Birth: Oct 24, 1955 in Midland, MI
Cheryl Studer's repertoire is among the widest-ranging of those of any soprano, ranging from the Baroque to the twentieth century; her roles include Violetta (La Traviata), Die Kaiserin in Die Frau ohne Schatten, Odabella in Verdi's Attila, the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, Floyd's Susannah, and nearly all of the lyric Wagner roles: Elizabeth (Tannhauser), Elsa (Lohengrin), Freia (Das Rheingold), and Sieglinde (Die Walkure). She has also explored the art song repertory extensively; in all these things, she has applied a strong sense of musicianship and period style.
Born in Midland, Michigan, Studer took up music at an early age with piano and viola studies. She attended high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy and did her college studies at the Oberlin Conservatory and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She first gained recognition during three summers at the Tanglewood festival, where both Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa expressed admiration for her singing; Ozawa, in fact, engaged her for several BSO concerts during the 1978-79 season. In 1977 she also won the High Fidelity/Musical America award, and in 1978 the Metropolitan Opera Auditions.
In 1979 Studer went to Europe to continue her studies, with, among others, Hans Hotter. There she made her opera debut at the Bavarian State Opera in 1980 as the First Lady in Mozart's The Magic Flute. She sang with various other theaters in Germany, including Bayreuth, where she made her debut as Freia in 1985. Her United States debut was in 1984 as Micaela in Carmen at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. In 1987, she returned to Bayreuth to sing Elsa, which brought her to international fame. Her La Scala debut was the next year as Mathilde in Rossini's William Tell, and her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1990 was as Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni. During the late 1990s, she had a period of vocal problems that led to the Bavarian State Opera canceling her contracts, but after a brief time off the stage, her performances indicated a return to form.
The Sawallisch recording of Strauss' Die Frau Ohne Schatten shows her at her best, with a warm, lyrical tone that still has the necessary carrying power for the difficult role of the Empress.
- Anne Feeney (All Music Guide)
Cheryl Studer was born in Midland, Michigan. At a very young age, she began studying the piano and the viola. At the age of twelve, after listening to the album "La Callas a Paris", she decided that she wanted to be an opera singer and started voice lessons in her hometown with Mrs. Gwendolyn Pike. She spent her senior high school years at Interlochen Arts Academy, before studying for one year at Oberlin Conservatory, near Cleveland, Ohio. She then moved with her family to Tennessee, where she continued her studies at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
Her promising talent caught Leonard Berstein's attention and he offered her full scholarships to study for three consecutive summers at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood (1975 to 1977), where she studied with Phyllis Curtin. She debuted at Tanglewood in 1976 in Bach's St. Matthew Passion with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa, who invited her for a series of concerts with the BSO at Symphony Hall during the 1978-1979 season.
In the summer of 1979, she went to the Schubert Institute in Baden bei Wien, Austria, where she attended a course for foreign students on the art of the German Lied. Among her teachers at that summer institute were Irmgard Seefried, Brigitte Fassbaender and Hans Hotter. The great baritone persuaded Cheryl Studer to stay in Europe for the year and study with him at the Hochschule fur Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna.
After a year in Vienna, and at Hans Hotter's urging, Cheryl Studer auditioned for Wolfgang Sawallisch who hired her as a permanent member of the Bavarian State Opera, where she spent two consecutive seasons. At the end of the 1981-82 season, she left the Munich ensemble to join the Staatstheater Darmstadt for two seasons, before going to Berlin to be part of the Deutsche Oper ensemble for the 1984-85 and 1985-86 seasons.
She sang her first big role (Violetta) as a guest artist at the Staatstheater Braunschweig in the spring of 1983. In the summer of that same year, the Bayerische Staatsoper called her to their Summer Festival to sing Irene (Rienzi) and Drola (Die Feen), under Maestro Sawallisch (both released on CD by Orfeo).
She made her North American opera debut in the role of Micaela (Carmen) in 1984 for the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
She caught the world's attention for the first time at the 1985 Bayreuth Festival, when the sang Elisabeth (Tannhauser) under Giuseppe Sinopoli.
