Harriet Williams

Harriet Williams studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and took part in televised Masterclasses with Barbara Bonney and Sir Thomas Allen at the Linbury Studio Theatre, and with Brigitte Fassbänder at the Wigmore Hall.

Harriet Williams made her Royal Opera début as the Erster Knappe Parisfal, her English National Opera début as Polinesso Ariodante and her début with the Royal Ballet as the featured soloist in Michael Corder’s L’Invitation au Voyage in which she sang six of Duparc’s songs on stage at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Harriet Williams’ operatic roles also include the title roles in Carmen and Ariodante, Bradamante Alcina, Waltraute Die Walküre, Ottavia, Arnalta and Fortuna L’incoronazione di Poppea (latter recorded for BBC Television), Dido Dido and Aeneas, Mistress Quickly Falstaff, Fenena Nabucco, Hannah Kennedy Maria Stuarda, Smeaton Anna Bolena, Flora and Annina La traviata, Marcellina Le nozze di Figaro, Suzuki and Kate Pinkerton Madama Butterfly, Angelina La cenerentola, Rosina Il barbiere di Siviglia, Albine Thais, Hippolyta A Misdummer Night’s Dream, Governess Queen of Spades, Nenila The Enchantress, Parseis Esclarmonde (Massenet), and Old Sister I Babette’s Feast (John Browne).

Harriet Williams’ international engagements have included Mrs Olsen Street Scene for Opera de Toulon, at the Théâtre du Châtelet Paris and at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, Maria in the Italian premiere of For You by Michael Berkeley to a libretto by Ian McEwan at the Teatro Olimpico in Rome.

In the UK Harriet Williams has sung principal roles with Welsh National Opera, English Touring Opera, Opera Holland Park, Grange Park Opera, Longborough Festival Opera and the Early Opera Company. She sang Mab La jolie fille de Perth with Chelsea Opera Group and Mrs Olsen Street Scene (Weill) for The Opera Group, which was voted ‘Best Musical’ in the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. She also took part in a series of specially commissioned new operas for BBC 2 Television.

Harriet Williams has performed under the baton of Petr Altrichter, Sir Colin Davis, Sir Bernard Haitink, Sir Antonio Pappano, Owain Arwel Hughes, Sir Neville Marriner, Christopher Moulds, Wolfgang Seeliger Vladimir Jurowsky, and Carlo Rizzi. She has sung with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, the London Philharmonic, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Her concert repertoire includes Bach Christmas Oratorio and St Matthew Passion, Beethoven Ninth Symphony, Elgar Dream of Gerontius and The Music Makers, Handel Messiah, the Mahler Rückertlieder, Mendelssohn Elijah, Mozart Mass in C Minor and Requiem, Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle and Stabat Mater, Saint-Saëns Requiem, Storge Jephtha, Verdi Requiem, and Vivaldi Gloria.

Harriet Williams’s recent concert engagements have included Handel’s Messiah in London’s Royal Albert Hall, Haydn’s Harmoniemesse and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Ravel’s Chansonnes Madecesse with the Northern Sinfonia at The Sage, Gateshead and on tour in Hong Kong, and Bach Cantata No 21 with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Sakari Oramo, also broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

Harriet Williams repeated the role of Mrs Olsen in the recent revival of Street Scene for The Opera Group. Her other recent opera performances include Mrs Rogers The Doctor’s Tale by Anne Dudley and Terry Jones in the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House, and The Hostess The Pardoner's Tale at Stour Festival. With English Touring Opera she appeared as Rosina Il barbiere di Siviglia and Madame Larina Eugene Onegin for English Touring Opera.

Harriet Williams’s recent engagements include Girl Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny for The Royal Opera, Covent Garden, where she previously sang Flosshilde Der Ring des Nibelungen, Brangäne Tristan und Isolde and Waltraute Die Walküre for Longborough Festival Opera, Flosshilde in excerpts from Das Rheingold with the London Philharmonic and the world première of An Eye for an Eye by Jessica Walker at the Bath and the St Magnus International Festivals.

Forthcoming engagements include Brangäne Tristan und Isolde at Longborough Festival Opera and Mrs Olsen and Nursemaid Street Scene at the Teatro Real in Madrid.

March 2016                                                                                                                      

Flosshilde / Das Rhinegold / LPO, Jurowski, Royal Festival Hall, 22 January 2015

" . . .  Not everyone suffered singing from a space physically above the orchestra, however. All three Rhinemaidens projected vividly, with Harriet Williams as Flosshilde in particularly luscious and buttery mezzo voice. . .”

