Referred to as “Penélope Cruz of the opera” by the media and compared at various times to Audrey Hepburn and Anna Magnani, Nino Surguladze is one of the leading mezzo-sopranos of modern generation, admired for her warm and velvety voice, incisive musicianship, excellent acting abilities, notable stage presence, and physical beauty.
Nino Surguladze was born in Tbilisi, Georgia.In a family of scientists. Her exposure to opera dates from a very young age through the influence of her parents, both of whom are avid music lovers. Ms Surguladze obtained her primary and secondary education at the First Experimental School in Tbilisi, and also graduated from Children’s Music School. While studying at the latter, she took part in several of musicals, debuting at the age of 7 at the Philharmonie in Tbilisi, and toured abroad in several countries, including the US. In 1991 she shared the first prize with the Natvris Khe group at the Georgian Music and Choreography Contest. During this period, Ms Surguladze also starred in three movies: Metichara (1988), Martivi pasiansi(1990), and Valsi Pechoraze (1992). For her role in the latter, in 1995 the jury headed by Claude Chabrol awarded her a special prize “Espoir du Cinéma Européen” at the Geneva Film Festival.She sang in many concerts in Georgia, performing popular music. Aged 16, she took part in the Zelt-Musik-Festival in Freiburg in a solo concert with a band from Dallas. Among its participants, the festival featured a jazz guitarist and composer Pat Metheny and an R&B singer Randy Crawford. It was after this festival that Ms Surguladze decided to pursue an operatic career; thus, upon obtaining a college degree in journalism, she enrolled at V. Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire, where she studied singing with Professor Guliko Kariauli. She graduated with distinction and won prizes in a number of prestigious international voice competitions, including the Francisco Viñas International Singing Contest in Barcelona. She completed her musical training in Milan under Leyla Gencer, Luciana Serra and Luigi Alva, graduating from the Accademia Teatro alla Scala in 2003, and simultaneously performing roles in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Aulide, Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, and Verdi’s Oberto, Conte di San Bonifacio at the Teatro alla Scala.
Nino Surguladze joined Riccardo Muti for the opening of the 2003-04 La Scala season as Marie in a production of Rossini’s Moïse et Pharaon, and since then has sung many other roles at the theatre, including Meg Page in Verdi’s Falstaff (conductor Riccardo Muti, season opening), Olga in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (director Graham Vick), Idamante in Mozart’s Idomeneo (conductor Daniel Harding), Solokha in Tchaikovsky’s Cherevichki, Siebel in Gounod’s Faust, Fenena in Verdi’s Nabucco, and Valencienne in Lehár’s Die Lustige Witwe. Elsewhere in Italy, Ms Surguladze sang Nicklausse in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann and Olga in Chaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin at the Teatro Regio di Torino, Marguerite in La Damnation de Faust (conductor Plasson) at the Teatro Regio di Parma, Dorabella in Mozart’s Così fan tutte and Cuniza in Verdi’s Oberto, Conte di San Bonifacio at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, as well as Carmen in Bizet’s Carmen in Macerata (director Dante Ferretti, winner of three Academy Awards, as well as three BAFTA awards), Bologna, Naples and Bari, and Fenena in Verdi’s Nabucco at the Arena di Verona and in Piacenza.
She made her debut at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona at the age of 22 as Sonyetka in Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. At the Liceu she then performed Federica and Laura in Verdi’s Luisa Miller opposite Samuel Ramey, and Maddalena in Verdi’s Rigoletto, the role she also sang at the Teatro Real in Madrid, with Leo Nucci in the title role.Elsewhere in Spain, Ms Surguladze attained great success as Dorabella in Mozart’s Così fan tutte (opposite Barbara Frittoli) at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia.
In the USA, she sang to great acclaim Maddalena in Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Olga in Chaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Carmen in Bizet’s Carmen in San Diego.
In the UK, Ms Surguladze sang Olga (Eugene Onegin, conductor Philippe Jordan) and Dorabella (Così fan tutte) at the Royal Opera House in London, and Clara in Prokofiev’s Betrothal in a Monastery at the Glyndebourne Festival.
Ms Surguladze made her debut at the Salzburg Festival in 2009 as Sinaïde in Rossini’s Moïse et Pharaon (conductor Riccardo Muti), the opera she also sang under the baton of Maestro Muti at the season opening in Rome. Elsewhere in Austria, she took on the role of Carmen in Bizet’s Carmen in Graz.
In Germany Ms Surguladze has performed Sesto in Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito, Nicklausse in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Carmen in Bizet’s Carmen, and Idamante in Mozart’s Idomeneo in Hamburg; Polinesso and Ariodante in Handel’s Ariodante in Frankfurt; Maddalena in Cologne; Federica in Verdi’s Luisa Miller at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, where she also sang Maffio Orsini in Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia (opposite Edita Gruberová).
In Tokyo, Ms Surguladze sang Suzuki in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Dorabella in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, and Carmen in Bizet’s Carmen.
In Seoul, Ms Surguladze has performed Carmen in Bizet’s Carmen. She has also sung the latter opera in Istanbul in a concert performance dedicated to the memory of Leyla Gencer.
Nino Surguladze’s recent successes include: Romeo in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi in Bergen, Marguerite in Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust in Liège,Amneris in Verdi’s Aida at the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples,Bologna, Honk Kong and Bari, the Opéra Royal de Wallonie in Liège, and the Bergen Nasjonale Opera in Bergen; Carmen in Bizet’s Carmen in the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg and in Sassari,New Zealand Opera on tour in Wellington, Christchurch, and Auckland. Santuzza in Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana in Avignon; Adalgisa in Bellini’s Norma in Beirut; Stéphano in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette at the Arena di Verona; Maddalena in Verdi’s Rigoletto (conductor Fabio Luisi) at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, in Bogota, and at the Sferisterio Opera Festival in Macerata; and Federica in Verdi’s Luisa Miller in Naples and Budapest. Not to forget is her Rosenblatt Recital at the Wigmore Hall in London, where she performed songs, lieder and arias by Mozart, Donizetti, Verdi, Saint-Saëns, Cilea, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, and Wolf.
