Barbara Hendricks is widely regarded as one of the finest American lyric sopranos of her generation, both for her work on the operatic stage and in the concert hall. She possesses a vast repertory in the realm of German lieder and is known for her recitals of American, French and Scandinavian works. She has also sung in performances of Mozart's Mass in C minor, Brahms' Requiem, Mahler's Second Symphony, Del Tredici's Final Alice, and has frequently appeared in jazz concerts as well. In the realm of opera Hendricks has sung a variety of roles, including Pamina from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Gilda (Verdi's Rigoletto), Micaela (Bizet's Carmen), Tatiana (Eugene Onegin), Mimi and Liu (Puccini's La bohème and Turandot, respectively), and many more. Hendricks has appeared at most of the major operatic venues, including the Met, Paris Opera, La Scala, and Covent Garden. She has made many recordings, from best-selling Christmas CDs and Gershwin song albums to popular Schubert lieder and Verdi opera recordings. She has appeared on nearly 80 recordings spread over a variety of major labels, including DG, Decca, EMI, Sony, Philips, RCA, and Arte Verum.
Barbara Hendricks was born in Stephens, AK, on November 20, 1948. After obtaining a degree at the University of Nebraska in chemistry and mathematics, Hendricks studied voice at Juilliard under Jennie Tourel.
Hendricks' major debut was in 1974 at the San Francisco Opera in Cavalli's Ormindo as Erisbe, and that same year she made her recital debut at New York's Town Hall. In 1975 she appeared on her first recording (Decca), singing Clara in Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.
Hendricks soon became an international star, receiving a flood of invitations to the major operatic venues, concert halls, and music festivals. Her appearances with Herbert von Karajan (1977) and Leonard Bernstein (1985) were only two of many internationally acclaimed concert tours. From 1987 Hendricks has worked on behalf of refugees, mainly through the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Since her 1994 debut at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Hendricks has regularly appeared at leading jazz festivals throughout the world.
In 2006 Hendricks did not renew her contract with EMI, but formed her own label, Arte Verum. Via this new enterprise she appeared on five recordings in 2008, including an acclaimed disc of Poulenc works. A citizen and resident of Sweden, Hendricks married her manager Martin Engström in 1978, and the couple have several children. ~ Robert Cummings