Skip to main content

Jane Eaglen to Join Faculty

Wagnerian soprano to teach full-time at Conservatory beginning September 2013.

NEC Announces Engagement of Dramatic Soprano Jane Eaglen to Full-time Faculty

Latest Enhancement to Opera/Voice Program, Her Appointment to Take Effect in Fall 2013

Ms. Eaglen's voice remains a natural wonder. Without any sense of exertion, she filled Wagner's phrases with a gleaming sound that shimmered throughout the house. Yet, for all its power her voice has a tenderly feminine quality when she wants it to.—Anthony Tommasini, on performance of "Tristan und Isolde," "New York Times," Oct. 2, 2003

Dramatic soprano Jane Eaglen, one of the foremost Wagnerian singers of our time, has been engaged to teach full-time at New England Conservatory, beginning in fall 2013.  Eaglen, who has expanded her teaching career in recent years even as she continued to perform, led a highly successful residency at NEC in October that featured three public masterclasses plus private coaching of individual students. Her appointment is the latest initiative in the Conservatory’s campaign to enhance its opera-voice curriculum, making it one of the school’s signature programs. Previously a Senior Artist-in-Residence at the University of Washington and currently on the faculty of Baldwin-Wallace University Conservatory of Music, the soprano will move to the Boston area with her husband as she takes up her duties at the Conservatory.

Reached at her Berea, Ohio office, Eaglen expressed excitement over her new position and recalled the residency week in October that clinched the deal for her. “I worked every day for a week with young singers and was constantly amazed by the standard they demonstrated,” she said. “There was one great voice after another. I’ve been lucky enough to sing all over the world and have been fascinated by the many different voices I’ve encountered and how they work. I’m eager to pass on the knowledge I’ve received from my incredible teacher and colleagues and to help students develop their voices to the greatest extent possible.”

Not since the days of Birgit Nilsson and Jon Vickers had two singers sung the roles so excitingly. —Anthony Tommasini, on performance of "Tristan und Isolde" with Eaglen and Ben Heppner, "New York Times," Oct. 2, 2003

British-born, Eaglen (who became a US citizen in 2007) is renowned for her performances of Bellini’s Norma, the Brünnhildes in Wagner’s Ring Cycle, and Isolde in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. She has sung with most of the major opera companies in the world including the Metropolitan Opera (which revived Tristan for her and Ben Heppner in 1999), the Seattle Opera Company, Covent Garden, and the Vienna Staatsoper, and she has worked with the most prominent conductors from James Levine to Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim and Riccardo Muti. In Boston, she has appeared on several occasions with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, performing Brünnhilde’s "Immolation Scene" with Kurt Masur and the Mahler Eighth Symphony with Levine on the occasion of Levine’s inaugural concert as music director.

(…“heroic Jane Eaglen flinging out high C’s…”—Richard Dyer,"The Boston Globe," Oct. 23, 2004 at the Mahler "Eighth" performance inaugurating James Levine’s BSO music directorship)

Even at the pinnacle of success, the soprano is well-known for her lack of pretension and jovial good humor. Her engagement at NEC, then, offers young singers the opportunity to work with a world renowned artist who combines real world professional experience with approachability and a dedication to the wellbeing of students. As Stephen Lord, Artistic Advisor for Opera, remarked: “Not only has Jane had a significant career in genres of music from the bel canto to the Verdi and Wagner heroines, but she has seen the business now from both sides, both as performer and master teacher. Combined with an honest and caring humility, she will no doubt create an atmosphere that is very important in a school striving for the very best. Given her vast repertoire experience, recruiting of voices with potential for the larger repertoire will be enhanced along with the NEC's reputation.”

Tony Woodcock, NEC President, called Eaglen’s appointment “one of the most significant faculty additions in recent years. It would be hard to find another singer who combines so many extraordinary strengths including deep musical artistry, broad professional experience at the highest level, warmth of personality, and appreciation for the wide range of voices and how they are produced. We are profoundly moved and grateful that Jane has chosen to share those qualities with NEC.”

Joshua Major concurred: “Jane brings a stunning career, breathtaking artistry, brilliant teaching and deep knowledge of the opera world to the classrooms of NEC.” And Luretta Bybee, Chair of Vocal Arts, added: “Her generosity is palpable and her artistry is formidable.  I am thrilled to welcome her to the faculty of NEC and look forward to watching the voice department continue to grow and develop with Jane's presence.”

Jane Eaglen biography

With a reputation as one of the leading sopranos in the modern era, Jane Eaglen has enjoyed unique success with opera’s greatest composers: Bellini, Mozart, Puccini, Strauss, and Wagner. Notably, her interpretations of Wagner have led fans and critics alike to proclaim her a worthy successor to Leider, Flagstad, Traubel and Nilsson. Reviewers have praised Ms. Eaglen’s “Isolde for an irresistible vocal passion rarely heard since the days of Nilsson” and have called her “the first soprano since Ms. Nilsson to make singing the role seem natural.”

