Soprano Brenda Harris appears regularly in leading roles with many of the world’s most prominent opera companies and orchestra. Recent engagements have taken her to the stages of The Metropolitan Opera, to Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Italy, Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center, New York City Opera, Opera du Rhin in Strasbourg, Michigan Opera Theatre, the Canadian Opera Company, Edmonton Opera and Opera Theatre of St. Louis, among others. During the 2013- 2014 season Ms. Harris returns to the Minnesota Opera as Lady Macbeth in Macbeth and as June Mathis in Dominick Argento’s The Dream of Valentino.
The 2012 - 2013 season was of particular significance to the soprano, and was highlighted by her debut of a major work for soprano and orchestra entitled Should This Be Found by noted composer Perry Goldstein, based on the discovered diary of Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott. Her Elektra with Des Moines Metro Opera received rave reviews including from Opera News which wrote she “delivered a stunning account of the vengeful Greek princess, distinguished by scrupulous observation of the score, including the marked pianissimos that are so rarely heard....Harris’s formidable achievement would easily transfer to a larger house, where she would sing the role more completely than most of her current competition.” Opera Today wrote of that same performance “I know of no one singing Elektra today that is performing it this well. Ms. Harris has a full-bodied soprano that 'speaks' in all registers and at all volume levels. The top has a laser-beam intensity and pinpoint accuracy that rides the orchestra without strain. Her tossed off comments and bitchy asides were equally present. And owing to her solid technique, Brenda sounds as fresh at the end of the night's challenges as she was at the start. Today's 'Elektra of Choice' has arrived.”
Additional engagements during the 2012 - 2013 season included Elisabetta in Maria Stuarda with Washington Concert Opera, Leonora in Fidelio with Utah Opera, and Abigaille in Nabucco with Minnesota Opera for which Opera News wrote “The singing was remarkable. Pride of place goes to soprano Brenda Harris, a local favorite, who not only faced down the famously treacherous role of Abigaille but humanized the character, offering nuance where others are content to scream.” She also offered a role debut as Turandot with Sarasota Opera prompting Opera News to praise “Brenda Harris, a soprano of Wagnerian heft, who made a powerful role debut as the riddling Princess and sang a stirring, keenly projected "In questa reggia."
A highlight of the 2011-2012 season was performances of Odabella in Attila of which The Washington Post reported “Not only did she nail tricky coloratura passages, she shaped her lines so that she delivered the most at climactic moments…in this repertory, she’s ahead of the pack, including singers much better known than she is.”
Engagements during the 2010-11 season included the title role of Norma with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, prompting KCMetropolis to write: “Norma exists as a vehicle for its singers and what a spectacular vehicle it is. Brenda Harris, in the title role, treated the audience on Saturday’s opening night to a master class of vocal elegance and beauty.” Additional performances included Elizabeth in Maria Stuarda with Minnesota Opera, and Madame Lidoine in Dialogue of the Carmelites with Des Moines Metro Opera. Reviews for her performance as the title role of Norma with Tulsa Opera included “Her performance was filled with moments that just about took the breath away.” (Tulsa World)
During the previous season she portrayed Lady Macbeth in Macbeth with Utah Opera, Opera Lyra Ottawa, and Des Moines Metro Opera, and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Lyric Opera of Kansas City where she “sang with remarkable emotional range, expressive power and raw beauty.” (Kansas City Star) Her Elisabetta in Roberto Devereux with Minnesota Opera received rave reviews including “In soprano Brenda Harris the company has an Elizabeth of surpassing gifts, wholly equal to the rigors of the role,” (Star Tribune) and “Harris executed the golden and silver filigree the bel-canto singing style demands with a thrilling control infused with the passionate discontent of a queen wronged.” (Minn Post)
Previous seasons have found Miss Harris portraying the title roles of Tosca with Opera Cleveland, Ariadne auf Naxos in a new production with the Utah Opera, and Norma with the Portland Opera. Additionally, she sang Lady MacBeth in Macbeth with both the Arizona Opera and Edmonton Opera, and Alice Ford in Falstaff with the Fort Worth Opera. On the concert stage she sang Daron Hagen’s Shining Brow with the Buffalo Symphony, Strauss’ Four Last Songs with the New Haven Symphony, Schubert’s Mass No. 6 in E-flat with the Music of the Baroque with Jane Glover, and participated in a Gala Concert with the Stichting Veerhavenconcert in Rotterdam with Joel Levy. She was also featured in recital at Brenau University in Atlanta. With Maestro Keith Lockhart at the podium, Ms. Harris was a soloist for Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony with the Utah Symphony.
Other Notable highlights include portraying Vitellia in La Clemenza di Tito with the Metropolitan Opera, the title role of Agrippina, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and Arminda in La Finta Giardiniera all with the New York City Opera, Chrysothemis in Strauss' Elektra with Austin Lyric Opera, both the title role in Agrippina and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni at the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center, and the title role in Norma with the Minnesota Opera, Portland Opera and Michigan Opera Theatre.
In Europe, Ms. Harris has appeared in Spoleto, Italy as Eva in Die Meistersinger, with Opera du
Rhin in Strasbourg as both Vitellia in La Clemenza di Tito and as the title role of Barber's Vanessa. On the concert stage, she has performed as a soloist with the St. Louis Symphony, the Orchestra of St. Luke's, Chicago's Music of the Baroque, Honolulu Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, and Boston Baroque, and has offered numerous concerts at Carnegie Hall with the Oratorio Society of New York.
Ms. Harris has made a habit of varying her career choices by successfully alternating 20th Century and contemporary music (Schoenberg's Moses und Aaron, Strauss's Elektra, Kurt Weill's Street Scene, Barber's Vanessa, Hagen's Shining Brow, and Shostakovich's Lady MacBeth of Mtsensk) with the great standards (the title characters of Norma, Ariadne and Tosca, Alice Ford in Falstaff and Lady MacBeth in MacBeth et al) as well as the occasional Baroque masterpieces (Handel's Agrippina, Tolemeo, and Deidamia). In addition to these, she has excelled in the dramatic bel canto roles of Donizetti (Roberto Devereux, Maria Stuarda, Anna Bolena, Maria Padilla) and Rossini (Semiramide, Ermione, Armida).
Brenda Harris has recorded leading roles for Newport Classic, including Scarlatti's Ishmael, Handel's Deidamia and Haydn's La Cantarina and The Creation, and on the Vox label, Handel's Tolomeo. Naxos released a recording of Shining Brow in the fall of 2008.