ulster and RTE Orchestras and Jac van Steen, Handel Saul in Boston with Harry Christophers and the Handel and Haydn Society, Britten Spring Symphony with BBCNOW and David Atherton, Penderecki St. Luke Passion with LPO and Vladimir Jurowski and Handel Solomon with Laurence Cummings at the London Handel Festival and in Oslo.

A committed recitalist, Elizabeth has appeared with Malcolm Martineau at the Aldeburgh Festival, Roger Vignoles in Madrid and with Iain Burnside at Wigmore Hall, Leeds Lieder+ Festival and for the BBC Radio 3 Voices series. She has also given recitals at the Purcell Room, St. David’s Hall Cardiff, Kings Place, National Portrait Gallery and Linbury Studio at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. She broadcasts frequently on BBC Radio 3, including Mahler and Strauss Lieder with BBC Symphony and Jiri Belohlàvek, and her discography includes Liszt’s Via Crucis and Missa Choralis (Hyperion), Classic Children’s Songs with Roderick Williams and Iain Burnside (Just Accord), Saul with The Sixteen and Harry Christophers (Coro) and Britten’s On this Island with Malcolm Martineau (Onyx): a “superb account” – The Guardian; “lustrous and dramatic” – The Times.

Elizabeth has also developed a formidable reputation as a proponent of contemporary music and in recent years has given the world premières of works by composers including Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Mark Bowden, Martin Butler, Francisco Coll, Simon Holt and Edward Rushton. She has recorded on the NMC label, including works by Alison Bauld, Diana Burrell and Nicola Lefanu and has performed frequently with the London Sinfonietta.

Recent and future engagements include her return to Opera North as Donna Elvira, her role debut as Gerhilde in Die Walküre in Singapore, Young Maiden in Moses und Aron with Lothar Zagrosek (George Enescu Festival, Bucharest), Barber’s Knoxville with the RLPO/Robert Spano (Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool), Beethoven's 9th Symphony with the BBCSO/Richard Farnes (Dubai Opera House), Strauss's Vier Letzte Lieder with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra (St. Alban's Abbey), Gorecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs with the London Sinfonietta/David Atherton (Royal Festival Hall), Dvorak's Stabat Mater with the Prague Symphony Orchestra/Jac van Steen (Smetana Hall, Prague), Schoenberg's Second String Quartet with the London Sinfonietta (Kings Place) and concerts with the LPO under Vladimir Jurowski, BCMG under Michael Wendeberg, Northern Sinfonia under Jeannette Sorrell and RLPO under David Hill.