Samford University

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Elizabeth Futral

American soprano Elizabeth Futral ’85 has established herself as one of the world’s leading sopranos. With her stunning vocalism and vast dramatic range, she has embraced a repertoire that ranges from the Baroque to world premieres.

During the 2013–2014 season Futral explores an array of diverse repertoire. She creates two world premiere roles: Vera Donovan in Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne with the San Francisco Opera, and Alice B. Toklas in Ricky Ian Gordon’s 27 for the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. She will add a Strauss role to her repertoire with Zdenka in Strauss’ Arabella with the Minnesota Opera, as well as return to a repertoire favorite, Lucia di Lammermoor with Portland Opera. American music theatre is featured in her season with a return to the Lyric Opera of Chicago as the Baroness Elsa Schraeder in The Sound of Music, and to the Houston Grand Opera as Desirée Armfeldt in A Little Night Music. With Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, she performs Haydn’s The Creation led by Jane Glover at Chicago’s Harris Theater and the La Jolla Music Society.

Futral sang Marian Paroo in The Music Man at Glimmerglass Opera and the title role of Saariaho’s Emilie for the Lincoln Center Festival during the summer of 2012, both receiving wide critical acclaim. She traveled with Glimmerglass to the Royal Opera House in Muscat, and returned to the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Musetta in La bohème, to the New York Philharmonic for their CONTACT! Series at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Symphony Space, performed Stephen Paulus’ To Be Certain of the Dawn with the Grand Rapids Symphony, performed Bach’s Jauchzet Gott in Allen Landen, BWV 51 and Non sa che sia dolore, BWV 209 with the Washington Bach Consort, and more Bach with Music@Menlo. 

Elizabeth FutralA native of Louisiana, Futral studied with Virginia Zeani at Indiana University. She joined the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, won the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions in 1991 and was catapulted to stardom with critically acclaimed performances of Delibes’ Lakmé at the New York City Opera in 1994. Career milestones soon followed, cementing her star status: a win in Placido Domingo’s Operalia Competition, the title role in Rossini’s Matilde di Shabran in Pesaro, her debut at the San Francisco Opera as Stella in the world premiere of André Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire and her Metropolitan Opera debut in a new production of Lucia di Lammermoor.

Since that time, she has returned to the Metropolitan Opera as Princess Eudoxie in a new production of La Juive, Princess Yeuyang in the world premiere of Tan Dun’s The First Emperor, Elvira in I Puritani and additional performances of Lucia. With the Lyric Opera of Chicago, she has sung a vast range of roles, including Cunegonde in Candide, Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Handel’s Partenope, La Traviata and The Merry Widow. She has notable relationships with the Washington, Houston, Santa Fe, Los Angeles, New York City, Vancouver and Minnesota opera companies. Internationally, she has been heard at the Royal Opera Covent Garden, the Bayerische Staatsoper, the Staatsoper and Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Theater an der Wien, the Grand Theatre de Genève, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, and Hamburg Staatsoper.

Futral debuted with the New York Philharmonic in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 under Zubin Mehta, and has returned there for Handel’s Messiah with Sir Neville Marriner and Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio with Sir Colin Davis. Other orchestral highlights include Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini with Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony, To Be Certain of the Dawn with Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra, the Brahms Requiem with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, arias and duets with Placido Domingo and the Chicago Symphony led by Daniel Barenboim, and a New Year’s Eve gala with Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic.

In demand for contemporary repertoire, Futral has sung the world premieres of Andre Previn’s Brief Encounter at the Houston Grand Opera, Philip Glass’s Orphée for the American Repertory Theatre, Ricky Ian Gordon’s Orpheus and Euridice for Great Performers at Lincoln Center, Dominic Argento’s Evensong: Of Love and Angels at the National Cathedral, and Stephen Paulus’ Three Poems of Dylan Thomas with the Tucson Symphony. Other notable performances include concerts and recording of Paulus’ To Be Certain of the Dawn with the Minnesota Orchestra and Osma Vänskä, Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Grapes of Wrath at Carnegie Hall, and Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men at the Houston Grand Opera. 

Futral’s most recent recording release is Colors of Feeling—Music of Philip Lasser, which followed Previn’s Brief Encounter on Deutsche Grammophon. Other operatic recordings include A Streetcar Named Desire and Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges for Deutsche Grammophon, Rossini’s Otello and Zelmira, Pacini’s Carlo di Borgogna for Opera Rara, Lucia di Lammermoor for Chandos as part of their “Opera in English” series, Of Mice and Men on Albany Records, Six Characters in Search of an Author on New World Records, and Philip Glass’s chamber opera Hydrogen Jukebox for Euphorbia Records.

Additional recordings include a solo aria recital for Chandos’s Opera in English series, Mozart The Supreme Decorator, a collection of arias by Mozart and CPE Bach on Opera Rara, Sweethearts, a collection of operetta favorites on Newport Classics, Solo Bach Cantatas with the Washington Bach Consort for Lyrichord Discs, Argento’s Evensong with the Cathedral Choral Society for Gothic Records, Paulus’ To Be Certain of the Dawn on BIS records, and Ricky Ian Gordon’s Orpheus and Euridice.

Futral appears as Elvira in Kasper Holten’s film Juan a modern retelling of Don Giovanni. Other DVD releases include Tan Dun’s The First Emperor on EMI and A Streetcar Named Desire on Image Entertainment.

Learn more about Samford University’s centennial coeducation honorees.

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