American lyric soprano Elyse Anne Kakacek is making her mark with her "unexpectedly deep and honey-colored soprano” (Parterre Box) in opera, oratorio and contemporary music. She has been acclaimed as a “stand out performer” (Opera News) who “can seemingly trill on any note in her scale and hold it out for an entire page of the score” (Vocal Arts Chicago).
In the 2019/2020 season, Ms. Kakacek will appear as the Soprano Soloist for the Mozart Alleluia and Barber Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the Modus Opera and Orchestra in Long Island City. She will also be singing the soprano solos for Purcell’s Come ye sons of art with the early music group Baroquelyn. Shortly after she will revisit Zerlina in Bronx Opera’s production of Don Giovanni. In the spring, Elyse will
create the role of Cora II in Fresh Squeezed Opera’s world premiere of Self Defined Circuits.
Earlier in the season, Ms. Kakacek was honored to sing as a guest artist and ally at Theaster Gates’ Black Artist Retreat at the Park Avenue Armory. She later rejoined the visionary artist in Munich for his The Black Chapel installation at the infamous Haus der Kunst. Elyse created the title role of Princess Maleine at the prestigious La Mama Experimental Theatre in NYC for dell’Arte Opera Ensemble’s first commission. She was described as “captivating as she floated her voice into the heavens with a feathery tone” (Operawire). Ms. Kakacek appeared as the Soprano 1 soloist for Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor with the Long Island Symphonic Association. She was recorded as the soprano voice for Experiments in Opera’s podcast opera, Buick City 1AM created by Jason Cady available on iTunes. Elyse was also the soprano soloist in Franz Liszt’s Sainte Cecile Legende for a promenade concert at the David A. Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center as a part of the Hungarian State Opera’s residency in New York.
Elyse recently released her first album, Untethered, with Matthan Black of True Capture Records. The recording champions the complete song cycles of composer Valerie Saalbach and has been featured on radio stations across the country, including WFMT (National and Chicago), in- flight entertainment, and as a part of WCNY Classic FM’s Feminine Fusion, a program focused on the works of women. Critics have said “there is a crystalline quality to Kakacek’s voice and the chemistry between Kakacek and the pianist could not be better” (The Rehearsal Studio). Untethered is available on all downloadable platforms.
An advocate for new music, Elyse has worked closely with composers such as Whitney George, Aaron Siegel, Jason Cady, Cristina Lord, Matthew Welch, Gianluca Verlingieri, Balint Karosi, Felix Jarrar and Valerie Saalbach. Elyse made her Carnegie Hall (Weill) debut interpreting the new works of composer Georgia Shreve with the Manhattan Contemporary Ensemble, and later recorded these works for Ms. Shreve at the legendary Avatar Studios.
Elyse has sung lead roles for multiple world premieres including: her venue debut at National Sawdust in Brooklyn creating all seven soprano roles for Experiments in Opera’s premiere of And Here We Are, six different lead soprano roles for Experiments in Opera’s production of Flash Operas (20-minute operas based on the short stories of writers from The New Yorker and Saturday Night Live), and the role of Karen in Verlingierei’s The Courtship (Boston and NYC), among others.
Equally in love with traditional repertoire, other career highlights include: Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi, Dafne in L’Euridice, Micaela in Carmen, Nedda in I Pagliacci, Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Despina in Così fan tutte, Norina in Don Pasquale, Musetta in La Bohème, Flora in The Turn of the Screw, Lucia in The Rape of Lucretia, Clorinda in La Cenerentola and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte.
Ms. Kakacek has performed as a soprano soloist in churches across New York City, in works including Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Bach’s St. John Passion, The Coffee Cantata, BWV 151 and BWV 127. She has also appeared as the soprano soloist in Handel’s Messiah with numerous orchestras in the US and as the soloist in Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy for the International Beethoven Festival in Chicago.
Elyse was the First Prize winner for The North International Music Competition, the winner of The Bel Canto Vocal Scholarship in their 31st annual competition, and 2nd Prize Winner for the Lyra New York 2019 Mozart Oratorio Competition. She was also a recipient of the The Lynne Harvey Foundation Scholarship in Honor of Her Sister, Virginia Maier from the Musician's Club of Women. Ms. Kakacek advanced as a New York Regional Finalist for Lyra New York’s Traditional Opera international competition, Talents of the World, Inc.'s international competition, the Premiere Opera Competition and the Kosciuszko Foundation's Marcella Sembrich Competition. She has participated as a Grand Finalist in competitions such as The Elaine Malbin and Mario Lanza Vocal Competition (NYC), The American Prize Competition, The Harold Haugh Vocal Competition (Michigan) and OperaIdol (Chicago).
In addition to her active performance career, Ms. Kakacek is a co-artistic director and founder of Frisson, a collective dedicated to the filmed expression of classical music. Frisson’s first project, L’Eraclito amoroso (in which Elyse sings an aria by Barbara Strozzi) has been screened internationally.
Ms. Kakacek has trained as an actor with the Black Box studio in Chicago and The Gately Poole Institute focusing on the Meisner, Stanislavsky and Checkov techniques. She has completed young artist programs including dell’Arte Opera Ensemble (’17, ’18, ’19), Opera Pomme Rouge’s Resident Artist Program (’16-’17), The Amalfi Coast Music Festival, OpTIC, Chicago Summer Opera, and OperaWorks. She holds an undergraduate degree in Vocal Performance with a minor in Theatre from DePaul University in her hometown, Chicago.