Soprano Claire Booth has been noted for her combination of contemporary opera and traditional repertory in her concertizing, recordings, and video productions. Top composers from Britain and beyond have written music with her voice in mind.
Booth was born in the early 1980s in Britain’s Yorkshire region and studied at Oxford University, where she won double first-class honors and then at the Guildhall School of Music. Instinctively drawn to contemporary music, she attracted top composers to write works especially for her from the beginning of her career. The first of these was Oliver Knussen, who wrote the highly personal Requiem: Songs for Sue with Booth in mind in 2006; other premieres in which she has participated came from Harrison Birtwistle, George Benjamin, Elliott Carter, and Pierre Boulez. Yet Booth has also amassed a substantial repertory of traditional operatic works, becoming one of the few singers to excel in both fields. Booth sings the role of Rosina in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Elcia in Mosè in Egitto, and several other Rossini roles, as well as the title role in Janácek’s The Cunning Little Vixen.
Booth’s recording career began in 2010 with a Naxos album of works by Alun Hoddinott and has focused on contemporary music, with releases on NMC (Ryan Wigglesworth's Echo and Narcissus) as well as Naxos (Song Cycles by Jonathan Dove). In 2017, she released a set of Percy Grainger's folk song settings with Christopher Glynn as accompanist. Her concert appearances have included performances with top British orchestras, including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, as well as groups abroad, such as the Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Booth has broken new ground in the video recording of vocal music, collaborating over some years with director Netia Jones. These included, in the 2015-2016 season, a video recording of an unusual multimedia production of Georg Friedrich Haas’ Atthis, a setting for soprano and eight instruments of love poems by Sappho. That topped off a season in which Booth also appeared in works by Luigi Rossi, Ryan Wigglesworth, Oliver Knussen, Rossini, and Ravel — a variety matched by few other contemporary singers. During the 2019-2020 season, Booth appeared in Handel’s Berenice at the Royal Opera House in its first production of the opera since its 1737 Covent Garden premiere. Booth has continued to record for Avie, issuing two albums with accompanist Glynn, Edvard Grieg: Lyric Music in 2019, and Modest Mussorgsky: Unorthodox Music in 2021. She is a director of the Contemporary Performance course at the Britten Pears School in Aldeburgh, and she has increasingly often appeared as a radio presenter and regular contributor to BBC Radio 3′s Inside Music and Record Review. ~ James Manheim