Sarah Connolly

Mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly after a recital at Clayton State University's Spivey Hall in 2017.

Dame Sarah Patricia Connolly DBE (born 13 June 1963)[1] is an English mezzo-soprano. Although best known for her baroque and classical roles, Connolly has a wide-ranging repertoire which has included works by Wagner as well as various 20th-century composers. She was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours[2] and a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to music.[3]


Connolly was born in County Durham and educated at Queen Margaret's School, York, Clarendon College in Nottingham and then studied piano and singing at the Royal College of Music, of which she is now a Fellow. She then became a member of the BBC Singers for five years.[4][5]


Connolly's interest in opera and a full-time career in classical music began after she left the BBC Singers. She began her opera career in the role of Annina (Der Rosenkavalier) in 1994.[6] Her breakthrough role was as Xerxes in the 1998 English National Opera production of Handel's Serse (Xerxes), directed by Nicholas Hytner.

In 2005, she sang the title role in Handel's Giulio Cesare for Glyndebourne Festival Opera. The DVD of the production, directed by David McVicar, won a Gramophone Award.[4][7] Singing the part of Sesto in McVicar's production of La Clemenza di Tito for English National Opera in 2006, Connolly was nominated for an Olivier Award. Her 2005 debut at the Metropolitan Opera was in the same opera, but in the role of Annio.[citation needed]

In 2009, she sang (in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas) at Teatro alla Scala and made her debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Dido in the same opera.[8] In 2010, she made her role debut of "Der Komponist" in Ariadne auf Naxos at the Metropolitan Opera. She was awarded the 2011 Distinguished Musician Award from the Incorporated Society of Musicians.[9] For her recital at Alice Tully Hall in New York, Connolly received a rave review in The New York Times.[10]

She made her debut as ("Fricka") in Wagner's Der Ring (Royal Opera House)[11] and earlier that year she sang Phèdre in Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie (Paris Opéra at the Palais Garniér). Connolly reprised Phèdre for Glyndebourne Festival Opera in a production by Jonathan Kent 2013, conducted by William Christie.[citation needed]

Connolly won the Silver Lyre 2012 from the Royal Philharmonic Society for Best Solo Singer[12] and was nominated in the Best Female Singer category in the inaugural International Opera Awards held in London in 2013, and she was the recipient of the 2013 Most Outstanding Achievement in a Main Role for WhatsOnStage Opera Poll as Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier with English National Opera.[13]

During the 2011 Gustav Mahler celebrations, Connolly performed all of his vocal works in the UK and abroad with the Philharmonia and Maazel, the LPO and Jurowski and Nezet Séguin, the LSO with Alsop, the OAE with Rattle and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Chailly. She sang in the opening concert of the BBC Promenade Concerts of 2012, televised from the Royal Albert Hall, also performing Tippett's A Child of our Time later in the series. She is committed to promoting new music; her performances include Sir John Tavener's Tribute to Cavafy at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham and his film music to Children of Men.[citation needed]

Connolly made the first commercial recording of Mark-Anthony Turnage's Twice Through the Heart with Marin Alsop and the London Philharmonic Orchestra having previously given the Belgian and Dutch premieres of the work with the Schoenberg Ensemble conducted by Oliver Knussen.[citation needed] She sang the role of Susie in the premiere production of Turnage's opera The Silver Tassie at English National Opera in 2000,[14][15]

Connolly's other commercial recordings include Schumann lieder with Eugene Asti for Chandos, "Songs of Love and Loss",[16] Korngold lieder with Iain Burnside, the Duruflé Requiem for Signum and Purcell's Dido and Aeneas with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment[17] for which she raised the funds and selected the cast for the recording.[4]

In September 2009, Connolly made her first appearance as a guest soloist at The Last Night of the Proms, singing Rule, Britannia! while wearing a replica Royal Navy uniform of Lord Nelson.[18]

She was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree by Nottingham Trent University in 2017.[19]

In July 2019 she announced temporary leave to undergo breast cancer surgery withdrawing from upcoming performances in BBC Proms and Orpheus and Eurydice with English National Opera.[20][21]

Personal lifeEdit

Connolly lives with her husband and their daughter in Gloucestershire.[4][5] She publicly opposes Brexit.[22][23]

