Established as one of the most exciting dramatic sopranos of her generation, the success of Elizabeth Byrne’s first integral performances of the role of Brünnhilde in the new Tim Albery production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle at the Scottish Opera was recognized by a Royal Philharmonic Society Award Nomination. Of her performances, The Scotsman reported “This epic cycle has made a star out of soprano Elizabeth Byrne who has grown both vocally and dramatically into the role of Brünnhilde with electrifying results. She never fails to create a frisson of excitement whenever she appears on stage – a wily and tense heroine whose power is understated but never in doubt.” And of her appearance in Die Walküre at the Edinburgh Festival, Paul Griffiths of The New York Times wrote that “Ms. Byrne has a voice of flame and accuracy, the voice of a young person keenly in tune with herself, quick and 100 percent in her emotional responses. She also had vitality in her stage presence.”
Particularly suited to the German repertoire Ms. Byrne has been seen as Senta in Der fliegende Holländer with Portland Opera, Arizona Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro James Levine. In operas from Wagner’s Ring Cycle she has been seen as Brünnhilde in Siegfried with the Staatstheater Stuttgart, Brünnhilde in Die Walküre at the Austin Lyric Opera, Sieglinde in Die Walküre in concert with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, as well as Gutrune and Gerhilde in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s first complete Ring Cycle conducted by Zubin Mehta. Ms. Byrne has also covered the roles of both Brünnhilde in Die Walküre and Leonora in Fidelio at the Metropolitan Opera, as well as Isolde in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde for San Francisco Opera. Other career highlights include Kostelnièka in Jonathan Miller’s production of Jenůfa and the title role in Salome at Glimmerglass Opera, the Composer in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos with Dallas Opera, and Leonora in Fidelio with the Scottish Opera. At the Metropolitan Opera she has been seen as The Duchess of Parma in Busoni’s Doktor Faust and the Fourth Maid in Elektra and at the Lyric Opera of Chicago she performed the role of the Overseer in the Götz Friedrich production of Elektra and cover Ortrud in Lohengrin. Most recently Ms. Byrne was seen as the Witch in Hansel and Gretel with Indianapolis Opera, after previously having sung the Mother with the Phoenix Symphony. She has also been heard as Fricka in Das Rheingold with Indianapolis Opera, the Mother in Hansel and Gretel with Portland Opera, and Herodias in Salome with Minnesota Opera. In recent seasons she returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago in the production of Elektra and Hansel and Gretel, and the Metropolitan Opera in their production of Die Walküre. Upcoming engagements for 2014 and beyond include Lady Billows in Albert Herring with Indianapolis Opera and Kabanicha in Katya Kabanova with Boston Lyric Opera.
An excellent musician, Elizabeth Byrne is noted for her performances of contemporary operas having sung the world premiere performances of the role of Blanca in James MacMillan’s opera Inés de Castro at the Edinburgh Festival. The work was also performed in Glasgow and in Oporto, Portugal. Jonathan Moore directed the Scottish Opera production, which was broadcast on BBC-TV. In concert, Elizabeth Byrne has performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 at Royal Albert Hall and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 14 at Canada’s National Arts Centre. She made her Avery Fisher Hall debut performing Zemlinsky’s rarely-heard Lyric Symphony with Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra. She has performed the Verdi Requiem with the Alabama Symphony and the Greensboro Symphony, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the symphony orchestras of Utah, Seattle, Richmond, and South Bend Symphony. She has appeared in concert at the Buxton Festival and at the Prague Festival, with the New Seoul Symphony in Korea, the Rochester Philharmonic, the Fort Wayne Symphony and with the Northwest Indiana Symphony. Her first performances of the Liebestod by Richard Strauss were with the Valdosta Symphony.