Deborah Voigt is increasingly recognized as one of the world’s most versatile singers and one of music’s most endearing personalities. Through her performances and television appearances, she has distinguished herself through the singular power and beauty of her voice, as well as for her captivating stage presence. A leading dramatic soprano, internationally revered for her performances in the operas of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss, she is also celebrated for her portrayals of some of the greatest heroines of Italian opera. An active recitalist and performer of Broadway standards and popular songs, Voigt has an extensive discography, and has given many enthusiastically received masterclasses. She also appears regularly, as both performer and host, in the Metropolitan Opera’s The Met: Live in HD series, which is transmitted live to movie theaters across the U.S. and overseas.
Voigt launched 2013-14 as host of a star-studded Sing With Haiti benefit concert at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, to aid in the rebuilding of the Holy Trinity Music School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which was destroyed in the earthquake of 2010. In the opera house she makes her role debut as Marie in Berg’s Wozzeck at the Metropolitan Opera, with Thomas Hampson in the title role and James Levine conducting, while recitals take her to numerous cities nationwide, including Miami, Fort Worth, Texas, Kansas City, Sonoma, Palm Desert, and Stanford, Calif., and Boston. It was also in Boston that the soprano performed Voigt Lessons, the one-woman show she developed with award-winning playwright Terrence McNally and director Francesca Zambello, which debuted to acclaim at the Glimmerglass Festival in 2011; as the Examiner observed, “The piece breathed spontaneity, wit, and vulnerability that moved and engaged the audience.” In concert, she appeared with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and Zurich’s Tonhalle Orchester, besides taking part in Christmas concerts with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Throughout the season, Voigt serves as the first Artist-in-Residence in Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program.
It was on television that Voigt made her first appearances of the 2012-13 season, when she hosted a special five-night presentation of Wagner’s complete “Ring” cycle on the PBS series Great Performances from the Met. Robert Lepage’s visionary new staging, which starred Voigt as Brünnhilde, was also released as a Blu-ray DVD set that won the Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording of 2013. The production was revived at the Metropolitan Opera in the spring, showcasing Voigt in the role that she made “exciting and expressive” (New York Times) with a voice that “blazed with passion” (New York Daily News). Also last season, Voigt hosted multiple transmissions—including the season-opening event—in the Met’s popular Live in HD series, while performance highlights included starring as Cassandre in Francesca Zambello’s revival of Berlioz’s Les Troyens at the Met; reprising her hit portrayal of Minnie in Puccini’s La fanciulla del West at Belgium’s Liège Opera; and giving concert performances in Beijing and Shanghai, China.
Through her career, Voigt has given definitive performances of iconic roles in German opera, from Richard Strauss’s Ariadne, Salome, Kaiserin (Die frau ohne schatten) and Chrysothemis (Elektra) to Wagner’s Sieglinde (Die Walküre), Elizabeth (Tannhäuser) and Isolde. She is also noted for her portrayals of such popular Italian operatic roles as Tosca, Aida, Amelia (Un ballo in maschera), Leonora (La forza del destino), and La Gioconda. Voigt’s wide-ranging repertoire also includes starring roles in Strauss’s Egyptian Helen, Der rosenkavalier, and Friedenstag; Wagner’s Lohengrin; and Berlioz’s Les Troyens.
Voigt’s discography includes two popular solo recordings for EMI Classics, both of which were critical successes. The Washington Post praised the “discerning eye” behind the adventurous choice of repertoire for All My Heart with pianist Brian Zeger, and noted that it was “performed by a voice outstanding not only for tone and power but for interpretive subtlety and emotional nuance.” Voigt’s earlier disc, Obsessions, presents scenes and arias from operas by Wagner and Strauss. Gramophone’s review of the Billboard top-five bestseller states, “The arias highlight Voigt’s extraordinary ability to soar effortlessly and luminously above the orchestra with her trademark rich, lustrous, never hard or brittle voice.” Her recording of Strauss’s Egyptian Helen was also a Billboard bestseller and was named one of the best CDs of that year by Opera News. A live recording of the 2003 Vienna State Opera Tristan und Isolde, in which Voigt made her headlining role debut, was released by Deutsche Grammophon.
A devotee of Broadway and American song, Voigt has given acclaimed performances of popular fare, including benefit concerts for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and New York Theatre Workshop. “Voigt ... comes to pop singing naturally. ... If this were 1970, she would probably be given her own network variety show,” raved Opera News. She has sung concerts with Barbara Cook and Dianne Reeves at the Hollywood Bowl, and given performances in Lincoln Center’s long-running American Songbook series, singing Broadway and popular standards. In the summer of 2011 Voigt won praise as Annie Oakley at the Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, N.Y., headlining in Irving Berlin’s beloved Annie Get Your Gun as well as in Voigt Lessons. Variety reported: “Deborah Voigt, perhaps the foremost dramatic operatic soprano of the day ... [is] profoundly aware that each song has a story to tell; her delivery is expressively honest and her voice lustrous and creamy. ... Voigt crosses the opera-Broadway boundary with grace and elegance, harboring a strength reserved for special moments. She is also in the possession of a devilish sense of humor, which was delightfully used to frame a lyric with a naughty smile.”Millions of viewers heard Voigt sing “America the Beautiful” on NBC’s nationwide broadcast of Macy’s Independence Day fireworks show in 2004, and later that year witnessed her majestic ride down Broadway in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. She has been profiled by many important national media outlets, such as CBS’s 60 Minutes, Good Morning America, and Vanity Fair.
Voigt studied at California State University at Fullerton. She was a member of San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, and won both the Gold Medal in Moscow’s International Tchaikovsky Competition and First Prize at Philadelphia’s Luciano Pavarotti Vocal Competition. Voigt is a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and was Musical America’s Vocalist of the Year in 2003. In 2007 she won an Opera News Award for distinguished achievement, and in 2009 she received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of South Carolina. Known to Twitter fans as a “Dramatic soprano and down-to-earth Diva,” Voigt was named by the Los Angeles Times as one of the top 25 cultural tweeters to follow. She is currently writing a memoir scheduled for publication by HarperCollins later this year.