Kathleen Kelley enjoys a dynamic musical life as a pianist, opera coach, conductor, teacher, and writer. Her 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. Her 2019-20 season includes recital dates with mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton in Atlanta, San Francisco and London, return conducting engagements at Opera Columbus and El Paso Opera, and many new collaborations in Cincinnati, where she joined the opera faculty of the College-Conservatory of Music in 2018.
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. 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 visiting master 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. She joins the faculties of the Wintergreen Vocal Intensive and the Aspen Opera Center in summer 2019.
Kathleen’s commitment to new music, particularly American music, is a major part of her musical life. She has prepared or conducted workshops or performances of operas by William Bolcom, Tobias Picker, Matthew Aucoin, Ricky Ian Gordon, Jake Heggie, Laura Kaminsky, and Daron Hagen. In the 2019-20 season, her recital programs will include world premieres by Juliana Hall and Judith Shatin.
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, 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, Troy Cook, Amber Wagner, Susan Graham, Albina Shagimuratova, Valentina Nafornita, 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. 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! Her English adaptation of Smetana’s The Bartered Bride will premiere in November 2019. Kathleen has also commissioned settings of three of her poems from composers David Hanlon, Jamie Leidwinger, and Juliana Hall.