After completing a Bachelor of Music from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Australian / British soprano Anita Watson graduated with honours from the Australian Opera Studio. She was a member of the Cologne Opera Studio 2006-2007 and the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden for 2007-2009.
She has won prizes in many prestigious competitions including the Australian Singing Competition, the Queen Sonja International Music Competition in Oslo, Neue Stimmen in Germany and the Plácido Domingo Operalia competition. In 2009 she was awarded the first prize and the audience award at the international ARD International Music Competition in Munich and in 2010 the SWR Emmerich-Smola Prize.
As a Jette Parker Young Artist at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden her roles included the title role in Donizetti's Rita, Gretel Hänsel und Gretel, First Lady Die Zauberflöte, Second Woman Dido and Aeneas, Naiad Ariadne auf Naxos and Flowermaiden Parsifal.
Her wider engagements have included Fiordiligi Così fan tutte for Diva Opera, Donna Anna Don Giovanni for Scottish Opera, Pamina Die Zauberflöte for Welsh National Opera, a return to the Royal Opera, London, as First Lady Die Zauberflöte, Mimì La bohème for Opera North and Flowermaiden Parsifal at the BBC Proms.
She made her debut with Opera Australia as Donna Anna Don Giovanni and her international engagements have further included The Governess The Turn of the Screw and Donna Anna Don Giovanni with the Nederlandse Reisopera and at the Teatro La Fenice, Venice, and at the Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse, Donna Anna Don Giovanni with the Nederlandse Reisopera and at the Landestheater Salzburg, Mimì La bohème for the Nederlandse Reisopera, Fifth Maid Elektra at the Salzburg Festival and Anne Trulove The Rake’s Progress at the Teatro Municipal de Santiago.
Anita Watson has appeared worldwide in concerts, recitals and television and radio broadcasts, particular highlights including Beethoven Symphony No. 9 with the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Roma, and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Richard Strauss Four Last Songs with the Rheinische Philharmonie, Koblenz, and the Mariinksy Orchestra, St Petersburg. Her recordings include Hänsel und Gretel (Opus Arte DVD / Blu Ray), Dido and Aeneas (Opus Arte DVD / Blu Ray), Ariadne auf Naxos for Chandos CD, Parsifal for Hallé CD and Fata Morgana – Songs by Pavel Haas for Resonus Classics (BBC Music Magazine Choral & Song Choice for May 2017).
Conductors with whom she has worked include Julia Jones, Speranza Scappucci, Arie van Beek, Thomas Blunt, Brad Cohen, Sir Colin Davis, Patrick Davin, Andreas Delfs, Sir Mark Elder, Daniele Gatti, Leo Hussain, Damian Iorio, Lothar Koenigs, Antonello Manacorda, Sir Antonio Pappano, Toby Purser, David Syrus, Jeffrey Tate, Lars Vogt and Mark Wigglesworth.
Anita Watson recently sang The Governess in English National Opera’s new production of The Turn of the Screw at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Donna Anna Don Giovanni for West Australian Opera and further performances as Pamina The Magic Flute for Welsh National Opera.
Her current engagements include Micaëla Carmen and Countess Almaviva Le Nozze di Figaro for Welsh National Opera, Horatio Parker’s Hora Novissima at the 2020 Three Choirs Festival, Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle at The Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, and Birmingham Bach Choir’s Centenary Concert in Lichfield Cathedral.
Please note that this biography is not to be used for programmes. Current information is available on request.
Micaëla: Carmen / Welsh National Opera
“…a bright, personable village girl, beautifully composed in her big aria, with bags of presence and never at all the simpering victim.”
The Arts Desk
“Anita Watson captured the opera’s true tragedy, that of the spurned Micaëla and her devotion to José and to his dying mother, in an impeccably sung account of her exquisite music.”
“Anita Watson was a strong Micaëla.”
“Anita Watson was a surprisingly forthright Micaëla, and it worked: this Micaëla was much more than a one-dimensional ‘good girl’ – the foil to Carmen, introduced in to the opera to satisfy Bizet’s bourgeois audience. She was not intimidated by the groping eyes of the soldiers in Act 1, making her utterances more integrated into the dramatic tension than is sometimes the case. And during her Act 3 time seemed to stand still: Watson conveyed Micaëla’s quiet heroism most impressively. This was a moment of serenity amid the prevailing moral chaos.”
“I enjoyed the lovely sound of Anita Watson’s sweet natured Micaëla…”
Plays To See
“…this Micaëla was attractively delineated as a brave young woman who soon gained one’s respect. Watson’s reading of the aria ‘Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante’in Act III was aurally beautiful and fully weighted with meaning.”
Seen and Heard International
“Anita Watson sings sweetly as an unexpectedly bearable, forthright Micaëla.”
“Anita Watson’s radiant Micaela…”
The Sunday Times
“Anita Watson’s Micaëla is sweetly sung and charmingly acted.”
