Vanessa Naghdi, soprano is a young Iranian-American originally from the Washington, D.C. area. She recently completed an 8-month residency with Opera Colorado as an Artist in Residence. While there, Ms. Naghdi performed as well as covered the role of Nannetta in Falstaff. She 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. Ms. Naghdi also performed the role of Adina in The Elixir of Love and debuted the role of Clorinda in the premiere of Cinderella (touring productions). She covered the role of Musetta in La Bohème with the company. Ms. Naghdi is thrilled to be returning to Arizona Opera this season.
During the 2016-2017 season, Ms. Naghdi toured as Rusalka in Rusalka: The Littlest Mermaid and as herself in Opera 101, performing over 100 times with Arizona Opera throughout the state. She made her operatic role debut as Amy March in Little Women as a Young Artist with Nightingale Opera Theatre. Ms. Naghdi then performed the role of Liat with Annapolis Opera in their production of South Pacific. Last summer, she created the title character in the premiere of the original chamber opera Mignon by contemporary composer William Clay with Arizona Chamber Opera. Ms. Naghdi has portrayed Nannetta in Falstaff with Harrower Opera, Belinda in Dido and Aeneas, Amelia in Amelia al ballo, Dew Fairy in Hansel und Gretel, and Guadalena in La Périchole, among others. She was also Suor Genovieffa in Suor Angelica and Solo Angel in Die Jungfrau von Orléans with the Mittelsächsisches Theater and Philharmonic in Freiberg, Germany.
The 2015 season held a variety of appearances with Arizona Opera, including an outreach 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 opera 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 in the summer of 2017). 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.
On the concert stage, Ms. Naghdi performed 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 was the soprano soloist in Rutter's Magnificat and in excerpts from Handel's Messiah with the Valley Presbyterian Church Concert Series. She has also been the soprano soloist in Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, for Bach cantata Der Herr denket an uns, BWV 196, and with the Mittelsächsisches Theater and Philharmonic for their Bergstadtfest Concert in Freiberg, Germany. Ms. Naghdi has also sung works such as Carmina Burana and Pagliacci with the Arizona Musicfest Orchestra.
Ms. Naghdi was awarded by the Dorothy Lincoln Smith Voice Competition from the National Society of Arts and Letters and was a Semi-Finalist in Phoenix Opera’s Southwest Vocal Competition this past year. She won as Finalist in the Concert of Soloists Competition at Arizona State University in 2015. In 2013, Ms. Naghdi 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. She 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. Ms. Naghdi holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance, Magna Cum Laude, from Virginia Commonwealth University.