Born in New-Zealand and raised in Wales, mezzo-soprano Joanna Harries is a 2021/22 Young Artist at the National Opera Studio in London. She was a choral scholar at the University of Cambridge and went on to train at the Royal Northern College of Music and the Alexander Gibson Opera Studio at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She holds a Sybil Tutton Opera Award, supported by Help Musicians.
Joanna’s opera roles span from early to contemporary opera and include the title role/Sāvitri (Hampstead Garden Opera), Dido/Dido and Aeneas (Dartington Arts Festival), Zerlina/Don Giovanni (Merry Opera Company), Varava/Kat’a Kabanova (Fulham Opera), Drummer/The Emperor of Atlantis in Polly Graham’s production (Loud Crowd & CHROMA), Tartine/Scoring a Century (British Youth Opera), Awen (cover)/Gair ar Gnawd (Welsh National Opera), Nun/The Fiery Angel (Scottish Opera/RCS), and Ottone/Agrippina and Jenny Hildebrand/Street Scene (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland). She is also an Emerging Artist for the Royal Opera House “Opera Dots” programme.
Upcoming roles include Innkeeper’s Wife/The Cunning Little Vixen (Longborough Festival Opera), Lucinda/La forza dell’amor paterno (The Barber Opera), and Diana in The Weekend, a new opera adapted from Michael Palin’s play by Scott Stroman & Tamsin Collison with a cast led by Adrian Thompson.
As a concert soloist, performances include Bach’s Christmas Oratorio at Snape Maltings Concert Hall, 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; Duruflé’s Requiem at Temple Church, 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 previous Britten-Pears Young Artist and Handel House Talent artist, a current Opera Prelude Young Artist and was awarded 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 new operas including Prometheus in Tim Benjamin’s The Fire of Olympus, and Girl/Psychiatrist in Scott Stroman’s Fever Pitch, adapted from the Nick Hornby novel. She has also premiered vocal works by composers such as 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 has collaborated with performance artist Maeve Rendle at Manchester Art Gallery, The Whitworth and the Harris Museum in Preston.
She is co-founder of SongPath with contralto Jess Dandy – an initiative bringing together music, walking and nature for mental health. SongPath’s inaugural event took place in Cumbria in 2019 as part of the Ulverston Music Festival. Joanna was awarded a 2021 Royal Philharmonic Society Enterprise Award for her new podcast “Songs of the River”, and is currently developing a series of new one-woman operas about the women behind space exploration with Fiona Finsbury in a residency at Snape Maltings in 2022.
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).
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