Artist Profile: Carol Vaness, A Great Mozartian Soprano

By David Salazar

Carol Vaness’ is one of the United States’ great sopranos of the late 20th century.

Born on July 27, 1952, in San Diego, she was off and running in her mid-20s when she first appeared with the San Francisco Opera. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at the California State Polytechnic University and her Masters at California State University Northridge.

She was a fixture at the New York City Opera between 1979 and 1983 before making a major career at the Metropolitan Opera. She would also appear at such houses as La Scala, the Vienna State Opera, and Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. She also performed at the Salzburg Festival and Lyric Opera of Chicago.

In 2006, she ended her singing career and began teaching at Indiana University.

Major Roles

She performed a ton of Mozart operas throughout her prime, particularly in “Don Giovanni,” “Idomeneo,” “Così fan Tutte,” and “La Clemenza di Tito,” some going as far as to call them definitive interpretations.

But the other major role in her career is none other than the title role in “Tosca,” which she performed alongside Pavarotti in his final performance on the opera stage.

“Her singing had beauty and shape, and if it she was never as wrenching as a Tosca should be, she offered moments that were both vocally and dramatically affecting,” said the New York Times review of her performance in 2004.

“Carol Vaness is a good Tosca in absolutely secure voice, and she even manages some hateful chest-register explosions in the long Act 2 confrontation with Scarpia,” added a review of a recording with Muti.

Watch and Listen
Here she is in “Tosca” alongside Plácido Domingo.

And here is an excerpt from “La Clemenza di Tito.”


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