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 reprised her role of Nannetta in Falstaff under the baton of Maestro Ari Pelto. She created the role of Mrs. Soep and covered Ina Soep in the world premiere of the 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 performed as Rusalka in Rusalka: The Littlest Mermaid over 100 times with Arizona Opera throughout the state. She made her debut as Amy March in Little Women with Nightingale Opera Theatre. Ms. Naghdi then performed the role of Liat with Annapolis Opera in their production of South Pacific. That summer, she created the title role in the world premiere of the original chamber opera Mignon by contemporary composer William Clay with Arizona Chamber Opera. Ms. Naghdi has also portrayed Nannetta in Falstaff with Harrower Opera, Amelia in Amelia al ballo, Belinda in Dido and Aeneas, and Dew Fairy in Hansel und Gretel, among others. She was also Suor Genovieffa in Suor Angelica and Solo Angel in Die Jungfrau von Orléans with the Mittelsächsisches Theater and Philharmonic conducted by Maestro Jan Horstmann in Freiberg, Germany.
The 2015-2016 season held a variety of appearances with Arizona Opera, including a concert version of Brundibár by Hans Krása in which Ms. Naghdi sang Sparrow and Baker. A pioneer of new works, she also world premiered Native American micro-operas and art songs in both Phoenix and at the Grand Canyon Music Festival. Also that season, Ms. Naghdi performed Bess Erne's aria from the world premiere of the opera Riders of the Purple Sage accompanied by the opera's composer, Craig Bohmler. She also worked with Arizona Opera 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.
Equally at home in musical theater, Ms. Naghdi debuted in creating the role of 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 (which had its Off-Broadway premiere in the summer of 2017). Additionally, Ms. Naghdi has portrayed Christine Daaé from The Phantom of the Opera at galas with both Arizona Opera and the Pocono Mountains Music Festival.
As an experienced concert artist, Ms. Naghdi has performed with Virginia Opera in their production of Camelot. She has also 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 as well as the Soprano Soloist in excerpts from Handel's Messiah with the Valley Presbyterian Church Concert Series. Additionally, she has 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 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. 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 and a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Virginia Commonwealth University.