Russian-born mezzo-soprano Irina Mishura has established herself as one of the most important dramatic mezzo-sopranos singing today. A recent performance of Bizet's Carmen led one critic to write, "Irina Mishura's Carmen absolutely floored the audience. Hers is a big sultry voice, evenly produced throughout its range, particularly solid in its lower register, but easily floated on top. Her Carmen is truly voluptuous, with restrained, smoldering intensity." After a recent gala event at the opening of the new Detroit Opera House, the Detroit News singled out Mishura's "gripping 'O don fatale' from Verdi's Don Carlo" as "the performance that likely will endure as the most memorable of the night. Mishura displayed not just the vocal prowess but also the intelligence that distinguishes great singers."
Irina Mishura is well-known to audiences throughout North America and Europe. She made an auspicious debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 2000 when she appeared as Dalila in Samson et Dalila opposite Placido Domingo. Further performances that season with the MET included performances of the title role in Carmen and as Azucena in a new production of Il trovatore, as well as Dalila and Maddalena in Rigoletto on the company's tour to Japan. She has returned to the Metropolitan Opera every season and has added the roles of Princess Eboli in Don Carlo, Marina in Boris Godunov, Amneris, Frederica in Luisa Miller, La Cieca in La Gioconda and Madelon in Andrea Chenier to her MET repertoire. The role of Azucena was the vehicle for Ms. Mishura's debut with The Washington Opera, under the baton of Placido Domingo, and she returned for performances as Adalgisa and for a role debut as Klytaemnestra in Strauss' Elektra in 2008. She made her debut with Los Angeles Opera in performances as Amneris, a role she also performed with Cincinnati Opera and Michigan Opera Theatre. San Francisco Opera audiences saw her in performances of Adalgisa and the title role in Carmen, a role she repeated with Florida Grand Opera. The mezzo-soprano first appeared with Dallas Opera as Amneris and soon returned for her first performances as Fricka in Die Walkure, opposite James Morris. Audiences in Toronto first saw Irina Mishura as Azucena with the Canadian Opera Company, for which she won the 1999 Dora Mavor Moore award for Toronto's best actress in a musical performance, and she returned to Toronto to reprise the role in 2005. In 2009 Canadian Opera played host to a new role debut as Jezibaba in Dvorak's Rusalka. Irina Mishura has appeared with Michigan Opera Theatre for most of her leading roles, including Amneris, Carmen and Dalila.
Irina Mishura's debut with the Vienna Staatsoper was in the title role in Carmen, and her success there led to her re-engagement in several roles including performances as Amneris and further performances as Carmen. Her debuts with Teatro alla Scala and the Bayerische Staatsoper were also in the role of Carmen, and she has returned to Munich to reprise her portrayal of Bizet's gypsy and to appear as Amneris. The role of Amneris was also the vehicle for her debuts with the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin and Deutsche Oper Berlin. Ms. Mishura first appeared with Royal Opera, Covent Garden in performances as Azucena, and her debut with Teatro Real Madrid and Opernhaus Zurich was in this same role. Irina Mishura first appeared with Grand Theatre de Genève as Princess Eboli in a new production of Don Carlo, and she repeated this role in a new production for her debut with the Cologne Opera. She later returned to Cologne Opera for her first performances as Santuzza in Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana. Audiences in Italy first saw Irina Mishura when she appeared as Principessa de Bouillon in Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur in Trieste, and she soon returned for performances as Azucena. Her debut at the Arena di Verona was as Carmen, and she returned the following season to reprise this portrayal as well as for performances as Amneris. The role of Carmen was the vehicle of her debut with the Finnish National Opera, and her first performances at the Teatro San Carlo in Lisbon were as Amneris. She appeared as Dalila in her debut with the New Israeli Opera. She recently gave her debut with Opera Monte Carlo as Santuzza.
In concert, the mezzo-soprano appeared with the San Francisco Symphony in performances of Stravinsky's Pulcinella and the New World Symphony in performances of Shostakovich's Songs from Jewish Folk Poetry, both led by Michael Tilson Thomas. Prokofiev's Alexandre Nevsky was the vehicle for Irina Mishura's debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and she has appeared with Teatro Comunale di Firenze and Genova's Teatro Carlo Felice in this same work. She made her debut at Bologna's Teatro Comunale in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony conducted by Daniele Gatti, and she appeared with the Jerusalem Symphony in a program of arias and duets from Verdi's operas. Irina Mishura appeared with the Madison Symphony for performances of Verdi's Messa di Requiem.
Irina Mishura immigrated to the United States in 1992 and was soon engaged by Neeme Jarvi to sing Tchaikovsky's The Snow Maiden in performances with the Detroit Symphony and for a recording on Chandos Records. Her debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic soon followed with this same work under the direction of Valery Gergiev. An acclaimed recitalist, Irina Mishura has concertized extensively in Russia and North America, specializing in the song repertoire of the Russian masters. Her recording of Russian songs with her long-time collaborator, pianist Valery Ryvkin, was released by VAI Records.
Born in Krasnodar, Ms. Mishura completed her musical studies at the prestigious Gnesinikh Music Institute, where she earned a doctorate in vocal arts. Her earliest performances on the operatic stage were with the Moldavian State Opera, where she rose to the position of prima mezzo-soprano, singing Carmen, Amneris, Azucena, Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera, and Eboli, plus the core of the Russian repertoire - Marina in Boris Godunov, Marfa in Khovanshchina, Pauline in Pique Dame, Olga in Eugene Onegin, and Lyubasha in The Tsar's Bride.
Recent performances include Herodias in Strauss' Salome at the San Francisco Opera, at the Teatro Real Madrid, Maggio Musicale in Florence, and in London at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden - followed at ROH in a new production of Il Trittico at ROH. Also, Ms. Mishura reprised of one of her signature roles, Azucena in Il Trovatore in Barcelona and New Orleans and in her Teatro Regio debut in Parma, Italy. Upcoming engagements include Salome in San Diego, Dialogues of the Carmelites in Toronto, Rusalka in Naples, and several concerts.
Opera Carolina Performances: