Marietta Simpson, whose deeply expressive, richly beautiful voice has made her one of the most sought-after mezzo-sopranos today, has sung with major orchestras throughout the United States, under many of the world's greatest conductors, including the late Robert Shaw in her Carnegie Hall debut in 1988 as soloist in Brahms' Alto Rhapsody with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. In summer of 2015 she sang The Old Lady in Bernstein’s Candide with Glimmerglass Opera, and in the 2015-16 season she sings Lucinda in Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain with Opera Philadelphia.
Recently Marietta Simpson sang as soloist in Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion with the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, as Queenie in Showboat with Houston Grand Opera, as soloist in Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra under Carlos-Miguel Prieto, in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, soloist in Messiah with the United States Naval Academy, and in Bruckner’s Te Deum and Tippett’s A Child of Our Time, both with Collegiate Chorale. Other highlights featured her performances as soloist in Messiah at Washington National Cathedral, also Bethel’s First AME Church; in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with Richmond Symphony; in Tippett’s A Child of Our Time with Utah Symphony; Mahler’s Rückert Lieder with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra; Verdi’s Requiem with the Louisville Orchestra; Messiah with Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, also Detroit Symphony; Mendelssohn’s Die Erste Walpurgisnacht and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, both with Alabama Symphony; an appearance in recital at the Kennedy Center; as soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood under Kurt Masur; and in “Summertime Songs with the Philadelphia Orchestra” at Mann Center for the Performing Arts.
Career successes include Maria in Porgy and Bess in a return to Lyric Opera of Chicago; Hindemith's When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed with Cathedral Choral Society of Washington DC; Verdi's Requiem with Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia; Bach's Cantata No. 78 and Christmas Oratorio, both with Baldwin-Wallace Bach Festival; as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra in an evening of opera arias and spirituals; Verdi's Requiem in a return to Nashville Symphony; a recital with Chamber Music Society of Philadelphia; an evening of spirituals and gospel songs, and Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, both with Singing City in Philadelphia; Verdi's Requiem and Donald McCollough's Let My People Go, both with the Master Chorale of Washington; Maria in Porgy and Bess for Washington National Opera, Opera Birmingham, Los Angeles Opera and Opera Pacific; the role of Dominga de Adviento in the world premiere of Peter Eotvos's opera, Love and Other Demons, with Glyndebourne Festival Opera; and Messiah with both the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Nashville Symphony Orchestra.
As a concert artist, Marietta Simpson made her New York Philharmonic debut under Kurt Masur in Mendelssohn's Elijah, followed by performances of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis and Symphony No. 9, and Bach's St. John Passion, also under Masur. She sang in Carnegie Hall's commemoration of the 250th anniversary of Messiah, and performed Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, under Zdenek Macal, for the inauguration of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. Both events were nationally televised. She toured in Poland, Germany and Russia with Helmuth Rilling and the Stuttgart Bachakadamie Orchestra and Chorus, and has sung at the Prague and Brno Festivals, as well as many festivals in the United States, including Grant Park, Ojai, and at the Mann Music Center.
Among Ms. Simpson's concert highlights are her performances of Handel's Messiah with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra under Nicholas McGegan, and with Lyric Opera of Chicago; Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim; and Szymanowski's Stabat Mater in a debut with the Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, which she also reprised under Rattle with the Berlin Philharmonic. She has also sung Mozart's Requiem with St. Louis Symphony under David Robertson; Elgar's Sea Pictures with Louisville Orchestra under Raymond Leppard; Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with Phoenix Symphony under Michael Christie; Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with Greater Pensacola Symphony; and the world premiere of a new work entitled The Thread,composed by J. Mark Scearce to text by Toni Morrison, with Nashville Chamber Orchestra.
On the operatic stage, Ms. Simpson made her debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago singing the role of Addie in Marc Blitzstein's opera Regina, a role which she later reprised at both the Kennedy Center and Bard SummerScape Festival; and her debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in Trevor Nunn's production of Porgy and Bess, which was filmed for British television. She has also toured Europe with Lorin Maazel and the Pittsburgh Symphony in concert performances of Porgy and Bess. She was a member of the Houston Opera Studio for several seasons, has sung roles with Mobile and Minnesota Operas, and New York City Opera.
Ms. Simpson can be seen on Video Artists International's complete version of Handel's Messiah with Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, shown seasonally on PBS television. She has recorded Vivaldi's Gloria, Bach's Magnificat, Schubert Masses No. 2 and No. 6, Beethoven's Mass in C, Bach's B Minor Mass, Janacek's Glagolitic Mass, Mahler's Symphony No. 8, and both Dvorák's and Szymanowski's Stabat Mater on the Telarc label, also with Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. She can be heard on the EMI recording of Porgy and Bess, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle; and on the Grammy Award-winning recording of William Bolcom's Songs of Innocence and Experience, with Leonard Slatkin conducting, on the Naxos label.
A native of Philadelphia, Ms. Simpson graduated from Temple University and received her Master's Degree in Music from the State University of New York at Binghamton. She is currently Rudy Professor of Music at the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University (Bloomington).
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