Meet the Artist: Flight’s Cortez Mitchell


We are so happy to welcome countertenor and Detroit native Cortez Mitchell back to the Minnesota Opera stage. After a stint as our first ever countertenor Resident Artist, he has gone on to enjoy a successful career singing around the world. Now based in San Francisco, Mitchell has spent the last 13 seasons as a part of the renowned choral group, Chanticleer. Recently, he sat down with us to chat about transitioning from choral music to opera, this exciting but challenging role, and this heartwarming opera’s special message of hope.


MN Opera: Describe The Refugee in 3 words.

Cortez Mitchell: He is optimistic, clever, and lonely.

MNOp: What are some of the greatest joys and challenges of singing this role?

CM: My character has some beautiful melodies and a very heartfelt aria. One of the challenges for me was getting comfortable with the sections in less common time signatures like 11/8.

MNOp: What are the themes or messages of this piece that you hope resonate most with audiences?  

CM: I think there is a theme of hope with lots of characters in this show, whether it’s a hope for companionship, renewed love, and, for my character in particular, a new life.

MNOp: After 13 seasons singing with Chanticleer, what is it like transitioning from choral music to opera? Are there any interesting differences or challenges?  

CM: I think one of the differences in opera is not having to be concerned about blending with other singers so much. Opera also gives you a few more tools to deliver a story than the choral setting.

MNOp: You were MN Opera’s first countertenor Resident Artist. What is it like returning to your old stomping grounds?   

CM: I couldn’t be more excited to return to the company where I performed my first operatic role, Cherubino in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. It was an unforgettable and invaluable experience for me.

MNOp: I’m sure you remember that January in the Twin Cities can be intense! Are you ready? Anything you’re excited to see or do? 

CM: Being from Detroit, I’m familiar with the cold but never liked it, and the little tolerance I had has waned being in San Francisco so long. With that being said, you still might find me seeking out some winter fun like snow tubing.

Don’t miss your chance to see Cortez Mitchell perform live when Flight comes to the Ordway for 5 performances, January 25-February 2! Tickets are on sale now, but going fast. Get yours at!

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