Scottish mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill is one of the most renowned singers of her generation. Winner of the 2002 Kathleen Ferrier Award, Karen has gone on to be nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Operatic Recording as part of the Metropolitan Opera’s recording of Dialogues des Carmélites. In July 2018 Karen was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Karen’s operatic roles include Geneviève Pelléas et Mélisande, Judith Bluebeard’s Castle, Mère Marie Dialogues des Carmélites, Dryade Ariade auf Naxos, Dido Dido and Aeneas & Anna Les Troyens. Famed for her interpretation of Wagner, Karen regularly sings Erda Das Rheingold and Siegfried, Fricka Das Rheingold, Brangäne Tristan und Isolde, Waltraute Götterdämmerung and Magdalena Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. This season Karen makes her debut as Zia Principessa in Puccini’s Il trittico for Scottish Opera directed by Sir David McVicar and returns to Glyndebourne as Mère Marie in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites cond. Robin Ticciati.
Recent operatic engagements have included Brangäne Tristan und Isolde at Glyndebourne, while other past highlights include appearances at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Metropolitan Opera, New York; Deutsche Oper Berlin; the BBC Proms and Glyndebourne and Edinburgh International festivals, with roles including Waltraute Götterdämmerung; Erda Das Rheingold and Siegfried; Brangäne Tristan und Isolde; Mère Marie Dialogues des Carmélites, and Judith Bluebeard’s Castle.
In huge demand on the concert platform, Karen’s recent engagements have included Berlioz La damnation de Faust with DSO Berlin and Robin Ticciati; Mahler Rückert-Lieder with the CBSO and Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla; Elgar Sea Pictures with Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra cond. Thomas Søndergård and with the London Symphony Orchestra cond. Sir Antonio Pappano; Judith in Bartók Bluebeard’s Castle with both the LSO cond. Sir Simon Rattle and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin cond. Christian Schumann; Das Lied von der Erde with WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln and Cristian Măcelaru; Mahler Symphony No. 2 with both Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de España cond. David Afkham and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Markus Stenz; Beethoven Missa Solemnis with the Philadelphia Orchestra & Lieder by Alma Mahler with Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, both conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius with Sir Andrew Davis in the closing concert of the 2022 Edinburgh International Festival.
In the 22/23 season Karen sings Mahler Symphony No. 2 with both the Deutsche Oper Berlin cond. Paolo Bortolameolli and Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal cond. Rafael Payare; Schoenberg Gurrelieder and Berlioz La damnation de Faust, both with the London Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Edward Gardner; Mahler Symphony No. 3 and Das Lied von der Erde with Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin cond. Robin Ticciati & Bluebeard’s Castle cond. Sir Richard Armstrong with São Paulo State Symphony. The 23/24 season sees Karen return to the Metropolitan Opera for performances of Verdi Requiem cond. Nézet-Séguin as well as a return to Glyndebourne and performances with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin amongst others.
With her recital partner Simon Lepper Karen has performed at Wigmore Hall London; Concertgebouw Amsterdam; Kennedy Centre Washington, and Carnegie Hall New York, and regularly gives recitals for BBC Radio 3. With Simon, Karen also recently recorded a critically acclaimed recital of Lieder by Alma and Gustav Mahler for Linn Records, for whom she has previously recorded Berlioz Les nuits d’été and La mort de Cléopâtre with Robin Ticciati and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
Karen is Patron of the National Girls’ Choir of Scotland.