Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, mezzo-soprano Mary Burke Barber, “reveals [her] powerfully rich voice of regal warmth and strength” (critic Patrick D. McCoy). She has performed internationally, having made her debut with the Singapore Lyric Opera Orchestra in 2015. Mary made her operatic debut as Hänsel in Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel with the Peabody Opera Department in 2016. She has since performed the roles of Chérubin (Chérubin, 2018), Drei Knabe (Die Zauberflöte, 2021) and reprised Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel, 2021).
This year, Mary will return to Sarasota Opera as a Studio Artist participating in the productions of Georges Bizet’s Carmen and Joseph Haydn’s L’infedelta Delusa. The Winter of 2023, Mary joined Sarasota Opera as an Apprentice Artist. The Fall of 2022, she joined the Westminster Opera Theater at Rider University as a guest artist to perform the role of Barigoule in a production of Pauline Viardot’s Cendrillon. The Summer of 2022 brought Mary to Vienna, Austria to participate in the Vienna Summer Music Festival. There, she performed the role of Zerlina in W. A. Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and covered the role of Cherubino in W. A. Mozart’s Le Nozze Di Figaro.
In 2023, Mary was awarded the Sarasota Opera Guild Ann J. O’Donnell Award for Outstanding Apprentice Artist. Additionally, she competed as a semi-finalist in the Annapolis Opera Vocal Competition. In 2022, Mary received second place in the NATS Eastern Region Student Auditions (Advanced Level) and a Finalist in the MIOpera Competition. In 2021, she was a finalist in the inaugural Century Opera Competition, awarded first place in the Philadelphia Regional Round of the NATS Student Auditions, and second place in the Vienna Summer Music Festival Competition.
Mary began her musical studies at the Peabody Institute of Music in Baltimore, Maryland under the care of Phyllis Bryn-Julson. During her undergraduate studies, she completed a joint degree with the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music at the National University of Singapore, under the direction of Alan Bennett. She completed her master’s degree at Peabody under the tutelage of Denyce Graves-Montgomery and Margaret Baroody in the Spring of 2018.
American mezzo-soprano Cierra Byrd is a recent graduate of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera. In the 2023/24 season she returns to the Metropolitan Opera reprising Bertha in Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones while also joining the company for their production of Madama Butterfly, joins Houston Grand Opera for their production of Jake Heggie’s Intelligence, and joins PAC NYC for their production of Ruo’s An American Soldier.
She made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Bertha in Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones, and this past season joined the company for Woman of Crete in Idomeneo and Sister Mathilde in Dialogues des Carmélites. Also last season, she made her role and company debut as Fatima in Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels’ new opera Omar at Boston Lyric Opera, sang Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with The Orchestra Now.
Soprano, Symone Harcum comes off of the 2022-2023 season with a successful string of role and house debuts including the Glimmerglass Festival in the role of Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen, Almirena in Handel’s Rinaldo and Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at Minnesota Opera, and at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, she sang the role of Sandra in the world premier of Will Liverman’s Factotum. Last season, Symone appeared with Minnesota Opera as Léontine in The Anonymous Lover and Micaëla in Carmen, Virginia Opera as La Contessa in Le Nozze di Figaro. This season will see a role debut as Mimí in Puccini’s La Boheme at Minnesota Opera as well as recital and concert engagements across the country.
Other notable roles and achievements include first place in the 2021 Opera Ithaca Competition, a 2020 finalist in in both the Tri-Cities Opera Competition and the New York International Opera + Premiere Opera Vocal Competition and first place in both the National Society of Arts and Letters-DC Dorothy Lincoln-Smith Voice Competition and the Sylvia Green Voice Competition in 2018; Singing the role of Mascha and covering Lisa in Pique Dame (Des Moines Metro Opera), Clorinda in La Cenerentola, High Priestess and covering the title role in Aïda (Virginia Opera), Bea in Three Decembers (Opera Maine), Krystyna Zywulska in Out of Darkness: Two Remain, and Gertude in Hansel und Gretel (Peabody Opera).
After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Norfolk State University in 2012, she worked as a choral director in Norfolk Public Schools until 2016. Symone received her Master’s of Music from Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University and continues to study in the studio of Denyce Graves and Margaret Baroody. This year, Symone joins the voice faculty at her alma mater, Norfolk State University.