Operatic rolesEdit

Royal Opera HouseEdit

George Enescu
Henry Purcell
Richard Wagner

Welsh National OperaEdit

Richard Strauss

Opera NorthEdit

Gaetano Donizetti
Vincenzo Bellini

English National OperaEdit

Vincenzo Bellini
Alban Berg
Hector Berlioz
Benjamin Britten
Marc-Antoine Charpentier
George Frideric Handel
Claudio Monteverdi
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Henry Purcell
Richard Strauss
Mark-Anthony Turnage

Scottish OperaEdit

Glyndebourne Festival OperaEdit

Opéra National de ParisEdit

La Scala, MilanEdit

Maggio Musicale, FlorenceEdit

La Monnaie, BrusselsEdit

De Nederlandse OperaEdit


Liceu, BarcelonaEdit


Festival d'Aix-en-ProvenceEdit


Bavarian State Opera, MunichEdit

Bayreuth FestivalEdit

Richard Wagner

Festspielhaus Baden-BadenEdit

Richard Wagner

Vienna State OperaEdit

George Frideric Handel

Roles in the United StatesEdit

New York City Opera
Metropolitan Opera
San Francisco Opera


Recordings include:


  1. ^ Tomorrow's birthdays, The Guardian, 12 June 2010
  2. ^ "No. 59282". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2009. p. 7.
  3. ^ "No. 61962". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2017. p. B7.
  4. ^ a b c d Erica Jeal (10 October 2008). "Who wears the trousers?". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
  5. ^ a b Neil Fisher (19 May 2009). "Sarah Connolly: The diva who wears the trousers". The Times. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
  6. ^ Ivan Hewett (21 September 2004). "Diva who dies for a living". Telegraph. Retrieved 23 May 2007.
  7. ^ Hugh Canning (6 February 2005). "Sarah Connolly – stardom beckons". The Times. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
  8. ^ Erica Jeal (2 April 2009). "Dido and Aeneas; Acis and Galatea (Royal Opera House, London)". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
  9. ^ "ISM celebrates singer Sarah Connolly". ISM Music Journal. January–February 2012. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013.
  10. ^ Woolfe, Zachary (15 April 2011). "A Mezzo Keeps It Simple, and Makes It Profound". The New York Times.
  11. ^ "Sarah Connolly in Der Ring". Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  12. ^ "Connolly wins Silver Lyre 2012". 14 May 2013.
  13. ^ "Winners of the Opera Poll 2013 announced". 24 February 2013.
  14. ^ Michael Billington (18 February 2000). "Triumph from the trenches". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
  15. ^ Edward Greenfield (12 July 2002). "Turnage, The Silver Tassie". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
  16. ^ Tim Ashley (14 November 2008). "Classical review: Schumann: Frauenliebe Frauenliebe und -leben; Liederkreis Op 39, etc; Connolly/Asti". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
  17. ^ Tim Ashley (13 February 2009). "Purcell: Dido & Aeneas; Connolly/ Bardon/ Finley/ OAE/ Devine/ Kenny". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
  18. ^ Richard Morrison (14 September 2009). "Proms 73–76: Last Night of the Proms at the Albert Hall/ BBC TV/ Radio 3". The Times. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
  19. ^ Jon Pritchard (4 July 2017). "Sports stars and artists among those to be honoured by Nottingham Trent University". Nottingham Post. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  20. ^ Savage, Mark (18 July 2019). "Singer Dame Sarah Connolly pulls out of the Proms". BBC.
  21. ^ Sanderson, David (18 July 2019). "Opera star Dame Sarah Connolly pulls out of Proms after cancer diagnosis". The Times.
  22. ^ Connolly, Sarah (14 November 2018). "Why we stand to lose our leading place on the world stage". JDCMB. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  23. ^ Jackson, Claire (13 February 2019). "Why travelling musicians are worried about a no-deal Brexit". The Big Issue.
  24. ^
  25. ^ Tim Ashley (10 February 2006). "Sarah Connolly – The Exquisite Hour". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 May 2007.

External linksEdit


Interviews & ArticlesEdit


  • Rule, Britannia! on YouTube [Sarah Connolly (mezzo-soprano), wearing a naval uniform like those worn in the age of Nelson sings Arne's "Rule, Britannia!" during Last Night of the Proms 2009, inside the Royal Albert Hall. BBC SO's David Robertson conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Chorus. Although "Rule, Britannia!" had long been a fixture of the last night, this was the first time Arne's original version had been performed there.]