Athlone Artists is pleased to announce the addition of mezzo-soprano Stephanie Sanchez to its roster of artists. Praised by Opera News for her “polished, Italianate mezzo,” and by ReviewSTL for her “exquisite singing,” Stephanie’s upcoming engagements include performances as Third Lady in The Magic Flute with Opera Theatre of St. Louis in May-June 2022 and the Mother in Mark-Anthony Turnage and Rory Mullarkey’s Coraline with West Edge Opera in August 2022. Earlier this season, she performed the role of Mercedes and covered the title role in Carmen at Opera San José.
At the 2021 Glimmerglass Festival, Stephanie sang the role of Ines and covered Azucena in Francesca Zambello’s 90-minute adaptation of Il Trovatore and was a featured artist in an all-Wagner concert conducted by Maestro Joseph Colaneri. That same fall, she joined the roster of the Lyric Opera of Chicago where she covered Second Lady in Barrie Kosky’s acclaimed production of Die Zaüberflote and made her house debut with Austin Opera in a solo recital highlighting works by Mexican and LatinX composers. She won the “Audience Choice Award” at the 2021 Jensen Foundation competition.
Stephanie was born and raised into a musical family in Las Cruces, New Mexico, but never considered a career in music before college. “I took an unconventional path,” she says. “When I got to college I decided to major in biology and biochemistry, because I thought I wanted to be a doctor.” She enjoyed her studies, but always made sure to keep music in her life, singing in her undergraduate chorus. “Then one semester,” she continues, “I couldn’t take choir because I had to take a physics class. And as I had less and less time for music, I realized that I needed it to be part of my life.”
As Stephanie finished her degree and began studying for the MCAT, her school – New Mexico State – was revamping the degree program in opera. Part of this included hiring a full-time opera studies director – tenor Andrew Zimmerman. Dr. Jerry Ann Alt, the school’s choral director with whom Stephanie maintained a long-standing relationship, suggested she try a lesson with him. “That was the turning point for me,” says Stephanie. When in high school, Stephanie sang jazz, musical theater, and even major choral works, like Mozart’s Requiem. But it was Zimmerman who introduced the budding mezzo-soprano to opera, suggesting she go see a production of L’Elisir d’Amore. “I thought, ‘wow, this art encompasses everything – it’s on such a grand scale!’ It was like nothing else I’d ever seen.”
Zimmerman and Alt continued to encourage Stephanie, telling her, “You have the chops to be a professional opera singer, if that is what you want.” After completing her master’s degree in music, Stephanie began auditioning for young artist programs and was offered a place in the Gerdine Young Artist and Gaddes Festival Artist programs at Opera Theatre of St. Louis during their 2014-16 seasons. More auditions came, and she was accepted as an Artist Diploma candidate at Rice University.
“That is where I learned what it takes to be an opera singer,” she says. “I’m so grateful for that experience because it refined my talent and really shaped who I am now.”
Stephanie continues to refine that talent, and her hard work has paid off. She was the recipient of the 2018 Igor Gorin Memorial Award, took first place in the Young Texas Artist Music Competition and second place in Opera Connecticut’s Opera Idol Competition, was a finalist in the Brava Opera Theater Competition, and has received grants from the Anna Sosenko Assist Trust and the Hispanic Scholarship Association.
As a resident principal artist with Opera San José, she performed the roles of Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, Hansel in Hansel and Gretel, Azucenain Il Trovatore, and was set to perform Dritte Dame in Die Zauberflöte before the pandemic shutdown. She was selected as a Marion Pullin Studio Artist with Arizona Opera where she sang the roles of Persephone in Hercules vs. Vampires, Paquette in Candide, Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and Flosshilde in Das Rheingold, and returned to the company to cover the title role in Maria de Buenos Aires and sing Baroness Nica in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird. Other notable engagements include Gertrude in Hansel and Gretel with Brava Opera Theater, Olga in Eugene Onegin with Intermountain Opera, Flora in La Traviata with St. Petersburg Opera, Roggiero in Tancredi at Teatro Nuovo, Yesi in Stomping Grounds at The Glimmerglass Festival, Isabella (cover) in L’italiana in Algeri and Mère Marie (cover) in Dialogues des Carmelites at Sarasota Opera, Zita in Gianni Schicchi at Opera Maine, and Abuela in En mis palabras at Atlanta Opera.
During the fall of 2020, Stephanie returned to Opera Theatre Saint Louis as a Digital Studio Artist, where she was cited for her “impressive combination of vocal power and comic flair” (KDHX) in the role of Ruth in Pirates of Penzance and for her “moving” and “heartfelt” (KDHX) solos in their holiday concert.
Stephanie has cherished the years of study needed to finally come into her own. “Recently I started to venture into the bigger rep under the guidance of my current teacher, Braeden Harris. When I got to sing Azucena a year ago that was my ‘aha!’ moment. It was the first time I got to dip my toe into that repertoire, and it was thrilling! While it may be a few more years before I sing my first Eboli (Don Carlos), I’ll gladly take a Carmen, Charlotte (Werther), or ANY Valkyrie while I wait.”
Stephanie looks forward to a future filled with this kind of repertoire and is glad to have found the “charismatic and easy-to-talk-to” Miguel Rodriguez of Athlone Artists as her agent.
As she gears up for the summer season, Stephanie manages to fit into her schedule planning a wedding to fellow singer, bass-baritone Peter Morgan, with whom she has shared the stage on several occasions. She finds mental rejuvenation through hiking – the two took over fifty treks during the pandemic alone. And she cooks her favorite comfort food – her mom’s recipe for red chile posole – to feel like she’s always at home in New Mexico – even as she continues to enjoy her life on the road.