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Lisa Saffer

Biography

Born: June 3, 1960; Madison, WI  
American soprano Lisa Saffer has achieved distinction in an amazingly wide variety of roles, though she is identified particularly with the operas of Handel. She has sung Dalinda from Ariodante, the title role in Partenope, Atalanta from Xerxes, Cleopatra from Giulio Cesare, and numerous others, generally to critical acclaim. Her repertory extends to Mozart (Susanna from Le nozze di Figaro), Verdi (Gilda, from Rigoletto), Wagner, Richard Strauss, Read more and the moderns, a category that includes the title role in Berg's Lulu and such lesser-known fare as Henze's Elegy for Young Lovers (Hilda Mack), Birtwistle's Punch and Judy (Polly/Witch), and Oliver Knussen's Higglety Pigglety Pop! and Where The Wild Things Are. She has also regularly appeared in concert, again in broad repertory, from Bach's B minor Mass to Knussen's Rilke Songs.

Saffer was born in Madison, WI, on June 3, 1960. Her educational background is impressive: she received a bachelor's degree from the Oberlin Conservatory and a master's (1984) and artist diploma (1986) from the New England Conservatory of Music. Her principal teacher throughout her student years was Helen Hodam, with whom she worked for about 20 years, beginning in 1978. She began studies with Rita Shane in 1998.

Saffer received the Anna Case Mackay Award while serving as an apprentice at the Santa Fe Opera in the mid-'80s. In 1988 she was named a recipient of the National Music Theater Institute grant. She soon began attracting attention on U.S. stages for her work in several Stephen Wadsworth productions of Monteverdi operas. Beginning in the early '90s she made a series of Handel recordings for Harmonia Mundi, for which she achieved international acclaim. The series included Agrippina (1992), Ottone (1993), Judas Maccabaeus (1995), and Ariodante (2002).

During the 1990s Saffer was already branching out into repertory far afield from the Baroque: for New World Records she recorded Bright Sheng's Chinese Love Songs (1992), and for the Arabesque label, she recorded songs by Ralph Shapey (1999). Her highly imaginative portrayal of Lulu in the English National Opera production in 2005 garnered a nomination for the Laurence Olivier Award in operatic performance and received the Royal Philharmonic Society's vocal performance award. The Chandos recording of Lulu, based on that acclaimed English-language production, was issued in 2006, Saffer drawing virtually unanimous critical praise for her interpretation of this enormously difficult role. Read less
Handel: Ariodante / McGegan, Hunt, Gondek, Saffer, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Release Date: 03/11/1996   Label: Harmonia Mundi  
Catalog: 907146   Number of Discs: 3
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Browse 1-10 of 10 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Carter: Concerto For Orchestra; Knussen: Oceans De Terre
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 96354 Release Date: 05/03/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Elliott Carter,  Oliver Knussen
    Performer:  Ole Böhn,  Lisa Saffer,  Lucy Shelton,  Peter Serkin
    Conductor:  Oliver Knussen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta,  Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
    CD: $12.99
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  • 2.
    Glass: Orphee / Manson, Cutlip, Jarmen, Saffer, Portland Opera
    Label: Orange Mountain Music   Catalog: 68 Release Date: 09/14/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Philip Glass
    Performer:  Philip Cutlip,  Georgia Jarmen,  Lisa Saffer,  Ryan MacPherson
    Conductor:  Anne Manson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Portland Opera Orchestra
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  • 3.
    Handel: Arias For Cuzzoni, Durastanti, Senesino, Montagnana
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2908284 Release Date: 10/14/2008   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Lorraine Hunt Lieberson,  Lisa Saffer,  David Thomas,  Drew Minter
    Conductor:  Nicholas McGegan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
    On sale! $61.98
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  • 4.
    1+1  Handel: Judas Maccabaeus / Mcgegan, De Mey, Et Al
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2907374 Release Date: 08/08/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Lisa Saffer,  Patricia Spence,  Guy de Mey,  David Thomas  ... 
    Conductor:  Nicholas McGegan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berkeley Chamber Chorus,  Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
    On sale! $17.98
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  • 5.
    Opera In English - Berg: Lulu / Daniel, Saffer, Perry, Et Al
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 3130 Release Date: 03/21/2006   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Alban Berg
    Performer:  Graeme Danby,  Jane Powell,  Anna Burford,  John Graham-Hall  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paul Daniel,  English National Opera Orchestra
    CD: $29.99
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  • 6.
    Handel: Ariodante (Highlights) / Mcgegan, Lieberson, Et Al
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 907277 Release Date: 01/08/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Lorraine Hunt Lieberson,  Rufus Müller,  Lisa Saffer,  Juliana Gondek  ... 
    Conductor:  Nicholas McGegan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Wilhelmshavener Vokalensemble,  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
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  • 7.
    Knussen: Higglety Pigglety Pop, Where The Wild Things Are
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 469556 Release Date: 06/12/2001   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Oliver Knussen
    Performer:  Lisa Saffer,  Rosemary Hardy,  Christopher Gillett,  David Wilson-Johnson  ... 
    Conductor:  Oliver Knussen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta
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  • 8.
    Imbrie: Requiem, Piano Concerto No 3 / Rothman, Et Al
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9091 Release Date: 08/17/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Andrew Imbrie
    Performer:  Alan Feinberg,  Lisa Saffer
    Conductor:  George Rothman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Riverside Symphony,  New York Virtuoso Singers
    On sale! $19.98
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  • 9.
    Handel: Ariodante / McGegan, Hunt, Gondek, Saffer, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 907146 Release Date: 03/11/1996   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Jörn Lindemann,  Nicolas Cavallier,  Lisa Saffer,  Jennifer Lane  ... 
    Conductor:  Nicholas McGegan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Wilhelmshavener Vokalensemble,  Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
    On sale! $35.98
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  • 10.
    Sheng: H'un, My Song, 3 Chinese Love Songs / Schwartz
    Label: New World Records   Catalog: 80407 Release Date: 12/08/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bright Sheng
    Performer:  Lucia Lin,  Paul Neubauer,  Bright Sheng,  Lisa Saffer  ... 
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Chamber Symphony
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