Among notable concerts she took part in as a soloist, mention should be made of the Christmas concert at the San Marco church in Milan (conductor Riccardo Muti); performance of Dvorák’s Requiem in B-flat minor at the Berliner Philharmonie, with Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Nicola Luisotti; and the performance of Schubert’s Mass No. 6 in E flat major at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. In 2016, at the anniversary concert of Giya Kancheli in Tbilisi, she premiered songs written and dedicated to her by the composer.
Nino Surguladze’s discography to date counts nine titles and includes recordings of live performances from Milan, Barcelona, Glyndebourne, Verona, and Macerata.
Nino Surguladze’s future engagements include: Carmen in Liege opera, Alceste in Florance opera house, and many other interesting projects.
In September 2010, Ms Surguladze performed Maddalena in the unique Rigoletto filmed live on location in Mantua opposite the opera stars like Plácido Domingo (Rigoletto), Vittorio Grigolo (Duke of Mantua), Julia Novikova (Gilda), and Ruggerio Raimondi (Sparafucile), and under the baton of Zubin Mehta, directing the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI. Realism never came more authentic in opera than this RAI (Radiotelevisione Italiana) project, broadcasted simultaneously in 148 countries. After the performance, for her contributions to the culture and promotion of the Georgian cause abroad, Ms Surguladze was awarded the Presidential Order of Excellence, one of the top distinctions of the Republic of Georgia.
In 2015, for her promoting and fostering links between Italy and Georgia, upon recommendation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy and by the decision of the President of Italy Sergio Mattarella, she was conferred a high decoration of the Cavaliere della Stella d’Italia. The award ceremony took place in Tbilisi, with participation of the Ambassador of Italy to Georgia Mr. Antonio Enrico Bartoli and the President of Georgia Mr. Giorgi Margvelashvili.
In spring 2016, for the role of Fenena in Verdi’s Nabucco that she performed at the Arena di Verona, Ms Surguladze was awarded the GBOSCAR of the 2014-2015 opera season in the category of the best mezzo-soprano (GBOSCAR – L’Eccellenza dell’Opera e della Danza – 2a edizione).
In 2017 Nino Surguladze made a part in Netflix series called the THE ALIENIST , The cast includes Daniel Bruhl, Luke Evans, Dakota Fanning, a. The premiere is scheduled for January 2018.
Together with Ezio Bosso and Carmen Giannatasio she performd the traditional charity concert held on 1st May (2018), that acclaimed over seven standing ovations and was watched by over 4 million people worldwide broadcast live on TV and online.
March 2018 she just made her debut in Maggio Musicale di Firenze with the part of Alceste of Gluck’s Alceste, and she made her debut in the part of Azucena with Maestro Abbado and Robert Wilson in Parma in October 2018.
22-29 Jan 2019 she sang Il Trovatore in Teatro Comunale di Bologna – Role: Azucena
26 Feb-14 Mar of 2019 Aida – Opéra Royal de Wallonie, Liège – Role: Amneris
10-14 Apr 2019 – Rigoletto in Beijing.
11-22 Mai 2019 – Rigoletto – Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, Valencia – Role: Maddalena with Maestro abbadò.
Requiem of Verdi with Philarmonique de Montecarlo directed by Gelmeti.
She made her debut in Racconti di Hoffmann in teatro di Liceo with the part of Giulietta.
The Preziosilla in La Forza del destino in Lieje, and Nabucco now in Bari part of Fenena ( October 2021)
Her future projects are : Rigoletto in Liceo, Barcellona(November ,December 2021) and teatro real de Madrid in the opera Fire Angel ( Prokofiev)
Nino Surguladze’s affair of the heart is the Fund “Desire Tree”, that she established in 2014. Its aims are to provide assistance to Georgian children (up to 20 years old) in need of acute medical treatment abroad saved allowed tens of children from death.
, and to raise awareness of the society of the children’s sufferings. In this capacity the Fund performs significant daily work. By the decision of the Minister of Finance of Georgia, in 2015 the Fund was awarded the official status of a charity fund. Since 2014, the Fund has organised five grand charity concerts with participation of the world-class musicians, incomes from which were used to finance life-saving treatments of tens of children.
The Fund’s most significant project to date is “For Love”, a unique synthesis of ballet (Nino Rota’s ballet suite serving as a soundtrack to Federico Fellini’s “La strada”) and opera (Poulenc’s mono opera “La voix humaine”) in one performance. The project was realised with participation of a great stage director Marco Gandini, a long-term associate of Franco Zeffirelli; well-known choreographer and primo ballerino of La Scala, Gianluca Schiavoni; famous conductor Carlo Ponti Jr., son of the Italian film producer Carlo Ponti Sr. and the international movie superstar Sophia Loren; and the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre. The principal parts were performed by a renowned Georgian prima ballerina Nino Ananiashvili and Nino Surguladze herself.
Sophia Loren, a symbol of Italian beauty in the world, acted as a patron of the event and was a guest of honour on the opening night performance that took place on 15 June 2016 at the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre. The performance was broadcasted live on Georgian TV. Besides raising significant funds for treatment of the children, it also positively impacted cultural relations between Italy and Georgia.
Nino was honored with presidential order of excellence of the republic of Georgia, and also for contribution in the Italian and Georgian culture abroad was honored with order of the Cavalier of the star of Itali by the President of the republic of Italy.