Artist of the Week: Laquita Mitchell
American Soprano Makes New Orleans Opera in ‘An Homage to Josephine Baker’By Francisco Salazar
On Jan. 6 the New Orleans Opera is set to present “An Homage to Josephine Baker,” an evening that will include Tom Cipullo’s “Josephine” and the world premiere of the ballet “Josephine.” The performances are sold out and are part of New Orleans Opera’s mission to increase access to the art form for all New Orleanians and to produce more operas that reflect the diversity of the city. That includes the engagement of BIPOC creatives in all aspects.
The production will star Laquita Mitchell in the title role “Josephine” in her house debut. Mitchell has previously performed the work at Opera Colorado in 2019 and curated a digital series in 2021 which also included the famed work.
Over the years Mitchell has performed a variety of repertoire including the classic gems and more modern works such as “Porgy and Bess,” Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915,” Tippett’s “A Child of our Time,” Margaret Bonds and Langston Hughes’ “The Ballad of the Brown King” and Paul Moravec’s oratorio “Sanctuary Road,” which was nominated for a Grammy. She has also performed works by Bizet, Mozart, Verdi, and Mahler.
Throughout the years she has garnered acclaim in North America and Europe. and has performed at the Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, New York City Opera, Washington National Opera, and Opéra Comique in Paris.
Critics have raved noting Mitchell has a “rich, shimmering and sizable” voice and “her singing is tender and expressive.” No doubt New Orleans audience are in for a treat as Mitchell will bring her powerful and expressive voice to the role of the iconic Josephine Baker.
Mitchell is a Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Grand Prize Winner, a 2004 Sara Tucker Award award winner and is a vocal instructor at the Conservatory of Music of Brooklyn College CUNY. This year she was appointed faculty member at the Mannes College of Music at The New School.
For audiences not in New Orleans for her debut, this year Mitchell will be performing with the On Site Opera, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Brooklyn Art Song Society, and Albany Pro Musica. In the summer, she will headline the highly anticipated world premiere of “Omar” at the Spoleto Festival, portraying the role of Julie.
For those not familiar with the soprano, Mitchell can be seen in the San Francisco Opera’s DVD of Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” and recordings of Margaret Bonds’s “The Ballad of the Brown King” and Paul Moravec’s: “Sanctuary Road.”
Here she is performing a selection of Strauss songs.
Here she is performing “La Traviata” from Opera Memphis.
Here she is performing a selection from Gounod’s “Faust.”