About the 2010 opera premiere of Daren Hagen’s Amelia, they have written: “The best singing comes... when the great soprano Jane Eaglen sings... her hymn with impressive musicality and a calm yet commanding stage presence. For that shining, breathtaking moment, she reminds you why we love opera.” Whether Donna Anna, Norma, Turandot, Ariadne, Isolde, or the three Brünnhildes, Eaglen has gone on to perform these roles – and many others – to critical acclaim with the world’s leading opera houses including Deutsche Oper Berlin, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Metropolitan Opera, l’Opéra National de Paris, Royal Opera Covent Garden, San Francisco Opera, Teatro alla Scala, and the Wiener Staatsoper.

Eaglen has an equally impressive reputation in concerts and recitals throughout the world. Notable performances include a concert with Sir Reginald Goodall for HRH The Prince Charles and Princess Diana of Wales in 1986; The MET Opera’s James Levine 25th Anniversary Gala in 1996; The MET Opera Millennium Gala Concert in 2000 where she reprised the MET Turandot production with Luciano Pavarotti; Last Night of the Proms 2000; and Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 50th Anniversary Gala Concert in 2004.

Others include Strauss’s Vier Letzte Lieder with Daniel Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Strauss’ final scene of Salome with Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic, and Sir Richard Hickox and the London Symphony Orchestra; Verdi’s Nabucco with Riccardo Muti for the Ravenna Festival; Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Sir Neville Marriner and St. Martin in the Fields, Kurt Masur and the London Philharmonic, Ricardo Muti and the Filarmonica della Scala, and Kent Nagano and the Hallé Orchestra; Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with James Levine with the Boston Symphony and London Philharmonic, Leonard Slatkin and the National Symphony Orchestra, and Klaus Tennstedt and the London Philharmonic; Schoenberg's Gurre-Lieder with Claudio Abbado for the Salzburg and Edinburgh Festivals; and Verdi’s Requiem with Daniel Barenboim with the Staatskapelle Berlin and the Berliner Philharmoniker, Daniele Gatti with the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and James Levine with the London Philharmonia.

Eaglen’s exclusive contract with Sony Masterworks includes several solo albums, complete opera recordings, soundtracks, and DVDs. Wagner’s Tannhäuser with Barenboim for Teldec earned Eaglen a Grammy® Award for Best Complete Opera. She received a second Grammy® nomination for her work on EMI’s Bruckner: Mass No.3 and Te Deum with the London Philharmonic. Other notable recordings include Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with Chailly for Decca, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Abbado for Sony, Norma with Muti for EMI, and in the title role of Opera Rara’s Medea in Corinto. In addition, Eaglen is featured on Sony’s soundtrack for the film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.

For her services to the arts, Eaglen was honored by Congress in the United States House of Representatives and named an honorary Doctor of Music by McGill University, Montreal, in 2005; awarded the 2008 Baccarat Award from the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation; named Doctor of the University by Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln, England, and installed as Honorary Member of the Wagner Society of Northern California in 2009.

While continuing to perform concerts and recitals, Eaglen has increased her pedagogic endeavors. She served as Senior Artist-in-Residence at the University of Washington School of Music from 2006-2010; served as the Principal Voice Instructor for the Seattle Opera Young Artist Program; teaches periodically at the Cardiff International Academy of Voice; and returns frequently to mentor the Merola Program at San Francisco Opera. In the autumn of 2010, Eaglen accepted a tenured position as Professor of Voice at Baldwin-Wallace College Conservatory in Berea, Ohio, and was named International Fellow in Voice at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow (formerly the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama), where she periodically gives master classes.

For further information, check the NEC Website


Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory in Boston, MA offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to 720 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral music students from around the world. Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars.  Its alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide.  Nearly half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC trained musicians and faculty.

The oldest independent school of music in the United States, NEC was founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee. Its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions.  On the college level, it features training in classical, jazz, contemporary improvisation, world and early music. Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Programs and Partnerships Program, it provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, adults, and seniors. Through its outreach projects, it allows young musicians to engage with non-traditional audiences in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes—thereby bringing pleasure to new listeners and enlarging the universe for classical music, jazz, and contemporary improvisation.

NEC presents more than 900 free concerts each year, many of them in Jordan Hall, its world- renowned, century-old, beautifully restored concert hall.  These programs range from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to jazz, contemporary improvisation, and opera scenes. Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre or Paramount Theatre in Boston.

NEC is co-founder and educational partner of From the Top, a weekly radio program that celebrates outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country. With its broadcast home in Jordan Hall, the show is now carried by National Public Radio and is heard on 250 stations throughout the United States.

Contact: Ellen Pfeifer
Senior Communications Specialist
New England Conservatory
290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115