Susan Larson was born in New York and studied music at Indiana University and New England Conservatory. She began singing professionally in Boston in 1967, eventually anchoring her musical life at Emmanuel Church with her friend and mentor Craig Smith.
In 1980, Smith and Larson met director Peter Sellars, and an impromptu opera company began to form. The soprano sang roles in Smith and Sellars’s collaborations of Handel’s Saul and Orlando, as well as originating the roles of Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte and Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro and Cleopatra in Handel’s Giulio Cesare at the PepsiCo Festival in New York. She repeated the role of Fiordiligi at the Theater der Welt festival in Stuttgart, where the production won top honors: she sang Cleopatra in Paris, Brussels and Berlin, and Cherubino in Barcelona, where the show enchanted the young and horrified the old.
The Sellars-Smith productions were filmed for London Records and are available to view on Netflix.
Larson sang at the Bolshoi in Moscow in Sarah Caldwell’s production of Robert Di Domenica’s The Balcony, on the eve of Gorbachev’s overthrow. She also sang Cleopatra in Berlin as the Wall was coming down. Regime change follows her wherever she goes.
In addition to the Sellars-Smith productions, Larson premiered several works by composer John Harbison, created many song recitals, and sang significant works of the Baroque, Renaissance and Medieval periods. She also received a Boston Critic’s Award for her performances in The Boys from Syracuse at the American Repertory Theater.
In retirement, Larson worked as music writer for the Boston Globe from 1995 to 2000, as well as a singing teacher and lecturer. She is considered by many to have one of the best senses of humor in the MetroBoston area.
Her book “Sam (a Pastoral)” was published in 2012 and is available for online purchase. She is now finishing a new book, an operatic murder mystery. (http://susanlarsonauthor.wordpress.com)