“I play a lot of boys,” reports Susan Graham, a svelte but buxom mezzo-soprano. Schooled for opera’s mischievous “trouser” roles by climbing trees and toilet-papering houses while she grew up in Midland, the 36-year-old earned a master’s degree in music at Texas Tech University in Lubbock and went on to win the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions in 1988. With five CDs already on her résumé, Graham recently cut the first disc of a new recording contract with Sony Classical. At the end of this month, she’ll travel from Amsterdam (where she now lives) to the U.S. for the sort of gigs that befit her swelling stature: a recital tour featuring a January 21 performance at Landreth Auditorium in Fort Worth and a February 2 finale at New York’s Lincoln Center; runs of The Marriage of Figaro and Così Fan Tutte at the Met in February and March, respectively; and a May 7 concert opera back at Lincoln Center. All the hubbub invites speculation: Will the spirited brunette be the next Cecilia Bartoli? “I’m not sure I want to be the next any one,” she asserts with a mock-serious flourish. “I’d rather be the first Susan Graham.”
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