Professor of Voice
office: MSM 311
office phone: (713)743-9963
address: 120 School of Music Bldg, Houston, TX 77204-4017
After four decades of critical acclaim for her international opera and concert performances, mezzo-soprano Melanie Sonnenberg is now being recognized as a skilled clinician and adjudicator. Currently Professor of Voice at the Moores School of Music University of Houston, she brings her foundation of bel canto singing, art song literature, and vocal pedagogy to applied voice, curriculum development, and recital programming. In addition to her university and private studio teaching, Professor Sonnenberg serves as Director of Le Chiavi: The Institute of Bel Canto Studies, an advanced training program sponsored by the Texas Music Festival, which she co-founded in 2008. She leads master classes and lecture demonstrations throughout the United States and abroad.
Professor Sonnenberg’s students have secured professional opera contracts and have participated in national apprentice programs, including, but not limited to: San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Merola Opera, Music Academy of the West, Sarasota Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Saratoga Opera, Central City Opera, Ft. Worth Opera, Opera Columbus, Virginia Opera, Pittsburgh Summerfest, Utah Opera Festival, and Wichita Opera. She has mentored prizewinners in the Classical Singer Competition, Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Gerda Lissner Competition, Meistersinger Vocal Competition, Kristen Lewis Competition, Harold Haugh Light Opera Competition, and Young Texas Artists Music Competition.
Possessing commanding vocal and dramatic skills, Professor Sonnenberg has built a diverse repertoire of nearly sixty roles, impressing audiences with distinctive interpretations of bel canto to French and Russian opera. Recognized as “a rich and fluent mezzo” by The New York Times, and “a master and virtuosa of voice” by Opernwelt, her leading performances in Europe, the United States, and Canada, with such companies as the Hamburg Staatsoper, Teatro San Carlo, Graz Oper, Salzburg Festspielhaus, Tokyo Yoyogi Arena, New York City Opera, Washington National Opera, Dallas Opera, Seattle Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, San Diego Opera, New Orleans Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Edmonton Opera, Opera Ontario, among others, have garnered critical and public accolades.
She made her European debut as Marina in Boris Godunov with the Graz Opera, followed by Carmen with the Hamburg Staatsoper, Graz Oper, and the Tokyo Yoyogi Arena, Isabella in L’italiana in Algeri with the Teatro San Carlo, Princess Eboli in Don Carlo, Preziosilla in La Forza del Destino, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and Giulietta in Hoffmann’s Erzählungen with the Graz Oper. She also sang Flosshilde in Das Rheingold and Siegrune in Die Walküre for the Salzburg Festspielhaus and Graz Oper.
Highlights of some fifty bel canto productions performed by Professor Sonnenberg include the critical edition premieres of La donna del lago (Malcolm) and Il viaggio a Reims (Marchesa Melibea), in addition to the leading roles of La Cenerentola, L’italiana in Algeri, Il barbiere di Siviglia, and La pietra del paragone. She premiered new productions with the New York City Opera, performing Kontchakovna in Prince Igor, Marie De Pays in the American premiere of Jost Meier’s The Dreyfus Affair, and Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana. Her Carnegie Hall debut came as Smeton in Anna Bolena with the Opera Orchestra of New York and her Town Hall debut was as Malcolm in La Donna del Lago. Symphonic appearances include the Buffalo Philharmonic, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Grazer Philharmonic, San Antonio Symphony, Little Orchestra of New York, Louisiana Philharmonic, Texas Music Festival, Fort Worth Chamber Orchestra, Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Bach Society of St. Louis, and the Victoria and Brazos Symphonies.
In addition to singing the title work, As you set out for Ithaka, on Albany Records, Professor Sonnenberg has recorded Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody and Schubert’s Ständchen with the Turtle Creek Chorale and the Fort Worth Chamber Orchestra for Reference Records. Her film and television credits include Das Rheingold (Flosshilde) and Die Walküre (Siegrune) for Austrian Radio and Television, Cavalleria Rusticana for PBS “Live from Lincoln Center” and The Merry Widow with Beverly Sills for PBS “Great Performances.” The Merry Widow, Anna Bolena, Il viaggio a Reims and Der Ring performances are available through the House of Opera label.
Prior to her arrival at University of Houston, Professor Sonnenberg served on the faculties of Westminster Choir College (2005-2008) and The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. (2007-2008). She holds the Master of Arts in Music and Music Education from Columbia University Teachers College and the Bachelor of Arts of Interdisciplinary Studies from the City University of New York.