Mary Elizabeth Williams
Based permanently in Europe, American soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams’ Season 2017-18 begins with her debut as Desdemona Otello with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. She travels to Germany to sing the role of Elisabetta Maria Stuarda at Deutsche Oper am Rhein and joins Welsh National Opera to appear as Leonora La Forza del Destino and in the title role Tosca with performances across the UK. For her debut at Opera de Lille, the artist revisits one of her signature roles, Abigaille Nabucco, and she returns to the US to Seattle Opera to revive the role of Serena Porgy and Bess, which she sang last season at La Scala, Milan.
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Opéra de Lille, Nabucco
May 2018 Mary
It is with fury that Mary Elizabeth Williams embodies the illegitimate daughter of the king of Babylon, Abigaille...From her recitative to the jumps of vertiginous intervals, to her cantilene with delicate adornments followed by a warlike cabalette, the firm timbre of the soprano imposes itself with a strong determination and an asserted charisma that the artist uses to mock her interlocutors in the many ensembles which intervene, and impose her supremacy on Babylon as on stage.
ResMusica, Charlotte Saulneron, 22 May 2018
Mary Elizabeth Williams impresses: she has the breath, the phrasing, the agility of Abigaille...
Diapason, Didier Van Moere, 18 May 2018
Vocally, she assumes the vertiginous leap of notes leading from one extreme to the other in the immense scope of her role.
Olyrix, Damien Dutilleul, 17 May 2018
Welsh National Opera, La forza del destino
Mary Elizabeth Williams captures beautifully and with vibrant tone Leonora’s emotional indecisiveness that is the trigger for the whole ludicrous farrago.
The Arts Desk, Stephen Walsh, 3 February 2018
Mary Elizabeth Williams' Leonora...sung with wonderfully even tone and dynamic control...
The Guardian, Andrew Clements, 4 February 2018
As the opera’s hard-pressed heroine, Mary Elizabeth Williams brings flexibility and imagination to her vocal performance...
The Stage, George Hall, 13 February 2018
Mary Elizabeth Williams is outstanding, exciting horrified sympathy with an exquisitely sung Leonora...
The Independent, Steph Power, 12 February 2018
With her rich, intense soprano, Mary Elizabeth Williams wrung every ounce of tragedy from Leonora's troubled life. Hers was a stellar performance.
What's on Stage, Mark Valencia, 12 February 2018
She is a most sympathetic performer and her soft singing in her three arias is truly lovely...
The Telegraph, Rupert Christiansen, 3 February 2018
Mary Elizabeth Williams, soon to be heard as WNO’s Tosca, is a magnificent Leonora, conveying both uncertainty and passion in the opening scene, with a broad, sweeping legato in the great prayer of act 2, and rising to a sublime, quiet top in her final plea for peace.
British Theatre Guide, Colin Davison, 2 February 2018
Mary Elizabeth Williams' dramatic spinto made for a vibrant Leonora...she's a gutsy singer with more than a hint of Renata Tebaldi about her.
Bachtrack, Mark Pullinger, 2 February 2018
Mary Elizabeth Williams brought out Leonora's neurotic obsessive behaviour. She was nervy in Act One and grew positively manic as the opera progressed. It was a powerful performance which made sense of the character rather than leaving it to fate. Williams has a lovely fluid voice, plenty of gorgeous line in Verdi's challenging vocal writing...she gave us some quiet, intense singing and spun a lovely line.
Planet Hugill, Robert Hugill, 12 February 2018
She is tremendous. A warm sensuous voice with notes of brilliance and dramatic intelligence.
South Wales Argus, Mike Smith, 5 February 2018
Soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams as Donna Leonora was sublime in the role as her tragic destiny unfolds before us. Williams is a Cardiff favourite and her performance showed why.
Morning Star, David Nicholson, 7 February 2018
Mary Elizabeth Williams gave a finely emotional account of Leonora...
Mark Ronan, 11 February 2018
This was, I think, the fifth time I have heard the American soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams with WNO. I have been favourably impressed on each of the four previous occasions, but I think this was finer yet. She sings with disciplined passion and her voice is strong across its range. Her acting seems to be improving all the time. Her interpretations of the text show a real understanding of the poetry she is singing so that in the closing scene she brought me as close to tears in the opera house as I have been for some years.
Seen and Heard International, Glyn Pursglove, 7 February 2018
The roles of Leonora and Don Alvaro were admirably sung, Mary Elizabeth Williams and Gwyn Hughes Jones each taking Verdi's considerable vocal demands in their stride. Williams, while deploying her resources carefully so as to have plenty in reserve for the final scene, spun her cantilena lines with silvery grace, adding expressive colour and volume with refinement. Her voice...she uses it so well and with such dramatic instinct as to be entirely convincing.
Opera Magazine, Rian Evans, March 2018
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Otello
Otello’s wife Desdemona, winningly sung by soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams, a Philadelphia native now living in Italy, who has capacity for both high-powered passion and ability to angelically float the high notes when required.
ArtsAtl, Mark Gresham, 10 October
Greeting Otello in Act One with a radiant ‘Mio superbo guerrier!’ in which Verdi’s ‘sempre dolce’ marking was meticulously heeded, Williams placed the top A♭ with delicacy and certain intonation. In the love duet, she sang exquisitely, phrasing with romantic feeling and maintaining a hypnotic aura of nocturnal ecstasy...The sensuality in Williams’s portrayal gave Desdemona added psychological depth, rendering her a woman who chose to die in preservation of her blamelessness rather than a hapless victim...it was the quality of Williams’s vocalism, utterly right for the music, that made her Desdemona memorable.
Voix des Arts, Joseph Newsome, 8 October
Mary Elizabeth Williams' Operatic Repertoire
Norma (title, Adalgisa)
La Wally (Wally)
Adriana Lecouvreur (title)
Margaret Garner (Cilla)
Amistad (The Goddess of the Waters)
Maria Stuarda (Elisabetta)
Porgy and Bess (Serena, Bess*)
Cavalleria rusticana (Santuzza)
Le Villi (Ann)
Die Fledermaus (Rosalinde)
Der Rosenkavalier (Marianne)
Roles marked with * are currently in preparation
Mary Elizabeth Williams' Concert Repertoire
Les nuits d'été
A Sea Symphony