Susanna Fairbairn

Susanna Fairbairn is increasingly in demand for operatic and solo work nationally and internationally. Recent engagements include the role of Donna Elvira/Don Giovanni for Diva Opera (touring UK, France and Jersey), Bess Foster/Georgiana for Buxton International Opera Festival, and her Deutsche Oper Berlin début as Agathe in the world première of a new opera entitled Wolfsschlucht at the Tischlerei. Recent concert highlights have included Verdi’s Requiem in Coventry Cathedral for Remembrance Day, appearances as soloist with the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Three Choirs Festival in Handel’s Israel in Egypt, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem at Middle Temple Hall, and Carmina Burana in St. John’s, Smith Square.

Operatic roles include Galatea/Acis and Galatea for Opera Theatre Company; Countess/Le nozze di Figaro for Longborough Festival Opera; cover Donna Anna/Don Giovanni for Opera North; Donna Anna/Don Giovanni, Juno/La Calisto, Eleonora/Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo, Bice/Pia de’ Tolomei, and 1st Priestess and Greek Woman/Iphygénie en Tauride for English Touring Opera; Juliette/Die tote Stadt with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra under Patrik Ringborg in Dublin, Ireland; Dido/Dido and Aeneas for Nordland Musikkfestuke in Norway; and Crobyle/Thaïs for Chelsea Opera Group. She was Count Gontran in Pop-Up Opera’s Une Éducation Manquée, Margery in the London Handel Festival’s performance of The Dragon of Wantley, and has also sung Armida/Rinaldo, Papagena/Magic Flute, and covered Romilda/Xerxes and Gismonda/Ottone for English Touring Opera.

Susanna has performed recitals nationwide including at Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room, St. James’s Church Piccadilly, St. Margaret’s Westminster, Peterborough Cathedral, and at Sidney Sussex, Cambridge. She very much enjoys interpreting contemporary music, leading to collaborations with Joseph Horovitz, Robert Saxton, Cecilia McDowall, Colin Riley, the Efthymiou sisters, Russell Hepplewhite, and Toby Young. Her début solo CD is now available on Naxos: ‘Songs of Geoffrey Bush and Joseph Horovitz’, about which Gramophone Magazine said, ‘Soprano Susanna Fairbairn is in delectably fresh voice throughout, and she forges a splendidly stylish and communicative alliance with her accompanist Matthew Schellhorn.’

Susanna’s extensive oratorio and concert work includes a wide range of repertoire, under the batons of John Eliot Gardiner, Marin Alsop, Evelino Pidò, Laurence Cummings, Sian Edwards, Michael Rosewell and Nigel Short. She has performed at such venues as The Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Carnegie Hall, the Concertgebouw, Cadogan Hall, The Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Royal Albert Hall, St. David’s Hall in Cardiff, the Wales Millennium Centre, Birmingham Symphony Hall, and St. James’s Church Piccadilly. Memorable performances as a soloist include a staged versions of both the St. John and St. Matthew Passions for English Touring Opera, Tavener’s Veil of the Temple at Canterbury Cathedral (in the presence of the composer), Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony, Beethoven 9, Poulenc Gloria, Will Todd’s Mass in Blue and Mozart’s Requiem and C Minor Mass. Susanna has also appeared numerous times for the BBC; highlights include being interviewed on Radio 3’s In Tune by Clemency Burton-Hill, and appearing on the soundtracks for two BBC dramas with music by Solomon Grey: JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, and The Last Post (available on iTunes).

Susanna gained an MA with Distinction from the Wales International Academy of Voice, previously studying voice at Trinity College of Music and flute as an undergraduate at Magdalen College, Oxford. At Trinity she won the Paul Simm Opera Prize and the Wilfred Greenhouse Allt Prize for Oratorio and Cantata, and at Oxford she was the first Instrumental Scholar in Magdalen College’s c.500-year history. She is indebted to her teachers Jenny Dakin, Raymond Connell, Dennis O’Neill, Nuccia Focile and Alison Wells.

Having spent part of her childhood in Africa, Susanna has continued to enjoy exploring the globe; living and working in so many different parts of the world, as far as India and Brunei, has lead to the most extraordinary experiences and friendships. Whether scuba diving or night-time jungle trekking, rowing or playing rugby at college, undertaking vegetarian cooking lessons with a 95-year-old matriarch in Mumbai or embracing a plant-based diet, life has been a fascinating journey so far. Susanna now counts climbing as one of her passions, even having trained as a Climbing Wall Instructor. Exotic episodes aside however, Susanna believes there’s still nothing better than a long walk by the river, a pint of local ale and a roaring log fire!