Of Maria Kanyova’s performances as Madama Butterfly, the Denver Post raved, “Making her striking Central City debut in the demanding title role, soprano Maria Kanyova hardly could be more convincing with her appropriately youthful appearance and ability to convey the young wife’s innocence, vulnerability and pain. More important, she possesses a pure, forceful voice with a pleasing, soft edge – and she knows how to use it.” The American soprano has received equal praise for her portrayals of the leading heroines in Italian, French, German, Russian and Czech opera with companies throughout the United States.
Maria Kanyova has enjoyed a varied career encompassing a wide repertoire. Her signature role of Violetta in Verdi’s La traviata has been seen at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, New York City Opera, Portland Opera, and Utah Opera; Mimì in La bohème with New York City Opera (opposite Rolando Villazón and telecast on PBS), Houston Grand Opera, and Dallas Opera; Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly with the Lyric Opera of Chicago (conducted by Bruno Bartoletti), Madison Opera, and Central City Opera; Nedda in Pagliacci with Dallas Opera (conducted by Graeme Jenkins), and New York City Opera; Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and Glimmerglass Opera, as well as Donna Elvira with Los Angeles Opera (conducted by Hartmut Haenchen), and Opera Colorado; Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro with Opera Colorado, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis; Adina in L’elisir d’amore with Boston Lyric Opera, and Opera Colorado; Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel with Los Angeles Opera (conducted by Alan Gilbert), as well as Dew Fairy/Sandman with Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Boston Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Marek Janowski); Tatyana in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin with Boston Lyric Opera, Utah Opera and Opera Pacific; the title role in Puccini’s Suor Angelica with New York City Opera (conducted by George Manahan); Konstanze in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Opera Colorado; the title role in Janáček’s Jenůfa with Glimmerglass Opera (production by Sir Jonathan Miller); Oscar in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera with the Lyric Opera of Chicago; Blanche de la Force in Poulenc’s The Dialogues of the Carmelites with Glimmerglass Opera; and Corinna in Rossini’s Il Viaggio a Reims with New York City Opera.
A strong proponent for new opera, Maria Kanyova has created many new roles as well as reprising major American contemporary operas. As Pat Nixon in John Adams’ Nixon in China, Ms. Kanyova has traveled to the Canadian Opera Company (James Robinson’s production conducted by Pablo Heras-Casado), to Opera Colorado (conducted by Marin Alsop)—production recording released on the Naxos label in 2010—to Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Chicago Opera Theatre, and in concert with the Ravinia Festival (conducted by Marin Alsop) and Phoenix Symphony. Ms. Kanyova has also had the unique opportunity of being only the third person to perform the role of Marie Antoinette in John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, a role with which she made her European debut at the Wexford Festival, conducted by Michael Christie, and also at Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Other world premieres include the Wedding Planner in William Bolcom’s A Wedding at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, directed by the late Robert Altman and conducted by Dennis Russell Davies; Ella Burling in Tobias Picker’s Emmeline which premiered at the Santa Fe Opera and later telecast on PBS; as Annabelle in the first modern performances of John Philip Sousa’s The Glass Blowers with Glimmerglass Opera and Leya in Shulamit Ran’s Between Two Worlds with the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Center for America Artists.
Highlights of the current season include a role debut as Blanche Devereux in Andre Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire with Kentucky Opera, and Ms. Kanyova’s critically acclaimed portrayal of Pat Nixon in Michael Cavanagh’s production of Nixon in China with San Diego Opera.
Operatic highlights for recent seasons included a return to San Francisco Opera as Miriam in the world premiere of Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene and to the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel. Ms. Kanyova also appeared as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly with New Orleans Opera. During a busy 2011-2012 season, Maria Kanyova made company debuts with San Francisco Opera as Pat Nixon in Nixon in China, conducted by Lawrence Renes, as well as with Lyric Opera Kansas City in this same role. She also debuted with Tulsa Opera as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly, conducted by Kostis Protopapas, and returned to Madison Opera, first for the ‘Opera in the Park’ concerts and later as Tatyana in Eugene Onegin, conducted by John DeMain. Ms. Kanyova also returned to Portland Opera for the 2011-2012 season concert gala, conducted by George Manahan.
In concert, Maria Kanyova received special critical praise when she substituted for an ailing colleague with Music of the Baroque with only twenty-four hours notice, learning an obscure Scarlatti cantata overnight. She has also sung Rachmaninoff’s The Bells with the Charlotte Symphony as well as Mozart’s C minor Mass, the Brahms Requiem, Beethoven’s Mass in C, Britten’s War Requiem and Handel’s Messiah. She has appeared in opera arias and scenes with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Grant Park Music Festival and the Ravinia Festival.
Maria Kanyova has received awards from the Liederkranz Foundation, the National Federation of Music Clubs, the Greater Miami Opera Guild, and both the Betty Allen Prize and Richard F. Gold Career Grant for her achievements with New York City Opera. She is also the winner of a 2001 Richard Tucker Foundation Career Grant and a 2000 Sullivan Foundation Award. She currently resides in Chicago with her husband, son, and two daughters.