Adrianne Pieczonka. Soprano, b Poughkeepsie, NY, 2 Mar 1963; B MUS (Western Ontario) 1985, M MUS (Toronto) 1988. Adrianne Pieczonka and her family moved to Burlington, Ont., when she was 2 years old. She was encouraged to take piano lessons at an early age. Pieczonka began vocal training in her teenaged years and at 18 was accepted into the University of Western Ontario, where she studied vocal performance with Alvin Reimer and Martin Chambers. She later attended the University of Toronto Opera Division, studying with Mary Morrison. In 1988 she was given a Distinguished Graduate Award and received a Canada Council grant to study in London with Vera Rosza.
Pieczonka joined the Canadian Opera Company chorus, making her professional debut in the role of the female prisoner in Lady Macbeth of the Mtsenk District (Shostakovich) in 1988. In 1991 she was selected by conductor Georg Solti for his recording of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. She won first prize in the 's-Hertogenbosch [sic] International Vocal Competition held in the Dutch city of 's-Hertogenbosch, and at the La Plaine-sur-Mer competition in France, as well as third prize in the International Singing Competition of Toulouse. Subsequently, Pieczonka was granted a contract with the Volksoper in Vienna.
Robert Everett-Green of the Globe and Mail (26 Dec 2006) wrote, "Pieczonka is a fine, intelligent singer in any situation, with a creamy tone and lustrous colour throughout her range." In 2006, she described herself in an interview for Opera Canada as "somewhere between a lyric and a dramatic soprano." In that respect, Pieczonka's voice is well suited for a wide variety of repertoire. In addition to her numerous operatic engagements, Pieczonka occasionally sings in solo recital programs. In 2002 she performed Strauss's Four Last Songs and Brahms's Requiem with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
Major Operatic Roles
Pieczonka has sung for major opera productions in North America and Europe. On 31 Dec 1999, she was chosen to sing in the Millennium Opera Gala at Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall. In Canada, she has appeared in operas staged in Hamilton, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut 21 Feb 2004 singing the role of Lisa in Pique Dame (Tchaikovsky). Other significant roles include the Countess in Le Nozze de Figaro and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni (Mozart); Tatyana in Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky); Mimi in La Bohème (Puccini); Elisabetta in Don Carlo (Verdi); Ellen Orford in Peter Grimes (Britten); Agathe in Der Freischütz (Von Weber); and the title role in Arabella (Richard Strauss). As her voice has matured, she has taken on roles requiring a heavier technique, most notably the dramatic soprano characters from Wagner's operas. These roles include Freia in Das Rheingold, Elsa in Lohengrin, Elisabeth in Tannhäuser, Eva in Der Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Sieglinde in Die Walküre. After her performance as Sieglinde at the Bayreuth Festival in 2006, the newspaper Die Zeit dubbed her "The Sieglinde of our time" (29 Jul 2006).
Critical Acclaim and Awards
On 25 Oct 2007, Adrianne Pieczonka was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and on 27 Mar 2007, she was named an Austrian Kammersängerin. Pieczonka received a Juno Award nomination for her recording of arias by Wagner and Richard Strauss in 2007. In 2010 she was awarded a Juno for Adrianne Pieczonka Sings Puccini. She was named the best female opera singer of 2002-3 by Spain's critics' association. Additionally, she was named one of the top-10 artists of 2006 by the Globe and Mail.
Strauss, Johann. Die Fledermaus. Hungarian State Opera Orchestra, Friedrich Haider, cond. 2000. NC000058-2 Nightingale
Strauss, Richard. Die Orchesterlieder. Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice, Friedrich Haider, cond. 2000. NC 000072-2 Nightingale
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Don Giovanni. Nicholaus Esterházy Sinfonia, Michael Halasz cond. 2001. 8.557893 Naxos
Verdi, Giuseppe. Falstaff. Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Claudio Abbado, cond. 2001. 471 194-2 DGC
Arias by Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. Munich Radio Orchestra, Ulf Schirmer, cond. 2006. C 665 061 A Orfeo
Beethoven: Ideals of the French Revolution. Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Kent Nagano, cond. 2008. AN 2 9940-1 Analekta
Adrianne Pieczonka Sings Puccini. Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Dan Ettinger, cond. 2009. C 779 091 A Orfeo