Young British/New-Zealand mezzo-soprano Joanna Harries studied at the University of Cambridge, the Royal Northern College of Music and the Alexander Gibson Opera Studio at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
In the 2019/20 season she performs the roles of Countess Ceprano/Rigoletto (Opera Holland Park), Innkeeper’s Wife/The Cunning Little Vixen (Longborough Festival Opera), Lucinda/La forza dell’amor paterno (The Barber Opera), Zerlina/Don Giovanni (Merry Opera Company), Drummer/The Emperor of Atlantis in Polly Graham’s production (Loud Crowd & CHROMA), and Prometheus in Tim Benjamin’s new opera The Fire of Olympus. Concert appearances include soloist for Bach’s Christmas Oratorio at Snape Maltings Concert Hall and Duruflé’s Requiem at Temple Church with the Collegium Musicum London, and she is an Emerging Artist for the Royal Opera House’s “Opera Dots” programme.
Joanna’s previous operatic roles span from early to contemporary opera and include Awen (cover)/Gair ar Gnawd (Welsh National Opera); Nun/The Fiery Angel (Scottish Opera/RCS); Dido/Dido and Aeneas (Dartington Arts Festival); Tartine/Scoring a Century (British Youth Opera); Varava/Kat’a Kabanova (Fulham Opera); Der Trommler/Der Kaiser von Atlantis, Ottone/Agrippina, and Jenny Hildebrand/Street Scene (all Royal Conservatoire of Scotland).
As a concert soloist, performances include Bach’s Easter Oratorio at the Bach Festival Świdnica in Poland; Macmillan’s Seven Last Words From The Cross with the BBC Philharmonic and Huddersfield Choral Society at Harrogate Royal Hall; Bach’s St Matthew Passion with Skipton Camerata; Handel’s Messiah at Lincoln Cathedral; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 at Sheffield Cathedral; and Haydn’s Maria Theresa Mass at Chester Cathedral. Her repertoire includes many of the major oratorios by J.S. Bach, Handel, Mozart, Haydn and Vivaldi, as well as works by Dvořák, Vaughan Williams, and Rutter.
A keen recitalist, Joanna is a Britten-Pears Young Artist, one of the six current Handel House Talent artists selected by Laurence Cummings and the winner of the first Edith Brass Prize for Lieder at the RCS. She has performed song and Lieder at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, the Britten Studio at Snape Maltings, the National Portrait Gallery in London, as part of the “Introducing” series at Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, and the Oxford Lieder Festival mastercourse.
Joanna is in demand as a performer of contemporary music, creating roles in several new operas and premiering vocal works by Melissa Douglas (Sonnet 116 at the John Ryland’s Library, Manchester), Michael Betteridge (Dawn Chorus at the Royal Exchange Theatre), and Anna Appleby (winning composition, 2015 Rosamond Prize). She performed as vocal soloist in the UK revival of Steve Reich’s video opera Three Tales (Ensemble BPM) and regularly collaborates with artist Maeve Rendle, performing her works of performance art at Manchester Art Gallery and the Harris Museum in Preston.
She is co-founder, with contralto Jessica Dandy, of SongPath – a charitable venture which promotes walking and music-making in the context of mental health. SongPath’s inaugural event took place in Cumbria in June 2019 as part of the Ulverston Music Festival.
Joanna is grateful for awards from the Fondation Michelle / Fonds Culturel National Luxembourg, the Simon Fletcher Charitable Trust, the Ryan Davies Memorial Fund, the Mario Lanza Foundation, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Trust, the Tillett Trust, the Hope Scott Trust, the Dartington Hall Trust, and the Gwilym Gwalchmai Jones Award (RNCM).
“An outstandingly intense cast (Chiara Vinci, Joanna Harries, Peter Brathwaite)…help to evoke the manic mixture of desperation, determination and fatalistic urgency.”Richard Morrison – The Times
“[The cast] included some remarkably mature singers and some excellent acting. I can’t possibly mention everyone, but I have to pick out Joanna Harries, as Emma Jones, the warm-hearted wiseacre of the wives – her vivid Noo Joisey tones were a delight.”Robert Beale – Manchester Evening News / Manchester Theatre Awards
“The level of talent displayed by the young cast – many of them taking multiple roles – holds the attention through scene after scene. Among her manifold duties, Joanna Harries displays acumen as nightclub singer Tartine, while Guy Elliott successful juggles several roles.”George Hall – The Stage
“Another outstanding interpretation was that of Joanna Harries as Ottone. A newcomer to the Conservatoire, she has a beautifully schooled mezzo and projected each of her emotionally penetrating arias with great accomplishment.”Opera Scotland
“Perhaps most at home in their roles, however [was] Harries, who brought the house down, not so much with her fetching facial hair as with her spot-on comic timing.”Anna Campbell – Varsity
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