Melanie Henley Heyn, soprano
Hailed as a “young dramatic soprano to watch,” Melanie Henley Heyn is known for her rich voice and arresting performances.
This season, Melanie makes her American stage debut as Salome at Spoleto Festival USA with conductor Steven Sloane in a new production by Moshe Leiser & Patrice Caurier. This coincides with the release of her first album combining classic Wagner, Verdi and Puccini roles with modern American opera heroines. She will also return to the Soundings series in Dallas, Texas to perform the tour de force Sofia Gubaidulina cycle, Galgenlieder à 3, with percussionist Sam Um and bassist Lizzie Burns.
Last season, Melanie appeared with a who’s who of fantastic chamber musicians, including composer/clarinettist Jörg Widmann, violist Roger Tapping, violinist Anthony Marwood, and pianists Seth Knopp, Gilbert Kalish and Peter Frankl. She sang Caroline Shaw’s By & By for string quartet and voice at Yellow Barn in Putney, Vermont and joined the genre-bending Trio KlaViS on the Mosaïque Concert Series in Vienna, performing Schubert’s Der Hirt auf dem Felsen and Schulhoff’s Sonata Erotica.
In 2016-2017, Henley Heyn began a new collaboration with rising conductor Peter Valentovic as they took on the 11 diva roles of her first record, 33 divas / vol. 1, which remains the #1 Most Funded Solo Classical Artist Kickstarter project of all time. She later toured the Pacific Northwest, singing Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with the Philharmonia Northwest under the direction of Julia Tai, and being presented in recital as part of the RESONANCE Concert Series in Bellevue, Washington. Ms. Henley Heyn also performed Wagner’s Wesendonck-Lieder with pianist Seth Knopp at the National Sawdust in New York, as well as in the Nasher Sculpture Center, a concert which was later recognized as Dallas News’ 2016 Concert of the Year.
During the 2015-2016 season, Henley Heyn was honored with the Sorel Fellowship at SongFest, where she premiered the song cycle Radiant Depth Unfolded by cutting-edge experimentalist composer Anne LeBaron. While in Los Angeles, Henley Heyn appeared on James Conlon’s Recovered Voices series, singing the Prayer for the United Nations by émigré composer Erich Zeisl and Alexander Zemlinsky’s “Maiblumen blühten überall” for voice and string sextet. She also appeared in recital with pianist Martin Katz in a performance of Wagner’s Wesendonck-Lieder.
The 2014-2015 season began in Munich as Sieglinde and Isolde with sold out concert performances of excerpts from Wagner’s Die Walküre and the 2nd Act of Tristan und Isolde. Ms. Henley Heyn then began her successful Kickstarter campaign, raising funds for an orchestral recording of 11 diva roles and performing concerts in Vienna, Austria, Los Angeles, California and the singer’s hometown of Honesdale, Pennsylvania. In keeping with her dedication to arts activism, Ms. Henley Heyn met with Pennsylvania Senator Patrick Toomey to discuss the civic impact of the arts under the auspices of the Opera America Convention.
2013-2014 was a season of orchestral lieder, beginning with the 7 Frühe Lieder of Alban Berg at the Musikverein in Vienna, followed closely by first performances of Wagner’s Wesendonck-Lieder and Strauss’ Vier Letzte Lieder. Ms. Henley Heyn was also invited to sing recitals of Messiaen’s Poèmes pour Mi and Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder with pianist Chihiro Gordon at the Palais Meran in Graz, Austria and returned to Vienna for further performances of the Berg and Messiaen cycles.
In the 2012-2013 season, Ms. Henley Heyn appeared in Puccini’s Suor Angelica with the Regina Opera in Brooklyn, New York, where she was praised as an ideal Angelica, “whose radiant soprano shimmered with celestial light,” and whose “singing of ‘Senza mamma,’ with its long held pianissimo at the end, earned her an ovation.” She also returned to the Arnold Schönberg Center to sing a program of Alma Mahler and Arnold Schoenberg with pianist and frequent collaborator, Deirdre Brenner. The duo was later featured in an evening of early 20th Century composers at the Musiksammlung der Wienbibliothek in Vienna.
Highlights of the 2011-2012 season included her role debut as Madame Lidoine in Poulenc’s Dialogues des carmélites at the Theater Akzent in Vienna and a residency with the Steans Music Institute at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, where Ms. Henley Heyn performed Messiaen’s Poèmes pour Mi and John Corigliano’s Mr. Tambourine Man with pianist Natalia Katyukova. In addition, Ms. Henley Heyn and Ms. Brenner toured the East Coast with their program Vienna to Hollywood, a recital of Jewish composers who fled Europe on the eve of WWII.
Ms. Henley Heyn has been praised for her innate musicianship and her intuitive sense of style, ranging from Schubert and Mozart to Debussy and Messiaen. She has twice been invited to sing with the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela in Caracas, appearing as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte and as the Contessa in Le Nozze di Figaro. A champion of early 20th Century repertoire, Ms. Henley Heyn has performed Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire to general acclaim at the Musikverein in Vienna as well as his Gurrelieder at the Arnold Schönberg Center with pianist Walter Moore. Also a favorite of contemporary composers, Melanie has premiered pieces by Bear McCreary, Shannon Mack, Eva Conley Kendrick and Sharon Farber.
Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Melanie began singing at an early age. After early studies at the Manhattan School of Music Prep Division, she received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Southern California, appearing in numerous productions, including Poulenc’s Dialogues des carmélites as Mère Marie, Britten’s The Turn of the Screw as Miss Jessel, Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi as Nella and Robert Ward’s The Crucible as Ann Putnam. She then moved to Vienna to study triple Master’s Degrees at the Konservatorium Wien in Opera (Michael Pinkerton), Lied (Carolyn Hague) and Voice (Uta Schwabe). There, she appeared as the Contessa, Fiordiligi, Suor Angelica and the Female Chorus in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia.
Melanie Henley Heyn can also be heard on the soundtrack of the hit television series Battlestar Galactica.