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Hilary Summers

Contralto

Biography

Hilary Summers in action.
Hilary Summers as Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Earnest, The Royal Opera © ROH/Stephen Cummiskey, 2013

British mezzo-soprano Hilary Summers made her Royal Opera House debut in the 2014/15 Season as Mrs Darling (Ayres’s Peter Pan) with Welsh National Opera. She made her Royal Opera debut as Miss Prism (The Importance of Being Earnest) in the then Linbury Studio Theatre, with later performances at the Barbican Centre. In the 2019/20 Season she makes her Royal Opera main stage debut as White Queen (Gerald Barry’s Alice’s Adventures Under Ground).

A renowned interepretor of both baroque and contemporary repertoire, Summers has created roles including Stella (Carter’s What Next?) for Berlin State Opera, Irma (Peter Eötvös’s Le Balcon) at Aix-en-Provence Festival and Miss Prism (Gerald Barry’s The Importance of Being Earnest) with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In opera she has specialized in Handelian heroes such as the title role in Giulio Cesare, but her repertory also ranges from Mars (Legrenzi’s Il divisione del mondo) to Baba the Turk (The Rake’s Progress) and Mrs Sedley (Peter Grimes).

Summers works regularly with some of the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies, including Finnish Radio Symphony, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and Dutch National Opera. She recently made her debut appearance at La Scala, Milan, singing Nell in the world premiere of Kurtág’s Fin de Partie. Her many recordings include Handel’s Messiah with the Choir of King’s College Cambridge, Handel’s Lotario (Idelberto) with Alan Curtis and Il Complesso Barocco, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Hippolyta) with the LSO and Sir Colin Davis, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solonelle with TKC and Six Celan Songs by Michael Nyman. Hilary worked closely with the composer and conductor Pierre Boulez over many years and recorded his masterwork Le marteau sans maître with the Ensemble Intercontemporain, for which she won a Grammy.

Photos

Production photo of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Hilary Summers in Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Hilary Summers in Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Production photo of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Claudia Boyle and Hilary Summers in rehearsal for Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Ida Falk Winland as Cecily and Hilary Summers as Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Earnest

Production photo of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Clare Presland, Claudia Boyle and Hilary Summers in Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Production photo of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Claudia Boyle and Hilary Summers in rehearsal for Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Claudia Boyle and Hilary Summers in rehearsal for Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Hilary Summers as Miss Prism in The Importance of Being Earnest, The Royal Opera

The cast in rehearsal for Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Production photo of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Production photo of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Aidan Smith, Hilary Summers, Rebecca Bottone, Ashley Holland, Marie Arnet and Nicholas Sharratt in Keith Warner’s production of Peter Pan

Production photo of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Hilary Summers, Claire Presland and Mark Stone in rehearsal for Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, The Royal Opera

Hilary Summers