“Komsi’s voice is phenomenal, capable of extremes of pitch and textures beyond the range of most, combined with extraordinarily crisp articulation. Her voice is almost superhumanly elastic, her diction precise even in phrases as convoluted as those thrown at her by Joyce and Eötvös.” Anne Ozorio, Opera Today
“Most of all, though, the whole 40-minute work sets a fearsome test for any coloratura soprano, and Komsi passed it superbly, meeting every challenge with real operatic brilliance.” Andrew Clements, The Guardian
The Finnish coloratura-soprano Piia Komsi is known for her virtuoso technique and her exceptionally high and flexible voice. She is a successful international performer of baroque, classical and contemporary repertoire – whether on the opera stage and concert podium or as a soloist of chamber music and lieder. She has been a muse to many contemporary composers.
In May of 2017, Komsi made her successful debut with the New York Philharmonic in Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Wing on Wing, a piece that was written for Piia Komsi and her twin sister Anu Komsi. Since its premiere with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in L.A. in 2004 under the baton of Salonen, the two sopranos have been performing the extraordinary work at renowned concert halls throughout the world.
Piia Komsi’s breakthrough was as the Maid in Thomas Adès’ opera Powder Her Face. Her operatic roles have included Martha in Le Malentendu by António Panisello, Gepopo and Venus in Le Grand Macabre by György Ligeti, the Duchesse de Guise in Massacre by Wolfgang Mitterer, Pamina andQueen of the Night (The Magic Flute), Brunnhilde (Richard Wagner/Jonathan Dove: Ring Saga), Medea(Pascal Dusapin: Medeamaterial), The Cat (Unsuk Chin: Alice in Wonderland), and the cello-playingdaughter (Heinz-Juhani Hofmann: Ahti Karjalainen), among others. She has beenengaged by major opera houses including the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, the Théatre etMusique in Paris, the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, the Teatro di San Carlo Napoli, the Finnish National Opera in Helskini and the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.
The soprano has performed with numerous orchestras, among these: the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony Orchestra London, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, the MDR Sinfonieorchester, the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Gulbenkian Orchestra Lisbon. Furthermore, she has worked with contemporary music ensembles such as the Ensemble Modern, the Ensemble Musikfabrik, the London Sinfonietta, the L’Ensemble Intercontemporain, the Remix Ensemble and the Elision Ensemble and with conductors including Esa-Pekka Salonen, Alan Gilbert, Peter Eötvös, Kent Nagano, Sakari Oramo, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Francois-Xavier Roth and Peter Rundel.
Opera / Music theatre:
John Adams The Death of Klinghoffer (British Dancing Girl)
Thomas Adès Powder Her Face (Maid)
Alban Berg Lulu (Lulu)
Marc-Antoine Charpentier Les Arts Florissant (Paix)
Unsuk Chin Alice in Wonderland (WP, The Cat)
Léo Delibes Lakmè (Lakmè)
Gaetano Donizetti Don Pasquale (Norina)
Baldassare Galuppi Il Filosofo di Campagna (Lesbina)
Heinz-JuhanHofmann/Hurme Ahti Karjalainen – Elämä, Kekkonen ja teot (Kraut)
Pascal Dusapin Medea (Medea)
Mikko Heiniö Alice – The Moment of the Snake (Ida)
György Ligeti Le Grand Macabre (Venus/ Gepopo)
Jouko Linjama Suomalainen Tapiiri (Kana)
Wolfgang Mitterer Massacre (Duchesse de Guise)
W. A. Mozart Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Lucia), The Magic Flute (Pamina, Queen of the night), Der Schauspieldirektor (Mademoiselle Silberklang)
Raymond Murray Schafer La Testa d‘Adriana
Jacques Offenbach Les Contes d’Hoffmann (Olympia)
Fabián Panisello Le Malentendu (Martha)
Henry Purcell Dido & Aeneas (Witch/Second Woman)
Gioacchino Rossini Il barbiere di Siviglia (Rosina)
Richard Strauss Ariadne Auf Naxos (Zerbinetta)
Johann Strauß Die Fledermaus (Adele)
Igor Strawinsky Nightingale (Nightingale)
Ambroise Thomas Hamlet (Ophelia), Mignon (Philine)
Jovanka Trbojevic Opera Absurdium (Artist)
Tapio Tuomela Mothers And Daughters (Maiden of the Rainbow)
Ari Vakkilainen The Beer Opera (Huna)
Giuseppe Verdi Un ballo in maschera (Oscar), La Traviata (Violetta), Rigoletto (Gilda)
Richard Wagner /Jonathan Dove Götterdämmerung – Ring Saga (Brünnhilde), Siegfried – Ring Saga (Brünnhilde), Walküre – Ring Saga (Brünnhilde)
Lotta Wennäkoski N&R. Schumann Frauenliebe und Leben (Woman)
Luciano Berio Labyrinthus 2
BenjaminBritten Les Illuminations
Unsuk Chin Akrostichon Wortspiel, Cantatrix Sopranica
Antonín Dvořák Stabat Mater
