Deborah Sanders

Arts Management

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Mary Elizabeth Williams shines in "Erwartung" with San Francisco Symphony

Arbour Artists is thrilled to share two outstanding reviews that Mary Elizabeth Williams received for her recent performance in Arnold Schoenberg’s “Erwartung” with San Francisco Symphony.

“The musicians were very clear and together, while soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams sounded hearty, always able to cut through the lush orchestration…The one vocal soloist, soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams, was utterly focused and very strong. Her voice is well-supported from top to bottom and her high notes are crystalline without being the least bit shrill. She sounded robust no matter how she was positioned, whether she was standing or lying down, it did not seem to matter. Her German diction was clear as were the emotions of the text. It was an intense 33 minutes.”

The Opera Tattler, June 9, 2024

Photograph by Kristen Loken
“Those adaptations mattered less than Williams, who deployed a hefty but agile soprano and an astonishing range with richness in notes well above and below the staff. Her understanding of the character’s ravings was palpable. Reflecting her detailed study of the score, she even wrote the English translation of Marie Pappenheim’s intentionally semi-coherent libretto for the projected titles and the program.

‘The text’, she wrote in a program note, ‘careens, uncontrolled and without warning, between present and past; reality and imagination, coherence and instability’. That translated in performance to a winning approach. ‘The shock causes her mind to run through the stages of grief at warp speed’, which the audience can ‘witness, as it happens, from a front-row seat inside her head’.

I had not read these notes before Williams’s intense, hyper-real performance wowed me. But that is exactly how she played it, as Schoenberg’s music traced this psychological chaos, untethered by tonality or a listener’s expectations of where the melody might go, jumping from one partially expressed thought to another, right along with the singer’s words.

With the support of Salonen and a hyper-responsive orchestra, the performance made spectacular sense of what might first strike a listener as nonsense. It found coherence in Schoenberg’s music like no other production I have experienced.”

Mary Elizabeth’s portrayal in “Erwartung” exemplifies her exceptional talent and dedication to her craft. We are incredibly proud to represent such a remarkable artist at Arbour Artists.


Stay tuned for more updates on Mary Elizabeth Williams and other talented artists we represent.



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