Julia Soojin Cavallaro, mezzo-soprano, enjoys a richly varied career in opera, oratorio, recital, and chamber music. Critics have praised her “round, chocolaty tone” (Boston Classical Review) and her “warm mezzo, perfect diction, and easy phrasing” (New York Classical Review). Her rendition of Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben in a site-specific, immersive staging with Boston Opera Collaborative was selected by Boston Classical Review as one of its “Top Ten Performances of 2017.”
Born and raised in the Boston area, Ms. Cavallaro grew up in an Italian/Korean American household filled with music and art. A graduate of Harvard College and Boston University, she has since gone on to sing with many of the leading ensembles in New England, including the Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Early Music Festival, Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Boston Opera Collaborative, Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras, Schola Cantorum of Boston, Seven Times Salt, Trinity Church in the City of Boston, and most recently, New Camerata Opera in New York City.
Her opera roles include Cupid in John Blow’s Venus & Adonis, the Sorceress in Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas, Madame de Volanges in Conrad Susa’s The Dangerous Liaisons, and the title role in Evan Mack’s Angel of the Amazon. Critics commended her recent performance as Cupid in Venus & Adonis: “Julia Cavallaro excelled by means of humor and superb diction” (Voce di Meche) and “[she] was a model of consistency, bringing a firm, warm mezzo, perfect diction, and easy phrasing as Cupid” (New York Classical Review). As the Sorceress in Dido & Aeneas, “the resonance of Cavallaro’s voice robustly embodied the power of her character” (The Boston Musical Intelligencer).
Frequently heard as an oratorio soloist, her recent concert highlights include Bach’s Magnificat with Masterworks Chorale, Bach’s Mass in B minor with the Choirs of Trinity Church in Boston, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with the New England Classical Singers, Handel’s Messiah with the Concord Chorus, and Mozart’s Requiem with the Jameson Singers. Of her solo performances, critics have written, “Julia Cavallaro’s mezzo-soprano voice possesses a distinctive, beautiful quality all her own” (The Concord Journal) and “her ability to ring changes in vocal characterization from dramatic narration to hopeful expectation to passionate outcry to cheerful moralizing was astonishing” (The Boston Musical Intelligencer).
An active chamber musician and recitalist, Ms. Cavallaro is passionate about early music, art song, and contemporary repertoire. Recent programs have included such works as J.S. Bach’s solo cantata “Ich habe genug,” Brahms’ Songs for Alto and Viola, songs by C.P.E. Bach with fortepianist Sylvia Berry, Fauré’s Cinq melodies de Venise, Haydn’s solo cantata Arianna a Naxos, music of Shakespeare’s Globe with Seven Times Salt, Luigi Nono’s Das atmende Klarsein (a North American premiere), Satie’s Socrate in English translation, and Virgil Thomson’s Praises and Prayers. Upcoming projects include a recital of song cycles by Finzi, Lister, Poulenc, and Schumann with Rodney Lister, composer and pianist.
In addition to her career as a vocalist, Ms. Cavallaro composes for voice, piano, and chamber ensemble. She has premiered several of her own works at Tufts University with composer and pianist John McDonald. Their most recent collaboration was a joint recital with saxophonist Philipp Stäudlin, exploring themes of “Work and Life” through new music, as well as songs by Poulenc, Schubert, and Joaquín Nin. In March 2019, she will rejoin Tufts Composers for a performance of Luciano Berio’s Folk Songs with Ensemble/Parallax, along with response pieces written by student composers. Ms. Cavallaro is one of twelve composers selected for the Art Song Lab 2019, a collaborative institute that brings together composers, poets, and performers from around the world to nurture the creation of original art songs. The program culminates in July 2019 with a week-long intensive program in Vancouver, BC, where the songs will be workshopped and premiered.
Ms. Cavallaro received her master’s degree from Boston University and bachelor’s degree from Harvard College. She also attended training programs at the Amherst Early Music Festival, Boston Early Music Festival, International Baroque Institute at the Longy School of Music, Vancouver Early Music Festival, and the Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt Weimarer Meisterkurse with Vivica Genaux. From 2015–2018, she was a Staff Singer at Trinity Church in the City of Boston and Administrative Coordinator of the Tufts University Department of Music. Through this work, she strove to provide musical education at the highest level for students of many ages and diverse backgrounds, and to support the study of musical cultures from around the globe.
Ms. Cavallaro currently resides in New Haven, CT, where she is a member of the professional choir of Christ Church. She and her husband have two cats named Pumpkin and Ginger, affectionately known as “Bun and Gin.”