Welsh contralto Hilary Summers studied at the Royal Academy of Music and the National Opera Studio. Her wide vocal range has attracted the attention of many composers. She created the roles of Stella in Carter’s What Next? for the Berlin State Opera in 1999 and Irma in Peter Eötvös’s Le balcon at the Aix-en Provence Festival in 2002. Since 2002 she has performed Boulez’s Le marteau sans maître throughout Europe with the Ensemble Intercontemporain under Boulez himself, recorded it with Boulez, as well as performing it with other ensembles and conductors most recently at the 2012 BBC Proms.
She has also established a reputation in Baroque music and sings with many of Europe’s leading early-instrument orchestras. In opera she has specialised in Handelian heroes such as the title-role in Giulio Cesare, but her repertoire ranges from Mars in Legrenzi’s Il divisione del mondo to Mescalina in Ligeti’s Le Grande Macabre, Hippolyta A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Baba the Turk The Rake’s Progress, Gaea Daphne and Mrs Sedley Peter Grimes.
Recent engagements include concerts at the Aldeburgh, Holland, Edinburgh festivals, and performances at the Liceu in Barcelona, Frankfurt Opera and Salzburg Festival. The 2014–15 season included her debuts with Welsh National Opera in Richard Ayre’s Peter Pan and Canadian Opera Company in Handel’s Semele.
Recently she created the role of Miss Prism in Gerald Barry’s The Importance of Being Earnest with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and at the Linbury Studio of the Royal Opera House which will be revived in the 2015–16 season in London and New York.
Hilary Summers’s recordings include Handel’s Messiah (King’s College, Cambridge), Idelberto in Handel’s Lotario (Il Complesso Barocco), Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle (The King’s Consort), Michael Nyman’s Six Celan Songs and Rosmira in Handel’s Partenope, Juno/Ino Semele, Teodata Flavio, Amastre Serse and Disinganno Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno, all for Chandos with Christian Curnyn and the Early Opera Company.