Merola Opera Program alumna and Schwabacher Award winner Susan Graham made her San Francisco Opera debut as Minerva in the 1990 production of Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria and returned in subsequent productions of La Clemenza di Tito (Annius) and Der Rosenkavalier (Octavian), in addition to creating the role of Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking. She also appeared with the Company in the title role of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride, a role she has performed to great acclaim at Royal Opera, Covent Garden; Paris Opera; Lyric Opera of Chicago; and the Salzburg Festival. Her most recent Company appearances were in the title roles of 2008’s Ariodante and 2011's Xerxes. Other recent career highlights include the title roles of The Merry Widow and L’Incoronazione di Poppea at Los Angeles Opera; Sesto (La Clemenza di Tito), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Marguerite (La Damnation de Faust), the Composer (Ariadne auf Naxos), and Octavian at the Metropolitan Opera, as well as creating the role of Sondra Finchley in Tobias Picker’s world premiere of An American Tragedy with that company; Charlotte (Werther) in Paris and Munich; Marguerite (La Damnation de Faust) with Lyric Opera of Chicago; the title role of Xerxes with Houston Grand Opera; the title role of Iphigénie en Tauride at the Met and Madrid’s Teatro Real, the Composer with Houston Grand Opera, and Poppea in Florence. Born in New Mexico and raised in Texas, the mezzo-soprano studied at Texas Tech University and the Manhattan School of Music. She was named Musical America’s 2004 Vocalist of the Year and was given the French government’s highest artistic title, Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.