Governess: The Turn of the Screw / English National Opera
“Hers is a gorgeous, liquid lyric soprano…”
The Arts Desk
“…she inhabited the character flawlessly.“
“Without disguising the governess’s complexity (like Quint, she says of Miles, “You shall be mine”), Anita Watson powerfully makes her a woman driven more by moral anxiety than by luridly subjective fantasy.”
“As the Governess, Anita Watson sang with a beautifully sweet tone and finely, entrancingly nuanced phrasing; her words – there were no surtitles though copies of the libretto were supplied – were as crystalline as her conception of her own ‘mission.’”
“Anita Watson’s superbly expressive Governess…”
”Anita Watson, brought extensive experience of her role to a taut, tortured account of the Governess.“
Governess: The Turn of the Screw / Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse
“Anita Watson's Governess benefited from a gleaming upper register with the right touch of psychotic hysteria towards Miles and Flora.”
Governess: The Turn of the Screw / Teatro La Fenice
“Her free, generous use of a blessedly fresh, full, unforced lyric soprano promises much for the future.”
Haydn: Nelson Mass / Birmingham Bach Choir
“Anita Watson and Felix Kemp soared through their virtuoso solos…”
Midlands Music Reviews
Donna Anna: Don Giovanni / Nederlandse Reisopera
“Anita Watson unveiled a lithe soprano and delivered a heartfelt “Non mi dir”"
Donna Anna: Don Giovanni / Scottish Opera
“Capturing the audience with her clear and pure tone, Anita Watson plays the role of Donna Anna. Watson gave a most moving performance of her anguished character.”
Out in Perth
“The best singing comes from Anita Watson’s Anna – a sincere and refined performance.”
“Vocal honours must go to Anita Watson’s Donna Anna…”
The Reviews Hub
“…gave a very impressive account of Anna’s arias.”
Seen and Heard International
Pamina: The Magic Flute / Welsh National Opera
“Anita Watson is the freshest, most natural Pamina imaginable, delightfully uninhibited in her scenes with Papageno, clear-voiced and deeply touching in 'Ach, ich fühl’s.' “
The Arts Desk
“It is hard to imagine a more ideal than Anita Watson. Her rich, silky soprano wrapped itself lovingly around Mozart’s delicious melodies, and Watson’s well-shaped phrasing created strong character and spirit. ‘Ach, ich fühl’s’ managed to be heart-wrenching without Watson lingering overly long on the aching phrases, and she and (Mark) Stone blended well in ‘Bei Männern welche Liebe fühlen.’”
“Anita Watson is a fresh-voiced Pamina, whose chemistry with Papageno in their opening duet on the virtues of marriage is as natural as it is engaging, and her despairing ‘Ach, ich fühl’s’, deeply moving.”
Wales Arts Review
Mimì: La bohème / Nederlandse Reisopera
“Anita Watson sang an endearing Mimì. Her charisma and crystal clear voice gave Mimì exactly the tenderness the role needs and she sang wonderfully in her death scene.”
Opera Magazine NL
Mimì: La bohème / Opera North
“Most of the audience I guess were new to opera, and genuinely startled and moved by Mimì’s decline and Rodolfo’s panic. Here the performances of Anita Watson and Ji-Min Park were at their impassioned best."
Anne Trulove: The Rake’s Progress / Teatro Municipal de Santiago
“The cast is dominated by the tender and soft soprano of Anita Watson, whose voice displays perfect and almost supernatural delicacy.”
Economía y Negocios
Haas Fata Morgana: Songs by Pavel Haas
Anna Starushkevych, Nicky Spence, James Platt
Navarra Quartet, Lada Valesova (Piano)
Resonus Classics CD RE 10183
Humperdinck Hänsel und Gretel (role of Dew Fairy)
Diana Damrau, Angelika Kirschlager, Anja Silja, Elizabeth Connell, Sir Thomas Allen
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden / Sir Colin Davis
Opus Arte CD OA 1011 D / Blu Ray OABD 7032 D
Purcell Dido and Aeneas (role of Second Woman)
Sarah Connolly, Lucy Crowe, Sara Fulgoni, Lucas Meachem
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment / Christopher Hogwood
Opus Arte CD OA 1018 D / Blu Ray OABD 7049 D
R. Strauss Ariadne auf Naxos (role of Naiaid)
Christine Brewer, Gillian Keith, Alice Coote, Robert Dean Smith, Alan Opie
Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Sir Richard Armstrong
Chandos CD CHAN 3168
Wagner Parsifal (role of Second Flowermaiden, Group 1)
Katarina Dalayman, Lars Cleveman, Tom Fox, Detlef Roth, Reinhard Hagen, Sir John Tomlinson
Hallé Orchestra / Sir Mark Elder
Hallé CD CDHLD 7539