Elise Quagliata, mezzo-soprano, has gained notice over the past decade for the unique beauty of her voice, her musical intelligence, theatrical range and the riveting effect she has had on audiences everywhere. She has made a name for herself in contemporary as well as in traditional works.
Recently, Ms. Quagliata sang the role of the Minkswoman to great acclaim in Jonathan Dove’s Flight at Des Moines Metro Opera. This past season, she performed with Atlanta Opera as Zosia in the premiere of Jake Heggie’s newest work, Out of Darkness: Two Remain. She also took on the presence of Hannah After in Laura Kaminsky’s As One with Des Moines Metro Opera.
Regularly appearing as Carmen in the past several seasons for New York City Opera’s tours of Carmen in Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East, the artist reprised the role for City Opera’s second summer at New York City’s Bryant Park. This season, 2018-19, she performs Carmen with the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera. As Carmen with Utah Opera in 2016, Opera News noted that she “commanded attention” with her “dusky mezzo, dramatic acumen and pulchritude.” Early on, Ms. Quagliata’s Carmen captivated critics and audiences alike. In her performance for Pensacola Opera, reviewers praised her as “simply riveting” (Pensacola News Journal); ready to “spontaneously combust – the girl is on fire” (The Independent News); and “one of the finest Carmens I have ever seen” (Mobile Register).
Ms. Quagliata was featured in the opening season of the “new” New York City Opera as Hedda Hopper in Stewart Wallace’s Hopper’s Wife. The New York Times declared that she “rightly stole the show, her vocally and physically nuanced portrayal vividly conveying the evolution of the character.” In Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, Opera News found her “deliciously caustic” Countess Charlotte Malcolm “threatened to purloin the evening.” As Maria in Maria de Buenos Aires, Astor Piazzolla’s tango tour-de-force, Opera Today remarked that she “showed off her poised tone to perfection in a wide range of demanding emotional states. Dramatically and musically, she does not so much perform the part as inhabit it. A remarkable star turn.”
In Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, Sister Helen has become the artist’s signature role, and one she has performed frequently with heart-rending range and emotion. Opera News found that the “passionate interpretation” of her Des Moines Metro Opera performance was executed with “exceptional technical finesse.” For Union Avenue Opera, the Saint Louis Dispatch opined that her acting and “dark, expressive voice” gave the role an “authentic strength and humor,” while the final confession scene was performed with “throat-grabbing intensity.” Her interpretation of Mr. Heggie’s songs have also commanded attention. The New York Times praised her “rich, expressive voice and passionate delivery” of the song cycle on Sister Helen’s prayers, The Deepest Desire, performed in New York and Los Angeles with the flutist Carol Wincenc and the composer at the piano. She worked again with Mr. Heggie on his subsequent cycle, The Breaking Waves, as part of a special concert of the composer’s works for Opera America.
The 2018-2019 season includes a recording of composer Luna Pearl Woolf’s songs with cellist Matt Haimovitz; soloist for Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera 85th Anniversary Celebration Concert; and singing Emilia in Verdi’s Otello with Austin Opera. She will also reprise her turn as Joan Clarke in Justine Chen’s The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing with Chicago Opera Theater, a role she originated for American Lyric Theater, praised as “vibrant” by the The New York Times.
In past seasons, Ms. Quagliata appeared as Jo in Mark Adamo’s Little Women with Pensacola Opera, described as “a vocal tour de force of amazing power, beauty, and dexterity.” With Florida Grand Opera, she sang Cornelia in Handel’s Guilio Cesare with what The Miami Herald noted as a “graceful presence” and “a rich mezzo voice.” For Des Moines Metro Opera, the artist performed Olga in Eugene Onegin, and also appeared there as the Muse/Nicklausse in Les contes d’Hoffmann, where her “striking, bold tone, superb diction and excellent acting” was singled out by the Des Moines Register.
Ms. Quagliata’s versatility is evident from the wide variety of her roles, which have also included Sister James in Douglas Cuomo’s Doubt and Fricka in Wagner’s Das Rheingold and Die Walküre (Union Avenue Opera); Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd and Suzuki in Madama Butterfly (Pensacola Opera); Emilia in Verdi’s Otello (Jacksonville Symphony); Rosina in The Barber of Seville (Washington DC’s National Philharmonic) and Bertha in the same opera (Pensacola Opera). Other roles have included Dorabella in Così Fan Tutte, Arsamenes in Xerxes and Lisak in The Cunning Little Vixen.
Elise Quagliata’s orchestral credits include solo performances of Duruflé’s Requiem (Pacific Symphony); Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky (Jacksonville Symphony); Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius (Savannah Philharmonic); Mahler’s Rückert Lieder (Reno Philharmonic); Verdi’s Requiem (Brazil’s Orquestra Filarmônica de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte); Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody (Buffalo Philharmonic); Montsalvatge’s Cinco Canciones Negras (Pensacola Symphony); Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (Santa Barbara Symphony, Reno Philharmonic and Westfield Symphony); deFalla’s El Amor Brujo ( New Hampshire Symphony); deFalla’s Sombrero Tres Picos ( Virginia Symphony); and Mozart’s Requiem (New River Valley Symphony).
An impressive recitalist, the artist has performed in New York City, Miami and Pensacola, where she welcomed the King and Queen of Spain with DeFalla and Obradors. She has been featured on university recital series in Illinois, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Florida, as well as in concert venues in Switzerland and Italy. Adept in a variety of repertoire from early music to contemporary and from jazz to cabaret, Ms. Quagliata has been especially lauded for her exceptional performances of American, Czech, German and Spanish works, and praised for the “glorious grace” which has characterized her interpretation of standards from Cole Porter to Kurt Weill.