Donna Brown. Soprano, b Renfrew, Ont, 15 Feb 1955. Donna Brown studied voice, piano and composition privately in Ottawa, and at McGill University in Montreal, before pursuing further studies with Noémie Perugia in Paris. She received scholarships from the Franz Schubert Institute in Austria, the Herbert Von Karajan Institute in Salzburg (to study with Edith Mathis), and the Fondation Royaumont in France, to study with Daniel Ferro. She also studied with Randy Michaelson in Venice. Brown quickly became a leading soprano in Europe after her 1982 professional stage debut as Micaela in Peter Brook's Tragedy of Carmen. She sang in the celebrated opera production for three months in Paris, and in its subsequent tour throughout Europe.
Brown made Paris her home for the next 20 years, moving back to Canada in 1997. She has performed an extensive repertoire of opera, recital, and oratorio works throughout Europe and the world. She has sung works ranging from early baroque (Handel and Mozart) through Berlioz, Debussy, and Mahler, to 20th century works (eg, Stravinski and Lutoslavski). R. Murray Schafer composed the work Gitanjali for her voice; she sang and recorded it in Ottawa in 1991 with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, under Mario Bernardi.
Oratorio and Recital Roles
Donna Brown has performed in and recorded oratorios such as Handel's Saul, Mozart's Exultate Jubilate, and Haydn's Creation. One of the highlights of her oratorio career was singing Mahler's Second Symphony ("The Resurrection") with the London Philharmonic, conducted by Bernard Haitink.
She has performed over 50 recitals, appearing with such renowned pianists as Stéphane Lemelin, Andrew Tunis, Michel Dalberto, Roger Vignoles, Maria João Pires, Alain Planes, Jean-Marc Luisada, and Philippe Cassard.
Brown's starring opera roles include Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Morgana in Handel's Alcina, Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, Chimène in the world premiere of Debussy's unfinished opera Rodrigue et Chimène, Gilda in Rigoletto, Zerline in Don Giovanni, Almirena in Rinaldo, Rosina in The Barber of Seville, Micaela in Carmen, and Nanetta in Falstaff.
Brown has appeared on many of the world's great opera and concert stages, including London, Paris, Tokyo, Geneva, Berlin, Vienna, Rome, São Paulo, Caracas, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Vancouver, San Francisco and Los Angeles. She has sung for the world's top conductors, including Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Helmuth Rilling, Kent Nagano, Trevor Pinnock, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Kurt Masur, Armin Jordan, Carlo Maria Giulini, William Christie, Daniel Barenboim, Jeffrey Tate, Bernard Haitink, and Peter Maag.
Brown's opera and concert performances have been recorded for national television in Canada, England, France, Germany, Spain, Japan and Switzerland. She has also recorded extensively for radio around the world.
Donna Brown's floating, clear soprano voice is exceptional in its ability to express emotion and intelligence while maintaining technical precision. Her dramatic expressiveness has been ideal for her operatic roles, yet she is able to establish an intimate connection with audiences in her recitals. In October 2001, La Scena Musicale described "her expressive, nuanced singing, coupled with pure, gleaming tone and overall lovely stage presence."