Peter Eötvös Harakiri, The Sirens Cycle (WP)
Gabriel Fauré Requiem
Heinz-Juhani Hofmann Kaksi muistijälkeä (WP), Paina vaste sydänta (WP), Hysteria and the Prayer (WP)
Pekka Kostiainen Pääsiäisoratorio, Triduum Paschale
Liza Lim Mother Tongue, Woodoo Child
Witold Lutoslawski Chantefleurs et Chantefables
Pehr Henrik Nordgren Nacht der Nächte (WP)
Carl Orff Carmina Burana
Jean-Philippe Rameau L’Indes Galantes
Josef Gabriel Rheinberger Der Stern von Betlehem
Jean-Jacques Rousseau Le Devin de Village
Kaija Saariaho From the Grammar of Dreams (WP), Leino-songs
Esa-Pekka Salonen Wing on Wing
Arnold Schönberg Die Jakobsleiter (Seele)
Johannes Maria Staud Lied der Berenice
Tapio Tuomela Gloria (WP)
Anton Webern Cantata Op. 29
19 January 2019, 18:00, Casa da Música, Porto
Programme: Claude Vivier Trois airs pour une opéra imaginaire for soprano and ensemble
Cast: Remix Ensemble Casa da Música, Synergy Vocals, Peter Rundel (conductor), Piia Komsi (soprano)
Wing on Wing, composed for the opening of Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, is a huge, celebratory piece that deserves to survive beyond its original purpose thanks to its big imagination and the chance it offered to hear Anu and Piia Komsi, the Finnish high-wire soprano twins.
Financial Times, December 2017
Attractive woodwind riffs bubble up through the curtain-raiser Gambit, and the writing for the phenomenal Komsi twins, Anu (Mrs Oramo) and Piia in Wing on Wing, previously heard performing the work in the same hall over a decade ago, never repeats the opening siren-like formula for them as they move around the hall. It would be hard to imagine this half-hour extravaganza without them; anyone resistant to the confrontational glamour of the piece would still have to make obeisance to their luminous blend of the vocal and the instrumental.
The Arts Desk, December 2017
Piia Komsi, soprano is a virtuoso, she convinces us in the interpretation of a woman with the shattered mind who is almost no longer able to express phrases, but only fragments, debris, clumps of memories, crossed by what psychiatrists call “intrusive thoughts”: you cannot foresee, control, when they arrive and devastate you, presenting yourself as your true reality.
LA STAMPA, October 2017
Piia Komsi was magnificent, a coloratura soprano with astounding expressive skills. She interprets the lament with her voice, the sounds she produces come from deep within her head, using instruments of the rarest agility and precision. Her singing is music, her body an instrument perfectly tuned and trained. This is an excellent performance, which confirms her reputation as a truly great coloratura soprano whose technique and musicality are of the finest. She reveals the astounding ability of Pascal Dusapin to discover compelling vocal lines, not only because they are extreme, but also because he is able to design for them a most refined orchestral accompaniment, based on structures that I would rather call crafted than mechanical.
OPERACLICK, October 2017
Here their parts were sung with voluptuous colorings by the sisters Anu and Piia Komsi. Forward-looking, glamorous and over the top, “Wing on Wing” is the perfect homage to Los Angeles and its eye-catching concert hall. The New York Times, 21 May 2017
And the outstanding soprano Piia Komsi, taking over from Barbara Hannigan, was equal to its extreme demands, smoothly switching between English, ancient Greek and German.
Financial Times, October 2016
Most of all, though, the whole 40-minute work sets a fearsome test for any coloratura soprano, and Komsi passed it superbly, meeting every challenge with real operatic brilliance.
The Guardian, October 2016
Although Barbara Hannigan was scheduled to sing, I was thrilled to hear that Piia Komsi was stepping in at very short notice indeed, for Komsi’s voice is phenomenal, capable of extremes of pitch and textures beyond the range of most, combined with extraordinarily crisp articulation. Her voice is almost superhumanly elastic, her diction precise even in phrases as convoluted as those thrown at her by Joyce and Eötvös. She embodied the Sirens, supernatural beings who defy the boundaries of Nature. Komsi’s death-defying flights up and down the scale could drive one mad with rapture. Komsi is a vocal gymnast, but so poised that she can make the ethereal sound perfectly natural.
Opera Today, October 2016
The focus of the evening was the world premiere of Eötvös’s The Sirens Cycle, settings of James Joyce, Homer and Kafka for high soprano. The extraordinarily demanding vocals were taken on superbly by Piia Komsi (sister of Anu) at short notice, following the withdrawal of Barbara Hannigan. Komsi was amazing.
Classical Source, October 2016