Praised for her “golden-voiced” and “personality-rich” singing, mezzo-soprano Hannah Shea recently finished her time as a member of the Cafritz Young Artists at the Washington National Opera (WNO). Ms. Shea made her Kennedy Center debut as a featured soloist on the 44th Annual Kennedy Center Honors broadcast to honor bass-baritone Justino Díaz in 2021. This season she returns to WNO to cover Jess in the world premier of Jeanine Tesori’s Grounded. Also with WNO, Ms. Shea sang the Third Maid in Strauss’ Elektra, Mercédès in Carmen, covered Dorabella in Così fan tutte, and workshopped various new works for the company’s American Opera Initiative. Other recent highlights include appearances with the National Symphony Orchestra as the alto soloist in Mozart’s Requiem, the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera as the alto soloist in Handel’s Messiah, and with Annapolis Opera as Marcellina in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. This summer Ms. Shea was a Renée Fleming Artist at the Aspen Music Festival, singing Edith Thibault in Jimmy Lopez’ Bel Canto and the alto solo in Bach’s Magnificat.
Ms. Shea was recently National Semi-finalist in the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition after winning in the Arizona District and the Rocky Mountain Region. In the spring of 2022 she was the first prize winner of the Annapolis Opera Competition. Ms. Shea has been a finalist in other prestigious competitions such as Houston Grand Opera’s (HGO) 2021 Eleanor McCollum Competition, Pittsburgh Festival Opera’s 2020 Mildred Miller International Voice Competition, and the 2020 Houston Saengerbund Awards.
An alumna of the HGO Young Artist Vocal Academy (2019), Hannah has since performed in HGO’s virtual outreach production of Katie: The Strongest of the Strong by Faye Chiao in the fall of 2020.
During her studies at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, Ms. Shea sang the La tasse chinoise in Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges and Nelda in Kamala Sankaram’s Taking Up Serpents. She also appeared as the title role in scenes from Bizet’s Carmen and Federico Moreno Torroba’s Luisa Fernanda.
A lover of new music, Ms. Shea premiered Songs of Strength, a song cycle dedicated to her previous voice teacher, mezzo-soprano Mildred Miller. In 2019 the work was commissioned, premiered, and recorded by her alma mater Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), composed by Marilyn Taft Thomas, and features the poetry of Maya Angelou.
Photograph by Caitlin Oldham
Previous concert performances include the alto soloist in Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky (CMU), Handel’s Messiah (Bach Choir of Pittsburgh), and as a Street Singer in Bernstein’s Mass (Brevard Music Center). Previous operatic roles include the Third Lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Fidalma in Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto, and Prince Orlofsky in J. Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, all performed with the CMU School of Music. She has also covered the title role in Handel’s Xerxes (Pittsburgh Festival Opera).
Ms. Shea holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University where she studied with acclaimed mezzo-soprano Mildred Miller, and holds a Master of Music degree from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where she studied with Dr. Robin Rice.