I was sitting in my dressing room and thought: “I’m just so tired of it only being okay to make sounds this way…” After years of conservatory training and work in opera and concert, I felt stifled by the obligation to only sing like a classical singer. To only express the human condition through operatic sounds. They began to feel so stifling, so limited in their ability to express the full range of the human condition. Humans make all KINDS of sounds in joy, grief, and everything in between, and different styles of music reflect different types of people, people from different social groups, different cultural heritages, all trying to communicate something authentic–truthfully and fully–to anyone within hearing distance. And I wanted the chance to bring more of these people to life. So I began new vocal and acting training and moved to NYC and began a new journey. If, by the end of my days, I have been granted the opportunities to bring not just Bizet’s “Carmen” to audiences, but people like Diana Goodman, Margaret Johnson, and Norma Desmond, I shall be exceedingly grateful indeed. Along the way, having these new vocal options available when interpreting the music of Charles Ives and Anthony Braxton is a real joy.
Elizabeth Saunders’ voice and artistic command are described by reviewers as “formidable”, “spectacular,” “creamy,” “sensuous,” “powerful,” “sweet,” and “perfect.” An uncommonly versatile singer-actress with eclectic artistic passions, Elizabeth is recognized by international Ives scholars as one of the most compelling artists to be performing the songs of Charles Ives today, and is now being promoted throughout the country with the concert program “Songs in the Key of Z: the songs of Charles Ives” with celebrated Ives scholar, pianist, and composer Neely Bruce. Her performances of the songs of Charles Ives also brought her to the attention of jazz legend, MacArthur Genius Grant awardee, and 2014 NEA Jazz Master Awardee Anthony Braxton, with whom she now sings as a core member of the company of 12 singers that performs and records his Trillium Cycle of “restructuralist” operas.
In addition to performing principal roles in traditional opera in the U.S., Europe, and Japan, musical theatre roles performed include the Old Lady in Bernstein’s CANDIDE, Cousin Hebe in H.M.S. PINAFORE, Meg in BRIGADOON and as a soloist in Pops concerts with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra, and the Unified Jazz Ensemble. International operatic appearances include, but are not limited to, the title role in CARMEN in Osaka, Japan, Florence Pike in ALBERT HERRING in Tokyo, Anna in Kurt Weill’s DIE BÜRGSCHAFT in Germany, and La Voce in Respighi’s LUCREZIA in Italy. Elizabeth has performed as mezzo soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at Carnegie Hall with the American Composers Orchestra, at Lincoln Center with Broadway composer and conductor Phil Hall, and at Le Poisson Rouge with Joseph Kubera, one of the world’s leading interpreters of contemporary music at the piano.
Now enjoying taking the stage in non-musical performance as well, Elizabeth premiered the role of Mrs. Vaughn in Nathan Wright’s PENINSULA for the Manhattan Repertory Theater’s New Works Plays Series. Recent screen work includes Bravo TV’s, Odd Mom Out and the upcoming film One Angry Black Man from Oscar and Emmy nominee Hans Charles.