Sylvia Anderson
  1. Faculty

Sylvia Anderson

"Miss Anderson... a poised, aristocratic girl with a calm expression of radiant awareness… Her voice has the quality of truth."
San Francisco Chronicle


  • Private Lessons


  • DMA, Hochschule für Musik, Cologne, Germany
  • MM, Eastman School of Music
  • BA, MacMurray College


  • San Francisco Opera 1967-1971
  • New York City Opera
  • Frankfurt Opera


  • Best “Arabella", Opera magazine
  • Debut, Bayreuth Festival, 1970

What is your hometown?

Denver, CO

What is your favorite recording?

Verdi: Requiem with Herbert von Karajan and Leontyne Price.

What are you passionate about outside of music?

The education of children.

Who were your major teachers?

Anna Kaskas, Metropolitan Opera (contralto) and Maestro Luigi Toffolo, Kammersängerin Erna Westenberger.

What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?

“Listen to your heart!”

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?

“What do I have to do to be a successful singing actor?”

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

I was singing in church when I was 10 years old, and knew I never wanted the thrill to stop.

What was a turning point in your career?

After giving birth to my children, I gained three more notes in my vocal range, and went from mezzo to soprano.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?

I think we all have the possibility to perform multiple roles simultaneously — to be a friend, a lover, a wife or husband, or mother or father, or spiritual leader — but right now, if I were not a teacher, I'd be writing about all that... an author!

What is your daily practice routine?

11 AM: As a singer I vocalize for 40 minutes. Then sing yesterday's work into the voice for another hour. Eat a good meal at 2 PM. Work again on new material from 4–6 PM. Eat a light dinner, then, to memorize the texts, speak them in rhythm out loud and write them out multiple times before retiring at 11:30 PM.

If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Mozart, Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss (and Bach, of course).

From a music history perspective, what year and city are most important to you?

München, 1865 (Tristan und Isolde Premiere).

What are your most important collaborations?

Carl Orff's Antigone in Athens’ Festival of Greek Tragedy, San Francisco Opera’s Der Rosenkavalier, and Karlheinz Stockhausen's Drei Lieder.

Who are three students you have had the privilege of teaching?

Elza van den Heever, Elena Bocharova, and Hjördis Thébault.

What are your academic publications?

“Die Sprechstimme in Pierrot Lunaire of Arnold Schönberg” and "The Low Larynx".

What recordings can we hear you on?

Drei Lieder, Deutsche Grammophon
De temporum fine comoedia, Deutsche Grammophon
Schubert: German and Latin Masses, Vox
Riccardo III, Teatro Regio di Torino
Strauss Orchestral Songs, AMR Productions

What is your unrealized project?

My memoirs.