Recognized for her flexibility and warmth of tone, American soprano Katelyn Lee is making her mark in Chicago and across the United States. She will be performing as a soloist in several tours spanning the Midwest in 2018 and 2019.
Katelyn is a frequent performer at Lyric Opera of Chicago. She recently understudied roles in two Lyric Unlimited productions: Doris Parker in Charlie Parker's Yardbird and the Female Narrator in Jason and the Argonauts. She was also a featured member of the ensemble in Lyric’s My Fair Lady.
Outside of Chicago, Katelyn has performed a variety of opera and musical theatre roles including Rosina in The Barber of Seville, Antonia in Man of La Mancha, Mizzi in the American premiere of The Ball at the Savoy, Cunegonde in Candide, Madame Goldentrill in The Impresario, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, and Königin der Nacht in Die Zauberflöte.
Additionally, Katelyn is an accomplished singer of concert repertoire. She has performed various works with venues such as Chicago Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, and Grant Park Symphony. Her solo repertoire includes Monteverdi's Vespro della beata vergine; J. S. Bach's Mass in B minor, St. Matthew Passion, and St. John Passion; Handel's Messiah, Dixit Dominus, Esther, and Judas Maccabaeus; Mozart's Mass in C minor and Requiem; and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass. Most recently, she performed Handel’s “Eternal Source of Light Divine” with Music of the Baroque under the baton of Jane Glover.
Katelyn’s previous education includes a Master of Music degree from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and a Bachelor of Music degree from University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She is thrilled to be making her Haymarket debut!
Hear Katelyn as Romilda in Serse by George Frideric Handel - Get your tickets now!
What is the story of how you first came to love music and opera?
My mom is a music teacher, and I started out by listening to her teach from the womb! After I was born, I began to sing before I could talk. I would try to mimic vocal exercises that my mom’s students were singing. She then started a community children’s choir program that I sang in all the way through high school. I’m very lucky that my parents had a love for opera and exposed me to it from a very young age. By the time I entered high school, I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life.
What is the biggest challenge you face as an artist?
I often struggle to remain proactive when it comes to seeking out performance opportunities. I give myself pep talks regularly and remind myself to stay driven. As a freelance singer, I have had to learn that work will not present itself to me on a platter (wouldn’t it be nice though?). Success in this field takes so much more than talent. It takes passion, drive, intelligence, perseverance, and a true love for the art form.
Do you have a favorite performer?
I have always loved Beverly Sills. Her charisma, stage presence, and vocal ability are mesmerizing. I wish I could have seen her perform live before she passed.
Do you have a favorite role? Aria? Opera?
I never get tired of La traviata. It’s got everything you’d want from an opera. I would love to play Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare someday. It doesn’t get better than that! All of her arias are glorious.
Do you have any favorite books about music?
I really enjoy books by Willa Cather. They often involve music and opera in particular. I just finished Lucy Gayheart and The Song of the Lark.
What else are you reading?
I recently visited my parents and raided their bookshelves. Currently I’m reading Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler. Her books never disappoint!
Who are your favorite 17th and 18th century composers?
Handel is hands down my favorite composer ever. I have always felt at home singing his works. They’re so well written! I also love Monteverdi, Bach, Haydn, and Mozart.
If you were stranded on a desert island, is there one piece of music you would like to have with you?
“O Salutaris Hostia” by Ēriks Ešenvalds. It’s a stunningly gorgeous choral piece that was recently sung by dear friends at my wedding.
What do you love about HOC?
I love that HOC does not stray from authenticity. Every production I have seen is historically informed, and that is very difficult to find these days.
Do you have a favorite memory from a past HOC event?
My first HOC opera was Haydn’s L’isola disabitata, and I was blown away by the whole production. The singing, costumes, set, and staging were incredible. I knew then and there that I wanted to be involved!
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not making music?
I love to try new restaurants and travel every chance I get.
What is the first thing you think about in the morning?
Can I get away with snoozing one more time?
Do you have any heroes/heroines?
Too many to name, but my parents are at the top of the list. They are selfless, loving, intelligent, fun, kind, generous people. They inspire me every day.
What music do you listen to most often?
I listen to everything! Currently, I’m into Indie Folk music. I love The Beatles, and I could listen to anything out of the Great American Songbook on repeat.
If you had not entered into your current career what do you think you would have done instead?
It’s hard to say! I would have stayed in the music field for sure, so I would have gone either the Music Education or Arts Administration route.
What is your superhero power?
I’m a huge Harry Potter nerd, and I would apparate for sure.
How can we make opera more inclusive, accessible, or diverse?
This is such a tough question to answer and something I think about often. Social media is huge, and I believe that any company must get out there and promote their season as much as possible. Opera is not just for the elite, but many people feel this way because they simply haven’t been exposed to it. Any time I’m involved in a production, I try to invite friends of mine who wouldn’t normally come. Nine times out of ten, they love it!