English soprano Felicity Lott began her musical studies on the violin and piano, but she did not entertain the idea of a musical career until after completing a degree in French at the Royal Holloway College. Having studied voice during college, she auditioned for the Royal Academy of Music and spent the next four years there. Her debut came in London as Seleuce in Handel's Tolomeo, but she first came to public attention in 1975 when she stepped in as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte at the English National Opera, where she also sang Natasha in Prokofiev's War and Peace and Roxane in Szymanowski's King Roger. In 1976 at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, she continued this thread of modern opera in Henze's We Come to the River and Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The following year, she sang Anne Trulove in The Rake's Progress at Glyndebourne and Jennifer in Tippett's The Midsummer Marriage at the Welsh National Opera. Perhaps even more important was singing the Countess in Strauss' Capriccio for the Glyndebourne Touring Company; this was the first of many Strauss roles she was to make her own.
Lott also undertook roles from the standard repertory, including Poppea in Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea, the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, and Xiphares in Mitridate, rè di Ponto. She had great success in French opera, especially as Charpentier's Louise, Blanche in Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmelites and the Woman in La voix humaine. She eventually added more Strauss roles to her repertoire, including both Octavian and the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier, Christine in Intermezzo and Arabella. She has sung at all of the major opera houses around the world, including Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco, the Metropolitan, Hamburg, Dresden, Vienna, Paris Opera, and Munich. Her Mozart roles have remained central in her performing schedule.
Lott is also very active as a recitalist. She is one of the original members of the Songmaker's Almanac, a group created by pianist Graham Johnson to explore all areas of song literature. She and Richard Jackson have been admired for their performances of Wolf's Italienisches Liederbuch. She is also well known for her interpretations of the songs of Francis Poulenc and has recorded nearly all of the songs appropriate for female voice. Her performances of Schumann's Frauenliebe und -leben and Berg's Sieben frühe Lieder are also highly acclaimed. Her recital programs are unusually varied, often contain little-known pieces, and are much anticipated by audiences. She also appears regularly with major orchestras around the world. Her concert repertoire includes the second and fourth symphonies of Mahler, the oratorios of Bach, Handel, Mendelssohn, and, of course, the Four Last Songs of Strauss.
When Felicity Lott began performing, her voice was a medium-sized lyric soprano with a strong lower register. As she has matured, the voice has taken on darker hues that have enabled her to be able to fulfill all of the demands of the great Strauss operas for which she is justly famous. She has excellent control of the entire dynamic range and a wonderful feel for the long phrases of Mozart and Strauss. She is an excellent actress and is careful to create a complete character in her performances.
Through the new decade, she continued performing, including a 2004 appearance in Offenbach's La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein at the Chatelet in Paris. Her later recordings covered Schubert (2010), Elgar (2011), and Mahler (2011), among others.
Lott is married to actor Gabriel Woolf. She became a Commander of the British Empire in 1990 and was knighted as a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1996.