KATHLEEN KELLY’s projects and repertoire are wide-ranging and diverse. From Mozart to commissioned works by her peers, she is both deeply experienced in the classical vocal canon and engaged in new creation. Spring and summer of 2022 will find Kathleen conducting the premiere of Matt Boehler’s FAT PIG for Victory Hall Opera, performing a recital with bass-baritone Ryan McKinny, recording four world premiere song cycles with soprano Emily Albrink Katz, playing chamber music at the Sewanee and Wintergreen Festivals, and relocating to Texas where she’ll join the faculty of Baylor University. 

The first woman and first American named as Director of Musical Studies at the Vienna State Opera, Kathleen’s operatic experience is the backbone of her career. Trained at the San Francisco Opera, she joined the company’s music staff and moved from there to a long association with the Metropolitan Opera. She was head of music at Houston Grand Opera, and music director of the Berkshire Opera before moving to Vienna. Since returning to the USA in 2015, Kathleen has conducted at the Glimmerglass Festival, Wolf Trap Opera, Arizona Opera, El Paso Opera, Opera Columbus, the Merola Program, and the Alexandria Symphony, and has been a regular visiting coach for the prestigious young artist programs of Chicago Lyric Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, and the Canadian Opera Company.

Kathleen’s recital career includes appearances at Weill Hall, Zankel Hall, the Kennedy Center, Vienna’s Musikverein, the Mahlersaal of the Vienna State Opera, the Neue Galerie, the Schwabacher Series in San Francisco, the Lied Center in Kansas, and the Tucson Desert Song Festival. Her recent collaboration with Jamie Barton has won wide acclaim, and her partners have included Christine Goerke, Michael Kelly, Ryan McKinny, Troy Cook, Amber Wagner, Susan Graham, Albina Shagimuratova, Sorin Coliban, Joyce DiDonato, Ariana Strahl, Martha Guth, Karen Slack, and Jennifer Holloway. She has curated art song series for the Houston Grand Opera and the Vienna State Opera, and is currently involved in the creation of new song through Sparks and Wiry Cries’ songSLAM events.

In demand as a mentor of rising artists, Kathleen has given masterclasses and workshops across North America, among others at the University of Toronto, the Schulich School at McGill University, University of Cincinnati, Baylor University, Vanderbilt University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Michigan, the Peabody Conservatory, University of Washington, Westminster Choir College, and Interlochen. She has served on the juries of the Wirth Prize at McGill University, the Dallas Opera Guild competition, the Kristin Lewis Foundation Scholarship auditions, the Cooper-Bing competition, and the regional Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions.

A published poet and essayist, Kathleen has created several new opera translations and libretti. Her English adaptation of Hansel and Gretel, commissioned by Tri-Cities Opera, is now in use alongside her chamber orchestra arrangement of the work. She created English adaptations of The Bartered Bride (for the Cincinnati Conservatory) and La Boheme (for Opera Columbus). For Arizona Opera, she created a multilingual version of Emmerich Kalman’s Arizona Lady, and she wrote the libretto for David Hanlon’s Wolf Trap premiere Listen, Wilhelmina! 

Kathleen has written on topics of equity and inclusion in the opera industry. She co-presented on “Expanding the Canon” at the NATS National Convention in July 2022, and serves on the Opera America/AGMA Joint Anti-Harassment Task Force, as well as on Opera America’s Artistic Services Council.

Kathy Kelly teaching

Kathleen with the cast of WOZZECK

Kathleen with the cast of WOZZECK at Vienna State Opera

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