“Ellen Orford ... beautifully sung by Rita Cullis”
Mischa Spel, NRC Handelsblad (7 February 2005)
“Rita Cullis is outstanding as Lady Billows”
Hugh Canning, Sunday Times (10 November 2002)
Rita Cullis was born in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire and studied at the Royal Manchester College of Music. She made her debut with the Welsh National Opera with whom she sang an extensive range of roles including The Countess, Tatyana and The Marschallin, and subsequently she moved on to The Composer, Fiordiligi, Donna Anna (English National Opera), The Fox (Royal Opera House), the title role in Ariadne auf Naxos (Netherlands Opera) and Donna Anna and Female Chorus (San Diego Opera). She has sung Ellen Orford (Peter Grimes) for Scottish Opera, Royal Opera House and Palermo, Freia and Helmwige (The Ring) in the new production at the Royal Opera House and Leonora (Oberto) in a new Opera North production.
Rita Cullis has sung Julie in Dvorak’s Les Jacobins for Scottish Opera and Leonora (Oberto) for Opera Nice. She also sang Elettra (Idomeneo) for Garsington as well as Freia, Helmwige and Third Norn in The Ring cycle at Covent Garden. In addition she was Alice Ford (Falstaff) and Elisabeth (Tannhäuser) with Opera North, Senta (Der fliegende Holländer) and Alice Ford for English National Opera and the title role in Daphne for the Flanders Opera. Miss Cullis also sang Senta for the Opera de Lille, Ellen Orford (Peter Grimes) for the Royal Opera House performances at the Savonlinna Festival and Sieglinde (Die Walküre) with the Royal Opera Covent Garden conducted by Bernard Haitink in London, Birmingham and the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. At the Hamburg State Opera she performed Ellen Orford with Richard Hickox. In a new production of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmelites at the English National Opera she sang the role of Madame Lidoine.
In the concert field Miss Cullis’ appearances include: Les illuminations with the Ulster Orchestra, Martinu’s Epic of Gilgamesh with the City of Birmingham Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, Strauss’ Four Last Songs with the Philharmonic Orchestra in Antwerp, Mahler’s Eighth Symphony in Ely Cathedral and the Royal Albert Hall in London, Macmillan’s Gloria with the Royal Ballet in London and at the Opening Gala of Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House, Verdi’s Requiem with the Ulster Orchestra, and Dvorak’s Stabat Mater with the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon and Porto. Conductors often invite her for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, including the late Lord Yehudi Menuhin, the late Garcia Navarro. Leonard Slatkin, Marc Soustrot, Paul Strauss and Joseph Swensen.
Rita Cullis’ opera engagements include Hecuba (Tippett’s King Priam) at English National Opera, and the Nationale Reisopera, Contessa (Le Nozze di Figaro) for the Hamburg State Opera, Regan (Reimann’s King Lear) in a Willy Decker production at De Nederlandse Opera, Senta (Der fliegende Holländer) in San Diego and Lady Billows in Britten’s Albert Herring at Glyndebourne Festival Opera. She also sang Regan (King Lear) at the Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden. Furthermore she sung Creusa in Ion by Param Vir with performances in Strasbourg and the Berliner Festwochen. This season she returned to the Reisopera for Ellen Orford (Peter Grimes), and is singing Senta (Der fliegende Holländer) with the Opera in Bielefeld.
Highlights among current concert performances are the first act from Die Walküre conducted by Lawrence Renes, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with Joseph Swensen and both Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Mahler’s 8th Symphony with The Slovenian Philharmonic and conductor Hartmut Haenchen. Maestro Haenchen also invited Miss Cullis to sing Magna Peccatrix (Soprano I) in Mahler’s 8th Symphony for concerts in Amsterdam and Dresden accompanied by the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra.