Cynthia Clayton

Suggested Operatic Repertoire
Review Excerpts

Cynthia Clayton has been an audience favorite for her performances of leading lyric soprano roles for over twenty years. She recently enjoyed great critical as well as popular accolades for her first performances in the title role of Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas with Utah Opera. Previously with that same company, she sang her first performances of Puccini’s Tosca, a role she repeated the following season with Houston Grand Opera. Ms. Clayton has debuted with a number of prominent opera companies to extraordinary success, including Houston Grand Opera as Mimì in La bohème; New York City Opera as Musetta in La bohème; Dallas Opera and Lyric Opera of Kansas City as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni; Utah Opera as Mimì; and Central City Opera as Penelope in the North American premiere of Britten’s Gloriana. Her New York City Opera credits also include appearances as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly, Mimì, and the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro. She achieved great audience and critical acclaim for her performances of Janáček’s Jenůfa with Utah Opera. She appeared with San Diego Opera as Mary Willis in Floyd’s Cold Sassy Tree, as well as Musetta and Micaëla  (in veteran conductor Richard Bonynge’s first performances of La bohème and Carmen), followed by a triumphant return to Festival Opera in the title role of Floyd’s Susannah, appearing most recently with that company as Desdemona in Verdi’s Otello.   She has appeared both as Micaëla and as Marguerite in Faust with Cleveland Opera. In addition, she has sung Violetta in La traviata in Belgium; Madama Butterfly with Houston Grand Opera, Anchorage Opera, Intermountain Opera and Fort Worth Opera; Liù in Turandot with Knoxville Opera; Nedda in Pagliacci with Opera Delaware and Festival Opera; Countess Almaviva with Orlando Opera; Massenet’s Manon  with Arizona Opera; Alice Ford (in Verdi’s Falstaff) with Utah Opera; Susannah with Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre; Manon Lescaut with Intermountain Opera; Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Mimì, and Nedda, all with Festival Opera. She has appeared with Opera Santa Barbara as Mimì; and with the New West Symphony as Violetta.

Ms. Clayton’s concert performances have included Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Verdi’s Requiem, Mahler’s Second Symphony, Britten’s War Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Mozart’s Requiem and Solemn Vespers, Brahms’ Requiem, Poulenc’s Gloria, and Debussy’s La Damoiselle Élue, as well as numerous recitals and chamber music performances, including Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire. Her symphony appearances include credits with the Houston Symphony and San Jose Symphony, among many others.

Early in her career, Ms. Clayton completed a Principal Artist Residency with Opera San Jose, including performances of such roles as Tatyana, Violetta, Fiordiligi, Micaëla, Léïla, Donna Elvira, Gilda, Rosina, Mimì, Pamina, the Countess, Cio-Cio San, The Merry Widow, and George Roumanis’ Phaedra, the latter of which she performed in the world-premiere stage version as well as in the Emmy-nominated adaptation Ode to Phaedra, broadcast by KTEH.   She is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles (BA, Music) and the University of Southern California (MM, Vocal Arts).

In 2005, Ms. Clayton joined the faculty of the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston, and has earned the rank of Associate Professor of Voice.


Suggested Operatic Repertoire

BrittenTurn of the ScrewGoverness
FloydCold Sassy TreeMary Willis/Love Simpson
MozartCosí fan tutteFiordiligi
MozartDon GiovanniDonna Anna/Donna Elvira
MozartLe nozze di FigaroCountess
MozartDie ZauberflötePamina
OffenbachLes contes d'HoffmannAntonia
PucciniLa bohémeMimi/Musetta
PucciniMadama ButterflyCio-Cio San
TchaikovskyEugene OneginTatyana
VerdiFalstaffAlice Ford
VerdiSimon BoccanegraAmelia

Review Excerpts

Lyric Opera of Kansas City – Don Giovanni
“Donna Anna, as sung by Cynthia Clayton, was an aristocratic lady whose smoldering passions were only thinly veiled. Her voice has sufficient weight and dramatic color for this part and she handled its most difficult coloratura passages with ease.”
Opera Japonica, May 2004

Utah Opera’s La boheme
“Cynthia Clayton, singing the role of Mimi, is terrific. In addition to her beautiful voice, Clayton brings liveliness and spirit to a character who is sometimes portrayed as sickly sweet.”
Deseret News, January 20, 2003

Festival Opera’s Susannah
“In the title role, Cynthia Clayton gave a performance of heart-breaking tenderness and vitality, using her full-bodied soprano to depict Susannah’s harrowing downfall at the hands of mass righteousness. The melodic phrases of her famous Act 1 aria, ‘Ain’t it a pretty night,’ arched dreamily with the joy of being alive, while the mournful ballad of Act 2… drew a devastating emotional contrast.”
San Francisco Chronicle, August 12, 2002

Central City Opera – Gloriana (North American Premiere)
“Lady Rich was sung by the sure-fire Cynthia Clayton”
Opera, January 2002

“Elizabeth Batton and Cynthia Clayton are fully in command of Ladies Essex and Rich.”
The Daily Camera, July 23, 2001

New York City Opera – La boheme
“The American soprano Cynthia Clayton was a becoming Mimi, by turns shy, sweet and flirtatious… Ms. Clayton has a warm, affecting voice… she phrased with lyrical suppleness, and this was overall a lovely performance.”
The New York Times, October 19, 1999

Cleveland Opera – Faust
“Cynthia Clayton sang one of the best Marguerites I have ever encountered. Vocal clarity with beauty of tone made the Jewel Song into a lyric extravaganza. A feeling of totally elegant charm and control made her performance riveting, a tragic heroine rather than simple village maiden.”
Opera, March 1997

Festival Opera – I Pagliacci
“Cynthia Clayton sang the role of the beautiful actress Nedda with a seductive surety and soaring soprano.”
The Oakland Tribune, July 16, 1997

“Cynthia Clayton’s Nedda boasts a rich, velvety soprano that is perfect for the part. This is a warm, vibrantly sexy Nedda, full of desire for Silvio… Yet she’s touchingly human and given to conflicting emotions, adding depth to the character.” – The Times, July 14, 1997