Winner of the First Prize at the 10th International Competition for Baroque Opera Pietro Antonio Cesti Competition and the Grand Prix of the 2019 Concours international d’interprétation de la Mélodie Française de Toulouse, Grace Durham was born in London.
She began her studies as a linguist, graduating with a First-Class Honours Degree in French and Italian from Clare College, Cambridge. The recipient of an Independent Opera Voice Scholarship, she continued her training as a singer at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the National Opera Studio.
She was a member of the Junges Ensemble at the Semperoper Dresden, where her roles included Mercédès Carmen, Lucienne Die tote Stadt, Cherubino Le nozze di Figaro, Second Lady Die Zauberflöte, Flora Bervoix La traviata and Clare in the German première of Philip Venables’ 4.48 Psychosis.
An accomplished recitalist, particularly in 20th-century French repertoire, Grace Durham’s recital engagements include Ravel Shéhérazade at the Les Journées Ravel festival in Montfort-L’Amaury, Schumann Frauenliebe und -leben in St-Jean-de-Luz (where she was the recipient of the Grand Prix de l’Académie Ravel) and Sous le ciel de Paris, a cabaret recital celebrating Poulenc, Jean Cocteau and Edith Piaf, at the St James Studio in London. She has also performed in recital at the Opéra Grand Avignon and at the Semperoper Dresden, where she sang frequently in the Semper Soiree concert series. Her concert and oratorio appearances include Bach B Minor Mass, Christmas Oratorio, St John Passion and St Matthew Passion, Berlioz Les Nuits d’Eté, Duruflé Requiem, Escaich Visions nocturnes and Mozart Mass in C Minor.
Engagements lost to COVID-19 include the title role in Carmen (in Concert) with the BBC Philharmonic, The Kitchen Boy Rusalka for Garsington Opera at Wormsley and the 2020 Edinburgh Festival, The Child L’Enfant et les sortilèges for English National Opera, further performances as Clare 4.48 Psychosis at the Semperoper Dresden and her recital debut at the Opéra national de Bordeaux.
Her current engagements include re-scheduled performances as The Kitchen Boy Rusalka for Garsington Opera, the title-role in Agrippina for the Fondation Royaumont, Second Maid Elektra at the Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse and recital debuts at the Opéra de Lille and the Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse. She also sings Chausson Poème de l’Amour et de la Mer with the Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz at the 2021 Festival Murten Classics, Ravel Schéhérazade with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra and Job’s Wife in Gregor Joseph Werner’s Job with Les Talens Lyriques at the Haydneum in Budapest.
Grace Durham continues her studies with Valérie Guillorit.
Please note that this biography is not to be used for programmes. Current information is available on request.
International Cesti Competition for Baroque Opera 2019
“In fact, nothing seems beyond her: she has a secure grasp of breath control, vocal flexibility, clarity of attack, quality of projection, energy and expressivity. Her vocal timbre is very attractive and her stage presence entirely convincing…the icing on the cake was the accompanied recitative preceding the aria – it was absolutely perfect, showing her to be a true actress…There is little doubt that one day Durham will be dazzling us with vocal fireworks in the manner of Hallenberg or Genaux.”
“The jury’s winner was mezzo-soprano Grace Durham from Great Britain, who was the final performer of the main concert, and sang again after the prizes were awarded. She chose not Handel but Johann Adolph Hasse’s Cleofide and from this opera presented the title character’s aria ‘Son qual misera colomba.’ She began with an extended recitative before putting the great flexibility of her warmly flowing mezzo-soprano to the test in breakneck runs. The variations and ornaments she added further allow us to imageine that this singer has a great career ahead of her.”
Online Musik Magazine
“we agree wholeheartedly with the jury’s verdict. The winner was the British mezzo-soprano Grace Durham, whose voice is rich and technically secure. More than with the Melani aria – in this case Acrimante’s ’Se d’amor la cruda sfinge’ – her extremely well deserved victory came with her second aria, ‘Son qual misera colomba’ from Hasse’s Cleofide, a score replete with obstacles not only in terms of coloratura but also, and especially, for the variety of colours it requires. All this goes to show that in competitions – at least in those as unarguably serious as the Cesti – the winners are those who dare to put themselves completely on the line.”
Le Salon Musical
Cherubino: Le nozze di Figaro / Semperoper Dresden
“Grace Durham’s Cherubino came up trumps.”
Seen and Heard International
From Purcell with Love / Les Talens Lyriques at the Innsbrucker Festwochen der Alten Musik
“Traditionally sung by light voices, Grace Durham surprises us with her full-voiced performance, with a rich, round and supple mezzo that gives weight to every note and every word. The text comes across clearly, as if spoken, and we rediscover this music in a new light.”
“Purcell’s dramatic and emotional genius, conveying pain through the vowel sounds, the nuances, the emphasis of the consonants and the precision of the coloratura – his ability to convey the varieties of love through his musical expression.”
Rosina: Il barbiere di Siviglia / Lyric Opera, Dublin
“Grace Durham was a pert Rosina.”
Clare: 4.48 Psychosis / Semperoper Dresden
“Grace Durham provides one of the most strongly emotional moments of the evening with a song in the style of Purcell.”
“The six excellent singers act and sing their challenging roles within the complex, multi-layered structure of the piece with intense passion and high-class vocalism.”
Songs of Richard Strauss / Semper Matinée, Semperoper Dresden
“The young mezzo-soprano Grace Durham performed her songs with dramatic commitment and a powerful voice.”