Artist in Focus: Hilary Summers

19 February 2024

This week’s #RAArtistinFocus is contralto Hilary Summers! Specialising in baroque and contemporary rep, she has appeared at Teatro alla Scala, Vienna Staatsoper, Teatro Real, Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, Royal Opera House amongst others, and is currently singing Leonora Palma in Thomas Adès’ The Exterminating Angel at Opéra Bastille.


In 2018, Hilary created the role of Nell in Gyorgy Kurtag’s Fin de Partie at La Scala to great critical acclaim, and has gone on to reprise the role for premieres at the Dutch National Opera, Opera National de Paris, Palau de les Arts Valencia, De Vlaamse Opera and the UK premiere at the 2023 BBC Proms with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Ryan Wigglesworth.


Hilary has had many collaborations with Michael Nyman, allowing her to dabble in film music and singing solo on several of his soundtracks as well as Howard Shore’s “The Fellowship of the Ring” and Joby Talbot’s “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. Listen to the original demo recording of the title song here.


Amongst Hilary’s 40+ recordings are a Grammy winning disc of her friend Pierre Boulez’s masterwork: ‘Le marteau sans maitre’, a piece she’s performed over 20 times internationally.
Hilary’s most recent disc with the Dudok Quartet, ‘Dinogad’s Circus’, praises her ‘unconventional but highly expressive three-octave range’ (BBC Music Magazine)


Check out Hilary's’ website ( for a lot of entertainment, such as the videos in Cave of Curiosities.
Have you seen?: her programme ‘What’s so great about opera’ with Andrew West, a hilarious romp through the highs and lows of Opera:  which appears at the Brighton Festival on 8th May.

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