Since then, she has sung in the most prestigious houses in the world: Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona (debut in 1986 in Das Rheingold as Freia), Opera de Paris (debut the same year in Die Zauberflote as Pamina), San Francisco Opera (debut in Die Meistersinger as Eva, also in 1986), Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (debut in 1987 in Tannhauser as Elisabeth), La Scala (operatic debut in Don Giovanni as Donna Anna in 1987), New York Metropolitan Opera (debut in 1988 in Carmen as Micaela), Vienna State Opera (debut in Elektra as Chrysothemis in 1989). She debuted at the Salzburg Summer Festival that same year and in the same role.
Her repertoire reveals a soprano of exceptional versatility, perhaps not encountered since the great Lilly Lehmann: from Mozart's Queen of the Night, Donna Anna and Countess Almaviva, to Wagner's Sieglinde, Elisabeth and Elsa, from Rossini's Mathilde and Semiramide to Donizetti's Lucia, from Verdi's Odabella and Violetta to Gounod's Marguerite and the great heroines of Richard Strauss, Cheryl Studer's repertoire encompasses more than 70 roles.
In addition to her appearances in the most renowned opera houses of the world, Cheryl Studer has never forgotten her first love: the Lied. Although she has been singing Lieder since her early years, she made her first big European tour in 1992; ever since, she has been giving Lieder recitals in many European cities, as well as in the USA and the Far East. Although an acclaimed interpreter of the great Germanic Lieder composers (in particular Schubert, Brahms, Mahler, Strauss and Hugo Wolf), she also loves Debussy's Ariettes oubliees and Samuel Barber's songs.
Cheryl Studer also appears regularly as a concert soloist with the world's most famous orchestras: the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the London Symphony, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw, the Boston Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, to name but a few. Her concert repertoire includes Beethoven's Missa solemnis, Mozart's concert arias, Verdi's Requiem, Wagner's Wesendonk-Lieder and Strauss's Vier letzte Lieder, as well as other orchestral Lieder.
For her third summer's work as a Vocal Fellow of the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, Cheryl Studer won the 1977 High Fidelity/Musical America Prize. The following year, she competed in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions Finals and won the Mrs. Frederick A. Stoughton Award. In 1979, she won the Franz-Schubert-Institut-Preis for excellence in Lied interpretation. She received the Grand Prix du Disque - Prix Maria Callas, in 1989. Cheryl Studer was particularly honoured to be chosen by an international jury as the first recipient of the International Classical Music Award in 1993 (London) in the category Best Female Singer of the Year; in the same year, she also received the Wilhelm Furtwangler Prize. One year later, she was chosen as Musical America's Vocalist of the Year (1994).
A great many recordings featuring Cheryl Studer have also received numerous prizes, awards and distinctions. Among others: Tannhauser (Elisabeth - DG - G. Sinopoli): Gran Premio del disco Ritmo, Orphee d'Or, CD Compact, Diapason d'Or; Attila (Odabella - EMI - R. Muti): Diapason d'Or, Prix de l'Academie Charles Cros, L'Opera-Citta di Mondovi, Musica Viva; Salome (Salome - DG - G. Sinopoli): Stella d'Argento, Diapason d'Or, Grand Prix de la Nouvelle Academie du disque, Edison Award, Orphee d'Or; Faust (Marguerite - EMI - M. Plasson): Diapason d'Or, 10 de Repertoire, Choc du Monde de la Musique, FFFF de Telerama, Orphee d'Or de l'Academie du disque lyrique, Prix de l'Academie Charles Cros, Grand Prix de la Nouvelle Academie du disque, Classic CD 5-Star Award; Lohengrin (Elsa - DG - C. Abbado): FFFF de Telerama, 10 de Repertoirte, Timbre de platine d'Opera international, Outstanding from BBC Music Magazine; Samuel Barber's Complete Songs (With Thomas Hampson - DG - John Browning, piano): Caecilia Prijs, Diapason d'Or, 10 de Repertoire, First Cannes Classical Awards, Vocal Recital, XIX/XX centuries category, Hilary Finch's Record of the Year (BBC Music Magazine), Gramophone Awards, Solo Vocal category; Susannah (Title role - Virgin Classics - K. Nagano): Grammy Award; Herodiade (Salome - EMI - M. Plasson): Choc du Monde de la Musique, Diapason d'Or.