Soprano Emily Birsan has been praised by the Chicago Tribune for her “fineness of expression…” and by Madison Isthmus as having a “…strong, clear, handsomely balanced and beautiful voice,” and as “…an artist with a very great promise for the future.”
On the brink of an international career, Emily recently finished her third year as a member of the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Ms. Birsan was most recently heard on the main stage of the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Servilia in the critically acclaimed Sir David McVicar production La clemenza di Tito and the 1st Flower Maiden in a new production of Wagner’s Parsifal. In addition, Ms. Birsan has covered multiple roles including Adele in Die Fledermaus, Violetta in La traviata, and Norina in Don Pasquale at the Lyric. The 2014-2015 season marked her return to the Lyric Opera of Chicago for their 60th anniversary season as the Italian Singer in Strauss’ Capriccio. Additionally, she sang Leïla in Les pêcheurs de perles with Florida Grand Opera, Strauss’ Alpine Symphony with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, the cover of Violetta in La traviata with Fort Worth Opera, and Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress with the Edinburgh International Festival. This season, she will debut with Boston Lyric Opera and Madison Opera as Musetta in La bohème as well as joining the Dubuque Symphony for Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem and Bangor Symphony as Mimi in La bohème.
Additional previous operatic credits include joining and Chicago Opera Theater as Bubikopf/The Clever One in the double bill of The Emperor of Atlantis/The Clever One, Mme. Silberklang in Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor with the Grant Park Music Festival, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte with Lawrence, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte with the Ryan Opera Center Workshop, her debut as Xenia in Mussorgksy’s Boris Godunov, and covers of Armida in Handel’s Rinaldo, and Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, all with the Lyric. Ms. Birsan is also featured on 98.7 WFMT-Chicago in a themed recital series (Other Americans in Paris, Shakespeare Songs, 1929, Voices of Women, Chicago), and recorded in collaboration with pianist Virginia Eksin and WFMT the world-premiere of songs of Amy Beach, released in 2014.
Equally at home on the concert stage, Ms. Birsan has performed with the Madison Symphony Orchestra for a series of concerts titled The Gershwin Legacy, as the soprano soloist in Schubert’s Mass in Eb with the Grant Park Symphony, Bach’sMatthäus-Passion as well as a concert of Bach Cantatas No. 22 and 32 with the Madison Bach Musicians, and triumphed in A Mirror on Which to Dwell by Elliot Carter at the Ravinia Festival in July of 2013. “…Birsan trace(d) the jagged intervals of Carter’s six settings of Elizabeth Bishop poems with amazing clarity of diction, accuracy of intonation and fineness of expression…”- John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune 2013. She was also featured as a soloist on the Rush Hour Concert Seriesand has recorded arias for composer Jimmy Lopez’ new opera Bel Canto which will have its world premiere at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2015. Additionally, she is featured in the recording of The Saga of St. Olaf with Sir Andrew Davis and the Bergen Philharmonic.
In 2014, Ms. Birsan was awarded first prize from the Musicians Club of Women Competition, was the 2014 Richard F. Gold Career Grant through the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and was a finalist for the Sara Tucker Study Grant with the Richard Tucker Foundation. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree from Lawrence Conservatory in Appleton, WI and her Master of Music degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Music in 2010, where she performed the title roles in Massenet’sThaïs, Handel’s Alcina and Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda. A student of Julia Faulkner, Ms. Birsan was also awarded the Paul Collins Fellowship during her residency at the university. She was Winner of the 2010 Rose M. Grundman Scholarship from the Civic and Arts Union League Competition, First Place in the 2007 Senior Women’s Division of the National Association of Teachers of Singing Competition, and multiple award wins from 2008-2011 at the Upper Midwest Region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.