                                                                     Matthew Wright, The Arts Desk

Flosshilde – Der Ring des Nibelungen – The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Oct ‘12

“. . .and among the Rheinmaidens I particularly liked Harriet Williams in the role of Flosshilde as she sings seductively to Alberich. . .”

                                                                                                Mark Ronan

Maria / For You by Michael Berkeley and Ian McEwan / Teatro Olimpico, Rome

‘ . . .in ordine di bravura, il mezzosoprano Harriet Williams (la cameriera) . . .”

“ . . . in order of excellence, the mezzo soprano Harriet Williams (the maid)  (was first) . . .”

Avvenire

“ . . . i cantanti, fra cui si e distinta in assoluto La Williams / Maria con un ‘ottima interpretazione e una bella presenza scenica. . .”

“ . . . the most distinguished among the singers (was) (Harriet) Williams / Maria with the best interpretation and a beautiful stage presence. . .”

Il giornale della musica

 “ … il mezzosoprano Harriet Williams, senz’altro la personalità piu spiccata dell’intero cast. . .”

 “ . . . the mezzo soprano Harriet Williams, without doubt the strongest personality of the entire cast. . .”

 Unita

“ …mention d’onore per la colf “in love” del mezzo Harriet Williams. . .”

 “ . . . honourable mention for the infatuated (colf) of the mezzo Harriet Williams. . .”

La Stampa

“ …e della bravura dei cantanti, in particolare della cameriera polacca di Harriett Williams. . .”

“ . . . and the skill of the singers, in particular the Polish maid of Harriet Williams. . .”

Classic Voice

 Mezzo Soloist / L’Invitation au Voyage (Royal Ballet Triple Bill) at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

“ . . .Harriet Willams moves, as she sings, with unfailing rightness, her French impeccable) . . .”

Clement Crisp / Financial Times

“ . . .beautifully sung by mezzo soprano Harriet Williams. . .”

Geraldine Bedell / The Guardian

 Fenena / Nabucco / Dorset Opera

“ . . .The singer I would hurry to hear more to hear more of was the touching Fenena, Harriet Williams: there is a rich quality to this attractively formed voice that bodes well. . .”

 Roderic Dunnett / Opera

Smeaton / Anna Bolena / Tower of London

“ . . .Harriet Williams a mellow contralto as poor infatuated Smeaton, musician to the Queen. . .”

Hilary Finch / The Times

Hannah / Maria Stuarda / Grange Park Opera

“ . . .Harriet Williams reveals a lovely, distinctive mezzo as Hannah. . .”

The Times

“ . . .Harriet Williams (Hannah) is the find of the season: a polished mezzo with natural authority. . .”

The Independent on Sunday

Nenila / The Enchantress / Grange Park Opera

“ . . .with particular praise for Harriet Williams (Nenila), who sounds destined for more substantial things. . .”

 Rober Parker / Opera

Ariodante / Ariodante / Early Opera Company

“ . . .Ariodante’s own sudden fall from puppyish optimism to black despair (and back to maddened joy) was brilliantly done by Harriet Williams, a warm-toned mezzo with all the heart for scherza and the half-crazed aerobatics for ‘Dopo notte’. . .”

Robert Thicknesse / Opera Now

“ . . .Harriet Williams gave a high-octane performance in the title-role of Handel’s Ariodante in the tiny cloister at Iford, near Bath, with Christian Curnyn’s excellent Early Opera Company. . .”

“ . . .Audiences are close enough to scrutinise every wrinkle and pore of the performance, but Williams’ infectious gusto remained unhindered . . .”

Opera Now : ‘Who’s Hot’

 Angelina / La Cenerentola / Clonter Opera

“ . . .The production’s plum was Harriet Williams, How rarely a young singer emerges with the verve and range to manage Rossini’s contralto Cenerentola. But here is one. Her mellow tone and positive pitching paid countless dividends – never more than in her magnificent coloratura over the closing quintet. . .”

The Independent

“ . . .The all-round strength of the cast was quickly underlined by the lustrous mezzo of Harriet Williams as Cenerentola, a voice which will doubtless grace bigger stages with greater regularity. . .”

Manchester Evening News

“ . . .Watch for the name Harriet Williams, a dusky tinted mezzo who has the highs and lows of Cinderella’s music easily within her compass and sings with sparkling flair. . .”

The Sunday Telegraph

Kate Pinkerton / Madama Butterfly / Clonter Opera

“ . . .If I were a talent scout I would have to put a big plus against the name of Harriet Williams, whose brief appearance as Kate Pinkerton was enough to call attention to a mezzo voice of exceptional promise and lustre. . .”

The Sunday Telegraph

Harriet Williams