Maura Langella is a soprano from the Philadelphia area. Before Peabody, Langella studied at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia, where she performed as a selected vocalist for two annual concerts and the 2019 ACCPAS Reaccreditation concert. Langella began studying voice at age 12 and has studied various operatic parts as well as taking part in numerous chorus opportunities. She is currently in her first year at Peabody studying under Margaret Baroody and Denyce Graves-Montgomery.
Annisse Murillo, soprano, is a second-year M.M Voice/Pedagogy student at Johns Hopkins Peabody Conservatory studying under the tutelage of Margret Baroody and Denyce Graves. In 2015, she received a full-tuition scholarship from Mannes School of Music where she ob-tained a Bachelor’s of Music in Voice in 2019. As a young musician, Annisse studied with renowned teachers and musicians in the Washington, DC Metropolitan and New York City areas such as the late Edward Jackson Jr., Bonnie Hamilton, Michele Fowlin, and Regina McConnell.
Early in her career, Annisse’s life and musical journey was featured on the NBC today show. She has also been a featured performer at various venues around the Washington Met-ropolitan area including the John F. Kennedy Center, the White House, the Vice-President’s Res-idence, Capital One Arena, the Music Center at Strathmore, Howard Theatre, Lincoln Theatre, and the Washington National Cathedral. During the Fifty-Sixth and Fifty-Seventh Presidential Inaugural Prayer Services for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, Annisse performed as a solo vocalist. She was also a featured soloist in WPA’s nationally televised musical tribute to Marian Anderson, at DAR Constitution Hall. While at Mannes College of Music, she was featured in opera scenes from Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” as Contessa, and “Die Zauberflöte” as Pamina, Rossini’s “Otello” as Desdemona and Rossini’s “Zelmira” as Zelmira.
In 2018, Annisse participated in the International Music Festival of the Adriatic in Duino, Italy where she performed in a series of concerts, including scenes from Puccini’s “Madama But-terfly” as Cio-Cio-San, throughout Northern Italy and Radovljica, Slovenia. Currently, Annisse is preparing the role of Despina in Cosi fan Tutte with the Peabody Opera Theatre.
Mezzo-soprano and communication scholar, Isabela Paździerski is dedicated to healing and influencing others through performance. As a curator of emotions, she is committed to communicating and connecting with her audiences. Isabela hails from New Jersey, where she was raised by her Polish parents. She began her studies in voice right before attending West Chester University of Pennsylvania, where she holds degrees in Vocal Performance and Communication Studies. Most recently, Isabela could be seen as “Laura” in Iolanta with The Russian Opera Workshop, and “Ma Moss” in The Tenderland with WCU Opera Theatre. Her most recent communication engagement was her internship with Opera Philadelphia, where she served and the Marketing and Communication inter for Festival O19. Currently, Isabela is performing “Isolation: A Pastiche”, written by Ann Baltz, in collaboration with Peabody Opera Theatre. Isabela is a first year Master of Music candidate, studying in the studio of Margaret Baroody and Denyce Graves. Coming up, Isabela will be performing in a virtual recital featuring the 410 Studio. When Isabela is not performing she can be seen as a content curator on the lifestyle blog honestomens.com, and as a freelance wildlife photographer on Instagram (@imagesbyiza).
Anna Carolina Pelaes, soprano, from Winston Salem, North Carolina, is a first year Master’s student at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, studying under the tutelage of professors Denyce Graves-Montgomery and Margeret Baroody.
Anna Carolina earned her High School Diploma with a concentration in vocal performance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She also attended the Boston University College of Fine Arts for her Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance with a minor in Arts Leadership, from which she graduated Cum laude in May 2020.
With the Boston University Opera Institute, Anna Carolina has performed the roles of Harry Wood in the main stage production of Albert Herring, as well as the Grasshopper, Chicken, and Kit in the mainstage production of The Cunning Little Vixen. For the scenes performances of the Opera Workshop, she has performed the roles of Ilia in Idomeneo, and Oscar in Un ballo in maschera.
Anna Carolina was one of two recipients of the Ellalou Dimmock Voice Honors Award for outstanding achievement in vocal performance. Anna Carolina is also one of twelve students in the senior class at Boston University to be awarded the Harold C. Case Scholarship for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Last Summer, Anna Carolina attended the Miami Music Festival Opera Institute as an Apprentice where she covered the role of Nuria in Ainadamar, by Osvaldo Golijov. She also served as an intern for the Bendada Music Festival in Bendada, Portugal, July 2019. Currently she performs the role of Despina in Peabody Conservatory’s Opera Theatre production of Cosi fan tutte.