Vanessa Naghdi is a young Iranian-American soprano originally from the Washington, D.C. area. She is currently a Resident Young Artist with Opera Colorado. Most recently, Ms. Naghdi created the role of Mrs. Soep and covered Ina Soep in the world premiere opera Steal a Pencil for Me, with music by Gerald Cohen and libretto by Deborah Brevoort. She also debuted the role of Clorinda in the premiere of the company's Cinderella touring production. This season, Ms. Naghdi covered the role of Musetta in La Bohème and will be singing Adina in The Elixir of Love (touring production) as well as covering Nannetta in Falstaff, which she will also perform this spring. In 2015, she joined Arizona Opera as a Teaching Artist in their Education and Outreach department. Ms. Naghdi performed Rusalka in Rusalka: The Littlest Mermaid and as herself in Opera 101 over 100 times throughout Arizona last spring with their touring troupe. She is thrilled to be a part of Opera Colorado's current season.
This past summer, Ms. Naghdi created the title character in the premiere of the original chamber opera Mignon by contemporary composer William Clay with Arizona Chamber Opera. Last season, she made her operatic role debut as Amy March in Little Women as a Young Artist with Nightingale Opera Theatre in Hudson, Ohio. Ms. Naghdi then performed the role of Liat with Annapolis Opera in their production of South Pacific. She has portrayed Nannetta in Falstaff with Harrower Opera in Atlanta, Georgia, Belinda in Dido and Aeneas, Amelia in Amelia al ballo, Dew Fairy in Hansel und Gretel, and Guadalena in La Périchole, among others. Ms. Naghdi was also Suor Genovieffa in Suor Angelica and Solo Angel in Die Jungfrau von Orléans as well as Zerlina in a scene from Don Giovanni with the Mittelsächsisches Theater and Philharmonic in Freiberg, Germany.
The 2015 season held a variety of appearances with Arizona Opera Education, including a performance of Brundibár by Hans Krása in which Ms. Naghdi played Sparrow and Baker. A pioneer of new works, she also performed Native American micro-operas and art songs in both Phoenix and at the Grand Canyon Music Festival. Ms. Naghdi performed Bess Erne's aria from the world premiere of the Riders of the Purple Sage alongside the opera's composer, Craig Bohmler. She had the opportunity of working with Arizona Opera early in her career through their Cover Study Program with Arizona State University. Ms. Naghdi prepared Marie in La fille du régiment, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Norina in Don Pasquale, and Musetta in La Bohème with them.
A diverse performing artist, Ms. Naghdi made her theatrical role debut creating Helen in the premiere of the musical Spellbound! with Southwest Shakespeare Company. She also created the role of Diane Slawyer in the premiere of the new musical Endangered at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Off-Broadway premiere this past summer). Additionally on the musical theater stage, Ms. Naghdi has portrayed Christine Daaé from The Phantom of the Opera at galas with both Arizona Opera and the Pocono Mountains Music Festival in Pennsylvania.
On the concert stage, Ms. Naghdi made her debut with Virginia Opera in their production of Camelot in 2013. Also that year, she performed as soloist with the Washington Women’s Chorus Concert Series at the Strathmore Music Center. Ms. Naghdi has been the soprano soloist in Rutter's Magnificat and in excerpts from Handel's Messiah with the Valley Presbyterian Church Concert Series, for Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, and for Bach cantata Der Herr denket an uns, BWV 196. She has also sung works such as Carmina Burana and Pagliacci with the Arizona Musicfest Orchestra.
Ms. Naghdi won as Finalist in the Concert of Soloists Competition at Arizona State University in 2015, as well as Semi-Finalist in Phoenix Opera’s Southwest Vocal Competition that year. In 2013, she won Second Place in the American Prize in Opera (University Division), and was a winner of the Shirley Rabb Winston Scholarship in Voice from the National Society of Arts and Letters. Ms. Naghdi holds a Master of Music in Opera Performance from Arizona State University in which she was the recipient of the Special Talent Award in Music and the Katherine Herberger Music Scholarship. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance, Magna Cum Laude, from Virginia Commonwealth University.