Mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala enjoys a vibrant career that spans performance and recording of new opera, song, and concert works, as well beloved operatic roles, traditional concert and oratorio works, German Lieder, French Mélodie, and American and Spanish song.
As the title character in the American Premiere of Dove's The Adventures of Pinocchio at the Minnesota Opera, Adriana Zabala was praised by The Wall Street Journal as showing "tremendous stamina and boy-like flair." The New York Times hailed her as "a vivid, fearless presence," and the L.A. Times as "extraordinary" for her portrayal of the Barbarian Girl in the American premiere of Philip Glass' Waiting for the Barbarians with the Austin Lyric Opera.
In addition to an extensive repertoire of traditional works, Ms. Zabala is a champion of new music: in opera, concert, and song. For her recording with composer and pianist Gregg Kallor, Exhilaration: Dickinson and Yeats Songs, Opera News Online says, "Kallor has found a wonderful exponent in Adriana Zabala, a gifted, agile mezzo-soprano. Kallor knows how to make these words sing, and Zabala gives perfect flight to them. Singing with uncommon clarity and natural beauty, she seems to be deep inside both the poems and Kallor's musical realizations." The duo has performed these songs at Carnegie Hall's Weill Hall, on the Carnegie Room Series in Nyack, NY, in the Ted Mann Concert Hall in Minneapolis, and on the Salzburg International Chamber Music Series in Austria. With baritone Matthew Worth, she will give the premiere of Kallor's new song cycle at New York City's Subculture in spring of 2015.
Operatically, in addition to the two American premieres listed above, Ms. Zabala created roles in John Musto's Volpone and Douglas Cuomo's Doubt. She sang the title role in the world premiere of Robert Aldridge and Herschel Garfein's new opera, Sister Carrie, with the Florentine Opera in October 2016, and created the role of Rosie Chaney in the world premiere of Kevin Puts' and Mark Campbell's The Manchurian Candidate with Minnesota Opera. She also performed the role of Joanna in the revival of Carly Simon's Romulus Hunt with Nashville Opera. In new concert works, Ms. Zabala sang the soloist role in the James Whitbourn's Anne Frank oratorio Annelies, which she also has done with Oratorio Society of Minnesota and will repeat at Montclair State University in New Jersey. She will be a soloist in the upcoming world premiere of Jeffrey Van's Reaping the Whirlwind with the Susquehanna Valley Chorale, and is a soloist on the recent Naxos DVD release of Robert Aldridge and Herschel Garfein's Parables.
Last season included returns to Arizona Opera as Paula in Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas, the New Jersey Symphony for Handel’s Messiah, the Quad City Symphony for Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, Nicklausse in Les contes d'Hoffmann with Madison Opera, and her debut with Angels and Demons Productions as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro. In the 2016–2017 season, Zabala appeared as the title role in Sister Carrie with Florentine Opera, the Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos with Berkshire Opera, and Amore in Diana’s Garden for Minnesota Opera, returning for the world premiere of Dinner at Eight as Lucy Talbot. Next season, she sings Manja in the world premiere of Steal a Pencil for Me with Opera Colorado and encores Florencia in San Diego and Madison.
In the classic repertoire, Ms. Zabala has recently appeared as soloist in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 and the Mozart Requiem with The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, in Messiah with both the Jacksonville and Phoenix Symphonies, in Mahler's Symphony No. 3 with Quad Cities Symphony and Maestro Mark Russell Smith, and in Rossini's Stabat mater with the Berkshire Choral Festival. This season she will return to the Jacksonville Symphony for the Mozart Requiem, perform and record the Requiem with the Florida Bach Festival Society, join Boston's Bay Back Chorale and Orchestra as soloist in Beethoven's Missa solemnis, sing Chausson's Poème de l'amour et de la mer with the Oregon Mozart Players, and join Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra as the alto soloist in Mahler's Symphony No. 2, "Auferstehung."
In the last few seasons, engagements include the world premiere of Douglas Cuomo and John Patrick Shanley's opera Doubt, for which Ms. Zabala created the role of Sister James, the role of Sesto in Handel's Giulio Cesare with The Florentine Opera, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro with both the Florentine Opera and the Jacksonville Symphony, the role of Dorabella with Opera Saratoga, Annina in Der Rosenkavalier with the Minnesota Orchestra, recitalist with the Salzburg International Chamber Music Concerts, soloist with the Jerusalem Symphony, and the role of Isabella Linton in Wuthering Heights with Minnesota Opera.
Ms. Zabala has been seen on the stages of Seattle Opera, Minnesota Opera, Opera Lyra Ottawa, Wolf Trap Opera, the Wildwood Festival, Syracuse Opera, Arizona Opera, Atlanta Opera, Lyric Opera of San Antonio, Opera Carolina, Lake George Opera, Opera Pacific, and Utah Opera, among others. Her most frequently performed traditional roles are Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, the title role in Rossini's La Cenerentola, and Cherubino in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. Other career highlights include many appearances with the New York Festival of Song, soloist at the Caramoor International Music Festival with the Orchestra of St. Luke's, alto soloist with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with Bryn Terfel as Elijah, recitals in the Barns at Wolf Trap, Kennedy Center’s Millenium Stage, the Dallas Museum of Art, Ventford Hall in Lenox, Massachusetts, and in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Ms.Zabala made her European debut under the late Maestro Lorin Maazel as Mercedes in Carmen at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, Spain and returned for the same role and as the Page in Salome with Maestro Zubin Mehta.
Adriana Zabala was raised in Miami, Caracas, Venezuela, and Lake Jackson, Texas. She earned her undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University, was a Fulbright Scholar in Salzburg, studying German Lieder at the Mozarteum, and earned her master's degree at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She was a Resident Artist for two seasons with the Minnesota Opera, was a Young Artist with the Seattle Opera, and is an alumna of the apprentice programs at the Berkshire Opera, the Santa Fe Opera, and the Wolf Trap Opera Company.
Professor Zabala is a proud member of the voice faculty at the University of Minnesota, where in addition to her thriving studio, she teaches graduate vocal literature, administrates a program of collaboration between the Minnesota Opera and the University of Minnesota, teaches a freshman seminar called Shakespeare in Film and Music, and a May Session Global Seminar, Vive les Arts!, in Paris. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two daughters.