Ruth Ann Swenson
(August 25, 1959)
Ruth Ann Swenson is an American coloratura soprano.
She has achieved wide acclaim for her brilliance in coloratura roles.
Starting in the early 1980s Ruth Ann Swenson joined the Merola Program at the San Francisco Opera and toured the USA playing Gilda in Western Opera Theater's production of Rigoletto. It was a huge success for her.
Making her debut with the San Francisco Opera in 1983 she played Despina in Mozart's Così Fan Tutte but her real breakthrough role came later when she played Dorinda the shepherdess in Handel's Orlando with legendary mezzo Marilyn Horne.
In 1991 she made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera when she played Zerlina in Mozart's Don Giovanni and in 1993 she won the Richard Tucker Music Foundation Award.
Since then, she has gone on to appear in many of the world's great opera stages including the Opéra National de Paris, the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, the Berlin State Opera, the Grand Théâtre de Genève, the Hamburg State Opera, the Bavarian State Opera and the Chicago Lyric Opera.
Roles in her repertoire include Liù in Turandot, Rosina in The Barber of Seville, the four heroines in The Tales of Hoffmann, Elvira in I Puritani, Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, Gilda in Rigoletto (49 performances at the Met alone), Juliette in Roméo et Juliette and Giulietta in I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Violetta in La Traviata, Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, Adina in L'elisir d'Amore, Marguerite in Faust, the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, and Rodelinda in Rodelinda.
Ruth Ann Swenson is married to baritone David Burnakus whom she met when she was playing in the touring production of Rigoletto.
In 2006 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery and radio therapy.
In 2007 she returned to the stage singing the role of Marguerite in Faust at the Metropolitan Opera. One performance was broadcast internationally. In that same year she sang Cleopatra in Handel's Giulio Cesare- also broadcast from the Met as part of the Met's HD broadcast programme.
Also in 2007 she added Hannah Glawari (The Merry Widow) to her repertoire when she sang it with the Dallas Opera and in 2008 she played Ginevra in Handel's Ariodante with celebrated mezzo Susan Graham at the San Francisco Opera.
It was a landmark production for her in that it marked her 25th anniversary and association with them.
In 2008 she returned to the Met to sing Violetta and in 2010 she sang Musetta with them in La Boheme.