American soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen has won acclaim internationally in a vast repertoire spanning from Donna Anna in Don Giovanni to Leonora in Il Trovatore, and Elsa in Lohengrin to the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier. A regular guest at the leading opera houses around the world, her voice has been hailed as having a “caramel tone” that is “as lyrical as she is luminous.”
Ms. Willis-Sørensen begins the 2018/19 season with her role debut – as well as Italian stage debut – as Leonora in Il Trovatore at the Teatro Regio di Torino. Her season brings her to Germany next, as she returns to the Bayerische Staatsoper as Hélène in Les Vêpres Siciliennes and to the Semperoper Dresden to star as Rosalinde in concert performances of J. Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, opposite Jonas Kaufmann as Eisenstein, under the baton of Franz Welser Möst. Televised as a New Year’s concert, this performance will also be released on DVD. Ms. Willis-Sørensen also makes her stage debut in the role at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in December. She then returns to the United States for the second half of her season, as she appears as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni at the Metropolitan Opera and makes her role debut as the title role in Rusalka at the San Francisco Opera. She makes a second Dvorak role debut in February as she performs as the soprano soloist in Stabat Mater with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andris Nelsons.
In 2018, Ms. Willis Sorensen’s first Verdi role, Hélène in Les Vêpres Siciliennes in a new production at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, marked a turning point in her career. She received the highest praise for this first step into this repertoire and consequently, in the next seasons, will debut many new roles, including: the title role in Handel’s Alcina, Violetta Valery in La Traviata, Valentine in Les Huguenots, Elisabetta di Valois in Don Carlos, and Marguerite in Faust.
Other recent engagements have included her debut as the Marschallin in Der Roenkavalier at the Royal Opera House under Andris Nelsons and subsequently at the Glyndebourne Festival, Elsa in Lohengrin at the Deutsche Oper Berlin under Donald Runnicles and Opernhaus Zurich under Fabio Luisi, the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Wiener Staatsoper, Houston Grand Opera and Semperoper Dresden, and Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the San Francisco Opera under Sir Mark Elder and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden under Sir Antonio Pappano.
Rachel Willis-Sørensen began her international career with her debut as the Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden under Sir Antonio Pappano. She subsequently joined the ensemble of the Semperoper Dresden where her roles included Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Vitellia in La clemenza di Tito, Elettra in Idomeneo, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Diemut in Feuersnot, and Mimi in La bohème. Important debuts followed in rapid succession as Elsa in Lohengrin at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Opernhaus Zurich, the Countess at the Metropolitan Opera and Wiener Staatsoper, Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the San Francisco Opera, and Fiordiligi at the LA Opera. She also sang Freia in Das Rheingold at the New York Philharmonic under Alan Gilbert and Agathe in Der Freischütz with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in London under Sir Mark Elder.
Equally at home on the concert stage, she has performed Strauss’s Four Last Songs multiple times, including in 2018 at HRH Prince Charles’s birthday celebration under Esa Pekka Salonen. Other performances include Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Andris Nelsons at the Tanglewood Festival, as well as with the Philharmonia under Christoph von Dohnanhyi and with he Berlin RSO under Marek Janowski. She debuted with the Israel Philharmonic in Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 under Omer Welber and performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with the Staatskapelle Dresden under Myun Whung Chung. Ms. Willis-Sørensen has also been a regular guest at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, where she has sung a diverse repertoire conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano.
A graduate of the Houston Opera Studio, Ms. Willis-Sørensen has been the winner of several international vocal competitions, including: the 2014 Operalia competition in Los Angeles, the Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition in Vienna, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.