Professor of Voice
As Professor of Voice at the Moores School of Music University of Houston, Melanie Sonnenberg, mezzo-soprano, has brought her experience as international performer and clinician and her foundation of bel canto singing, art song literature and vocal pedagogy into new curriculum development and programming. She is the Director of Le Chiavi: The Institute of Bel Canto Studies, an advanced training program for singers sponsored by the Texas Music Festival. In addition, she has led master classes and lecture demonstrations in Europe and throughout the United States and served as adjudicator for numerous vocal contests, especially the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Classical Singer Competition, and Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Ms Sonnenberg’s students have secured professional opera contracts and have participated in national apprentice programs, including, but not limited to: San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Merola Opera, Music Academy of the West, Sarasota Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Ft. Worth Opera, Opera Columbus, Pittsburgh Summerfest, Utah Opera Festival, Wichita Opera, and Virginia Opera. She has mentored prizewinners in the Classical Singer Competition, Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Gerda Lissner Competition, and Young Texas Artists Music Competition.
Possessing commanding vocal and dramatic skills, Ms Sonnenberg has built a diverse repertoire of nearly sixty roles. She has impressed the music world with distinctive interpretations of bel canto to French and Russian opera. Recognized as “a rich and fluent mezzo” by The New York Times, and “a master and virtuosa of voice” by Opernwelt, her leading performances in Europe, the United States, and Canada, with such companies as the Hamburg Staatsoper, Teatro San Carlo, Graz Oper, Salzburg Festspielhaus, Tokyo Yoyogi Arena, New York City Opera, Washington National Opera, Dallas Opera, Seattle Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, San Diego Opera, New Orleans Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Edmonton Opera, Opera Ontario, among others, have garnered critical and public acclaim.
She made her European debut as Marina in Boris Godunov with the Graz Opera, followed by Carmen with the Hamburg Staatsoper, Graz Oper, and the Tokyo Yoyogi Arena, Isabella in L’italiana in Algeri with the Teatro San Carlo, Princess Eboli in Don Carlo, Preziosilla in La Forza del Destino, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and Giulietta in Hoffmann’s Erzählungen with the Graz Oper. She also sang Flosshilde in Das Rheingold and Siegrune in Die Walküre for the Salzburg Festspielhaus and Graz Oper.
Of some fifty bel canto productions, Ms Sonnenberg sang the critical edition premieres of La donna del lago (Malcolm) and Il viaggio a Reims (Marchesa Melibea), in addition to the leading roles of La Cenerentola, L’italiana in Algeri, Il barbiere di Siviglia, and La pietra del paragone. She premiered new productions with the New York City Opera, performing Kontchakovna in Prince Igor, Marie De Pays in the American premiere of Jost Meier’s The Dreyfus Affair, and Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana. Her Carnegie Hall debut came as Smeton in Anna Bolena with the Opera Orchestra of New York and her Town Hall debut was as Malcolm in La Donna del Lago. Symphonic appearances include the Buffalo Philharmonic, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Grazer Philharmonic, San Antonio Symphony, Little Orchestra of New York, Louisiana Philharmonic, Texas Music Festival, Fort Worth Chamber Orchestra, Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Bach Society of St. Louis, and the Victoria and Brazos Symphonies.
In addition to singing the title work, As you set out for Ithaka, on Albany Records, Ms Sonnenberg has recorded Brahms Alto Rhapsody and Schubert’s Ständchen with the Turtle Creek Chorale and the Fort Worth Chamber Orchestra for Reference. Her film and television credits include Das Rheingold (Flosshilde) and Die Walküre (Siegrüne) for Austrian Radio and Television, Cavalleria Rusticana for PBS “Live from Lincoln Center” and The Merry Widow with Beverly Sills for PBS “Great Performances.” The Merry Widow, Anna Bolena, Il viaggio a Reims and Der Ring performances are available through the House of Opera label.
She has sung numerous concerts, especially with the Newport Music Festival, where in fifteen seasons, she collaborated with many renowned musicians, including Jean-Philippe Collard and Dimitri Sitkovetsky. She and pianist, Eteri Andjaparidze, performed “They’ve Got Music: Rachmaninoff and Gershwin” at the National Gallery, Washington, D.C., The Great Hall in Tbilisi, Georgia, and the Summer Piano Festival at New Paltz, New York.Prior to her arrival at University of Houston, Professor Sonnenberg served on the faculties of Westminster Choir College (2005-2008) and The Catholic University of Washington D.C. (2007-2008). She is a recipient of grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, Inc., the Matheus Sullivan Foundation, the National Opera Institute of Opera and Music Theater, and prizes from the Metropolitan Opera National Council, the Merola Opera Program, the Schubert Club, and Thursday Musical. She holds the Master of Arts in Music and Music Education from Columbia University Teachers College and the Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from the City University of New York.