Seattle Opera today announced that its new Chorus Director and Head of Music Team is Michaella Calzaretta, an experienced conductor acclaimed for her high standards and superb preparation skills. Calzaretta will prepare the 36-member Seattle Opera Chorus, which will be presented during the 2022/23 season in The Elixir of Love, Tristan and Isolde, Samson and Delilah in Concert and La traviata. Additionally, Calzaretta will oversee the company’s musical activities, aiming for the highest standards in musical performance.
The appointment comes after an extensive search by Executive Director Christina Scheppelmann and Director of Artistic Administration and Planning Aren Der Hacopian. Calzaretta succeeds John Keene, longtime Seattle Opera Chorus Director, who accepted a position as Chorus Director at San Francisco Opera in January.
Calzaretta will step into the role immediately to prepare the chorus for the company’s upcoming production, The Elixir of Love, which runs Aug. 6-20 at McCaw Hall.
“I am thrilled to bring Michaella’s energy and experience to work with Seattle Opera,” said Christina Scheppelmann. “Michaella immediately connected with our backing vocalists, immediately creating positive musical results. Her collaborative style and thoughtful approach fit perfectly into our business.”
Aren Der Hacopian said, “We are thrilled to have Michaella join us as our new choir director and music staff manager. Her positive attitude and genuine passion for creating art is infectious, and we are honored that she has accepted. to join us as we build toward a flourishing future.”
“Opera choirmasters often start their careers as coaches, pianists or conductors; I think it’s great that Michaella was a singer and choirmaster first,” said Jay Rozendaal, coach-accompanist and orchestra librarian. “She brings a fresh perspective to the role that will be a real asset to the company in general and the choir in particular.”
Calzaretta previously served as choirmaster and assistant conductor at Utah Opera, where she recently completed her fifth season. Among her many accomplishments, Calzaretta has been recognized for her consistent performance and well-balanced ensemble sound. She made her conducting debut in October 2020 with performances by The Human Voice and Gentleman’s Island. His other accomplishments include Damn Yankees and The Merry Widow with Pittsburgh Festival Opera, and Patience with the Gilbert and Sullivan Society at Indiana University.
Calzaretta is a Doctoral Candidate (ABD) in Choral Conducting at Indiana University, and she holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, and a Master of Music in Conducting University of Missouri-Kansas City Choir.
“I’m honored to join such an exceptional organization and can’t wait to get started,” said Calzaretta. “My time auditioning with the Seattle Opera Chorus has been exhilarating and I look forward to diving into partnering with the wonderful musical and artistic staff to perform this season and plan many more.”
Calzaretta brings a wealth of experience with both new operas and established favorites to the role, a foundation she plans to build on in Seattle. “Seattle Opera is a leader in presenting high-quality traditional repertoire while championing new works and prioritizing underrepresented stories that connect with audiences and performers. The future of opera Opera in Seattle is promising and I’m thrilled to have a front row seat.”