With four Tony Awards and two Grammy Awards, the Juilliard-trained Audra McDonald returns to performing live full-time this month following four seasons playing Dr. Naomi Bennett on ABC's hit television series Private Practice. Currently starring alongside Norm Lewis in A.R.T.'s PORGY AND BESS, the Broadway-bound singer will make a stop at Carnegie Hall as a part of her 20-city concert tour across North America. McDonald will present her trademark mix of show tunes, classic songs from movies, and pieces written expressly for her by leading contemporary composers.
Tickets to the Carnegie Hall engagement can be purchased by calling (212) 247-7800 or by visiting carnegiehall.org.
Born into a musical family, McDonald grew up in Fresno, California. One year after graduating with a degree in classical voice from the Juilliard School, she won her first Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for Carousel at Lincoln Center Theater, directed by Nicholas Hytner. She received two additional Tony Awards in the Featured Actress category over the next four years for her performances in the Broadway premieres of Terrence McNally's play Master Class (1996) and his musical Ragtime (1998), earning her an unprecedented three Tony Awards before turning 30. In 2004 she won her fourth Tony, starring alongside Sean "Diddy" Combs in A Raisin in the Sun. Her other theater credits include The Secret Garden (1993), Marie Christine (1999), Henry IV (2004), 110 in the Shade (2007), and, most recently, her Public Theater "Shakespeare in the Park" debut in Twelfth Night alongside Anne Hathaway and Raúl Esparza (2009).
McDonald made her opera debut in 2006 at Houston Grand Opera, which featured her in a double-bill of Poulenc's monodrama La voix humaine and the world premiere of Send, a companion-piece to the Poulenc written by one of her frequent collaborators, composer Michael John LaChiusa. She made her Los Angeles Opera debut in 2007 starring alongside Patti LuPone in John Doyle's production of Kurt Weill's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. The resulting recording won McDonald two Grammy Awards, for Best Opera Recording and Best Classical Album.
On the concert stage, she has premiered music by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Adams and sung with virtually every major American orchestra - including the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony - and under such conductors as Sir Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Leonard Slatkin. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in 1998 with the San Francisco Symphony under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas in a season-opening concert that was broadcast live on PBS. Internationally, she is a returning guest at the BBC Proms in London (where she was only the second American in more than 100 years to solo on the famed "Last Night of the Proms" at the Royal Albert Hall) and at the Théatre du Chatelet in Paris, as well as with the London Symphony Orchestra and Berlin Philharmonic.
McDonald was first introduced to television audiences as a dramatic actress in the Peabody Award-winning CBS program Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years. She went on to co-star with Kathy Bates and Victor Garber in the lauded 1999 Disney/ABC television remake of Annie, and in 2000 she had a recurring role on NBC's hit series Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. After receiving her first Emmy nomination for her performance in the HBO film version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Wit, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Emma Thompson, McDonald returned to network television in 2003 in the political drama Mister Sterling, produced by Emmy Award-winner Lawrence O'Donnell, Jr. (The West Wing) and starring Josh Brolin. In early 2006 she joined the cast of the WB's The Bedford Diaries, and over the next season she had a recurring role on NBC's television series Kidnapped. In 2008 she reprised her Tony Award-winning role in A Raisin in the Sun in a made-for-television movie adaption, earning her a second Emmy Award nomination.