Internationally renowned, Joan Rodgers is equally established in opera, concert, and as a recitalist. After graduating from the University of Liverpool with an Honours degree in Russian she entered the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and in 1981 she won the Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Scholarship.
Joan Rodgers made her professional debut in 1982 as Pamina in a new production of Die Zauberflöte at the Festival of Aix en Provence, following which she rapidly established herself throughout Europe. International operatic engagements have included Paris (Pamina and Zerlina with Barenboim and Ponnelle, Mélisande, Susanna, and Donna Elvira with Solti); Munich (Ginevra in Ariodante) and also on tour to Japan in 2005; Florence (Susanna with Mehta); Vienna (Mitridate with Harnoncourt), Zurich, Lyon, Turin, Brussels (Countess, Fiordiligi, and Hero in Beatrice et Benedict), Geneva, Frankfurt and Oviedo (Governess The Turn of the Screw), Netherlands Opera (Countess in Figaro and Blanche Dialogues des Carmélities), and The Metropolitan Opera New York (Pamina).
In the UK Joan Rodgers has sung for all the principal opera companies, including the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, highly acclaimed performances of the Governess and Duchess in Thomas Ad's Powder her Face; English National Opera, Countess in Graham Vick's Figaro's Wedding, Ginevra (Ariodante), Blanche (The Dialogue of the Carmelites), Mélisande, Alcina and Titania (The Fairy Queen) Titania also in Barcelona with ENO; Glyndebourne Festival Opera (Susanna with Sir Simon Rattle and the title role in Theodora); Opera North (operas including Poulenc La voix humaine directed by Deborah Warner, the title role in Tchaikovsky's Iolanta, repeated in the 1992 Edinburgh Festival and Mélisande in a new production by Richard Jones conducted by Paul Daniel); Welsh National Opera, (Sandrina in La Finta Giardiniera); and Scottish Opera (Cleopatra in Handel's Julius Caesar, Donna Elvira and, in 1999, to great critical acclaim, her first Marschallin (Der Rosenkavalier) returning there in this role in 2002 to even greater critical acclaim).
Joan Rodgers enjoys an equally successful career as a concert and recital singer and engagements have included regular appearances with such conductors as Zubin Mehta, Daniel Barenboim, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Frans Bruggen, Christoph Eschenbach, Sir Charles Mackerras, Mark Elder, Sir Andrew Davis and Sir Simon Rattle. She appears regularly in London with all the leading orchestras and has been a frequent guest at the BBC Proms, including the internationally televised Last Night. She returned to the Proms in 2001 for Vaughan Williams' Sea Symphony conducted by Leonard Slatkin. Overseas engagements have included tours of the USA and Spain with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Esa-Pekka Salonen and a nationwide tour of Australia. Her London recitals have attracted the highest critical acclaim and other recent recital engagements have included the Musikverein in Vienna, Paris, Moscow, Budapest and New York.
Recordings include the roles of Susanna (The Marriage of Figaro), Zerlina (Don Giovanni) and Despina (Così fan tutte) with Daniel Barenboim and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra for Erato, the Governess (The Turn of the Screw) with Daniel Harding for Virgin, Beethoven Symphony No.9 with Mackerras for EMI, Vaughan Williams' Sea Symphony, also for EMI, and Mahler's Das Klagende Lied for Chandos Records, solo discs of Tchaikovsky and Mozart songs and Wolf's Morike Lieder on the Hyperion label, Haydn's Creation for Philips with Bruggen and the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, Shostakovich's Symphony No 14 for BIS, Rachmaninov Songs with Howard Shelley for Chandos and Shostakovich 7 Romances on Verses by Alexander Blok with the Beaux Arts Trio for Warner Classics. In June 2006 she recorded Shostakovich Symphony No 14 with the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo with Vladimir Ashkenazy and in January 2009 Pushkin Romances with Malcolm Martineau on Hyperion.
Recent and future engagements include the world premiere of Xavier Dayer's Mémoires d'une jeune fille triste in Geneva, Gianni Schicchi for Covent Garden with Richard Jones and Antonio Pappano, and Saariaho L'amour de loin for English National Opera, various recitals and concerts across the UK and Europe including with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and at the Edinburgh International Festival, Derry City of Song Festival, Brighton, Ryedale, Oxford Lieder and Solent Music Festivals, Kings Place, the Wigmore Hall, Kings' College Cambridge, Dartington International Summer School and in Paris, Vienna, Aarhus and Moscow. She will also give a series of masterclasses at Dartington International Summer School in the summer of 2013.
Joan Rodgers received the Royal Philharmonic Society award as Singer of the Year for 1997, the 1997 Evening Standard Award for outstanding performance in opera for her performance as The Governess in the Royal Opera's production of The Turn of the Screw, and an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Liverpool University in July 2005. Joan Rodgers was awarded the CBE in the 2001 New Year's Honours List.
In 2010 Joan Rodgers took up the post of International Chair in Singing at Royal Northern College of Music.