NEW YORK – Greek-American mezzo-soprano Daveda Karanas performed with the Athens Philharmonic during their debut at Carnegie Hall under the direction of conductor Yiannis Hadjiloizou on October 10 which also happened to be her own debut as well at the legendary concert hall. Her remarkable performance in the evening’s final piece on the program, Mahler’s Symphony No.2 Resurrection, impressed the audience with her powerful voice and masterful technique. Following the concert, Karanas took time out of her busy schedule and spoke with The National Herald about her Greek roots, what inspires her as an artist, how she became involved with the Athens Philharmonic concert, and her upcoming projects.
Among her credits are her German debut at Oper Frankfurt as Marfa in Khovanshchina and her debut at the Canadian Opera Company as Brangane in Tristan und Isolde, conducted by Johannes Debus and directed by Peter Sellars. She joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera in their production of the Berlioz masterpiece Les Troyens covering the role of Cassandre and made an acclaimed European debut at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino as Judit in Bluebeard’s Castle under Zsolt Hamar in the festival’s 75th Anniversary. Karanas debuted the role of Azucena in Il trovatore at Opera Grand Rapids and sang her first performances of Amneris in Aida at Arizona Opera, followed by Vancouver Opera, and The Glimmerglass Festival in a new production by Francesca Zambello. She made her New Orleans Opera debut as Hasbeena in Burlesque Opera Tabasco and made her role debut as Jezibaba in Rusalka at Arizona Opera.
A winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Karanas also received an encouragement award from the George London Foundation, was an international semi-finalist in the Neue Stimmen Competition, an Encouragement Award recipient at the Marilyn Horne Foundation Competition, and grand prize winner of the Arizona Opera League Competition.
TNH: Where in Greece is the family from?
Daveda Karanas: My family is from Northern Greece. My grandmother was from the wine region of Naoussa and my grandfather was from Mavrochori, a small village in Kastoria.
TNH: What inspires you most as an artist?
DK: Ultimately, the music is what inspires me the most as an artist. I didn't find my true voice, or what I wanted to share with the world, until I started singing. As a storyteller, there is no greater medium than through music. There are many components to the music that inspire me as an artist: the melody, the text, the complexity of the piece, the history, the accompaniment, the language, etc.
TNH: How did you get involved with the Athens Philharmonic concert at Carnegie Hall?
DK: My dear friend, conductor Steven Mercurio, introduced me to Yiannis Hadjiloizou and the Athens Philharmonic. He is a friend of Yiannis and knew they were programming Mahler 2 at Carnegie Hall. Steven graciously recommended me as the mezzo-soprano soloist and I am so thrilled he did, as I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working with Yiannis and the Athens Philharmonic. It felt like a homecoming to me, making music with my Greek family. While the week and concert went by too quickly, I know it won't be our last collaboration!
TNH: What can we look forward to as far as upcoming projects are concerned?
DK: In January, I am presenting two recitals with Michael Lewis, founder and artistic director of Aural Compass Projects (ACP), in Phoenix, Arizona. ACP is a musical arts organization dedicated to performing new and less-performed works of composers from all parts of the world, especially those belonging to marginalized communities. The recital, "Much Has Fallen Silent: Jewish Songs of the 20th Century," will feature works by Rosy Wertheim, Viktor Ullmann, Pavel Haas, Ilse Weber, and Mieczyslaw Weinberg. In late April, I will make my house debut with Hawaii Opera Theater singing the role of Herodias in Richard Strauss' Salome. In June, I will be in Madrid, Spain singing Liese in Mieczyslaw Weinberg's The Passenger with Teatro Real.
More information about Daveda Karanas is available online: davedakaranas.com.