The young, rising star dramatic soprano Sarah Marie Kramer
Sarah Marie is one of those rare finds: an exciting dramatic voice who is now being engaged to sing the most sought-after roles of her life. Within months of making the switch to the dramatic repertoire, her voice and talent were recognized by the Bayreuth Festival’s Katharina Wagner, who invited Sarah Marie to work intensively on Wagnerian roles at the Festival. The program for young Wagner singers, developed by Katharina Wagner, looks to discover the Wagnerian voices of the future, and the young Canadian Kramer perfectly fits that bill. While many of her peers and colleagues will identify as dramatic voices, Sarah Marie on the other hand recognizes that hers is a Wagnerian voice. At the behest of the celebrated Wagnerian soprano, Kammersängerin Linda Watson, Sarah Marie began the switch to Wagnerian repertoire, which, she says, felt like home for her voice. Quickly after her time as a young artist at the Bayreuth Festival, Sarah Marie was a finalist at the Lauritz Melchior International Singing Competition for Young Wagnerians. Additionally, she secured two contracts for Sieglinde.
“For a long time I was singing everything and nothing felt right, but with Wagner it all clicked. Not just for me, but for me and the industry.”
She stresses this was not something she had ever expected to come from her voice. It’s been an exciting time for Sarah Marie as she threw herself into the world of Wagner. She immersed herself completely, as her success to sign contracts in 2018 through to the 2024 season. All this was recognized by a second invitation by Katharine Wagner to be a Young Artist at the Festival. She’s presented several of the classic roles in concert; Elsa, Elisabeth, and Senta, but it is her debut of Sieglinde at Longborough Festival Opera that she has been most waiting for.
At the time that I spoke to Sarah Marie, she was in London for the rehearsals for her role and festival debut at Longborough Festival Opera, one of Britain’s most prestigious Summer opera festivals, which has been dedicated to the works of Wagner since its inception.
“It was really thrilling to finally land in England and jump into rehearsals after waiting a year; production like so much else had to be postponed due to the 2020 lockdowns.”
Despite the performance having to be socially distanced, she has loved developing the character of Sieglinde alongside the cycle’s director Amy Lane. Lane has been inventive in her staging and use of movement, despite what would have been understood as restrictions. Additionally, Sarah Marie has been energized by the creativity, consideration, energy, and positivity from Lane and her team.
Sarah Marie admits it was a hard time in 2020. She was about to make her Wiener Musikverein debut on the very day that the lockdown in Austria was imposed, and concert halls closed, and from that point on it was rolling postponements. Sarah Marie says she knows she is one of the fortunate ones. All of her major performances are still in the books for a later date and despite the lockdowns, she gained two new role debuts and contracts for Leonore in Beethoven’s Fidelio and Wagner’s Isolde. After the debut of Sieglinde, Sarah Marie will record her first CD in Germany: Wagner’s Wesendonck-Lieder and Strauss’ Four Last Songs with the Dresden Chamber Soloists of the Staatskapelle Dresden.
Sarah Marie’s voice is certainly one of a kind. It is crystal clear with all the freedom and top one looks for in a dramatic soprano, yet with a sumptuous middle with an incredibly rich low register. Hers is a voice you really do want to hear in person. Also, a committed actress, Sarah Marie throws herself unreservedly into the character. Her Sieglinde is full of delight, pain, ecstasy, and vulnerability. Not only a fine voice to serve this music, Sarah Marie also understands the nuances of the libretto and music need to create a three-dimensional Wagnerian character for the modern era.
These iconic Wagnerian roles are gradually being sung into Sarah Marie’s voice, though she is careful not to take on too much: many recognize the range and power of her voice and have excitedly offered her roles, which she says will come eventually, in the future. Sarah Marie does not shy away from what the voice is and will become. It’s been an exciting journey, and she is grateful to be mentored by some incredible Wagnerian singers.
Longborough Festival Opera will stream its new production of Die Walküre on 8 June 2021. It will be available for six months.
Follow Sarah Marie Kramer on Instagram (sarahmariekramer), Twitter (@SarahMarieKram1) and for additional details check out her website
Sarah Marie Kramer is a Canadian who is based in Vienna Austria.