Bio: Often referred to as “sultry,” “elegant,” and “compelling, mezzo-soprano Janara Kellerman is quickly making a name for herself among opera lovers and critics alike. Hailed by Opera News for her “keen dramatic instincts” and “voluptuous tone,” Ms. Kellerman is delighting audiences throughout the world.
This season Ms. Kellerman joined an all-star cast in an October Gala for New Amsterdam Opera and returned to Cedar Rapids Opera as Mamma Lucia in Cavalleria Rusticana. She made her debut with Opera Delaware in their Inside the Opera Studio/Ladies Night Concert Series, with New Amsterdam Opera in March she debuted the role of Preziosilla in La Forza del Destino, a return engagement with Mineola Choral Society as the alto soloist in Mendellsohn’s Elijah and this past summer she joined Union Avenue Opera in their production of Albert Herring alongside the great American Soprano, Christine Brewer as Lady Billows. Of her performance critics raved "Janara Kellerman as his overbearing mother had a voice and swagger even bigger than Brewer's which made Albert's submission to her thumb totally understandable" - St. Louis Today "Also appearing are Janara Kellerman whose formidable Mezzo-soprano dominates Britten's score as powerfully as Lady Billows rules over the denizens of Loxford" -ladue news.
This season Ms. Kellerman joins Orchestra Iowa as the Alto Soloist in Beethoven's 9th Symphony, returns to New Amsterdam Opera as part of their "Come into the Leit" all Wagner concert in which she will perform the great Elsa/Ortrud duet from Act II of Lohengrin and Brangäne's Warning from Tristan und Isolde. In the Spring she will join the National Chorale as the Alto Soloist in Beethoven's 9th Symphony and Vaughn Williams' Serenade to Music at Lincoln Center.
Most recent performances include concert performances in New York City as the Alto Soloist in Durufle' Requiem, Bach’s B Minor Mass and Mendellsohn's Magnificat. She made her role début as Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana with Musica Viva Hong Kong; Mrs. Peachum in The Threepenny Opera with Indianapolis Opera; Dido in Dido and Aeneas with MidAtlantic Opera; the Old Lady in Candide with Fresno Grand Opera; and Little Buttercup in HMS Pinafore with Opera Saratoga and Lyric Opera San Antonio. She also made her Carnegie Hall début as the mezzo-soprano soloist in the New York première of Stephen Paulus’ To Be Certain of the Dawn; and sang the alto soloist in Verdi’s Requiem with New Jersey Symphony and Mississippi Orchestra. In 2015 the New Jersey Symphony released the recording of the Verdi Requiem performance under the baton of Maestro Jacques LaCombe and joined by soloists, Marianne Fiset, Russell Thomas and Peter Volpe.
Ms. Kellerman is gaining critical attention for her portrayal of the title role in Carmen after making her role début with Des Moines Metro Opera. “When Janara Kellerman struts on stage and launches into the famous Habanera’s slinky chromatic descent, it’s easy to forget everyone else. Her voice is simultaneously agile and strong… With her thick black hair, smoldering gaze and brazen swagger, Kellerman casts a spell more potent than any cloud of smoke. She deftly combines her character’s dramatic sense of abandon with the score’s demand for vocal control.” (Des Moines Register)
On the concert stage, Ms. Kellerman reunited with Robert Aldridge and the Topeka Symphony Orchestra for a world première as the alto soloist in his grand oratorio, Parables, and was later engaged for repeat performances. Other notable concert performances have included the alto solo in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in her Avery Fisher Hall début; Azucena in Il Trovatore in concert with the Westfield Symphony; soloist in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with Dubuque Symphony Orchestra; a return to Iowa for a concert of Schumann works; and the soloist in a concert with the Continuo Arts Foundation.
She has also performed the alto solos in Händel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s Mass in C Minor, Bach’s St. John’s Passion, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solenelle, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Mozart’s Requiem.
Prior engagements include a gala performance of excerpts from L’italiana in Algeri and Samson et Dalila with the New Jersey State Opera featuring Samuel Ramey and Paul Plishka; Amneris in Aïda and Fenena in Nabucco with New Jersey State Opera; and a return to New York City Opera for their production of Antony and Cleopatra and as the cover Carmen and Malcolm in Rossini’s La Donna del Lago. Ms. Kellerman also worked with Grammy-winning composer Robert Aldridge when she stepped in at the last minute as Sharon Falconer in his opera Elmer Gantry.
Roles in Ms. Kellerman’s repertoire also include Charlotte in Werther, Maddalena in Rigoletto, Adalgisa in Norma, and Eboli in Don Carlos, Madame Flora (Baba) in The Medium . In addition, she is particularly noted for her comedic portrayals, such as Baba the Turk in The Rake’s Progress, Katisha in The Mikado, and Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd.
Ms. Kellerman completed her first recording with the Michael O’Neal Singers in Atlanta as the alto soloist in Honegger’s King David to which the Atlanta Journal said “all the soloists were very good, especially Janara Kellerman – a creamy, rich mezzo.
She is the recipient of the Richard F. Gold Career Grand from the Shoshana Foundation and a winner in the Koussevitzky and Liederkranz Competition, as well as, a finalist in the Jensen and YPO/FGO Competition and a semi-finalist in the 2015 Joy in Singing Competition.
Mrs. Herring/Albert Herring - Union Avenue Opera
Alto Soloist/Beethoven 9/Opera Arias - Orchestra Iowa
"Come into the Leit" - Elsa/Ortrud Act II duet, Brangäne's Warning
New Amsterdam Opera, November 12, 2017
Alto Soloist/Beethoven 9/Serenade to Music
The National Chorale, David Geffen Hall
Kellerman consistently displayed poise and gave an expressive and ultimately chilling account of the “Liber Scriptus,” describing the book in which the world is judged. - Star Ledger (with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra)
Mrs. Herring in Albert Herring
"Janara Kellerman as his overbearing mother had a voice and swagger even bigger than Brewer's which made Albert's submission to her thumb totally understandable" - St. Louis Today
"Also appearing are Janara Kellerman whose formidable Mezzo-soprano dominates Britten's score as powerfully as Lady Billows rules over the denizens of Loxford" -ladue news
Dido in Dido and Aeneas
Of the cast, Janara Kellerman’s Dido emerged as strongest, with an agile, plangent mezzo-soprano. She gave a dynamic, polished and impassioned rendition of "Dido’s Lament" (or "When I am Laid in Earth"), the work’s best-known selection. - Star Ledger
Azucena in Il Trovatore
The most mysterious character in the drama is the gypsy woman Azucena,whose life has two foci – the love for her supposed son Manrico and the avenging of her mother’s execution by the Count’s father. She was sung with burning intensity by mezzo-soprano Ms. Kellerman, who imparted just the right amount of crazed vengeance to the chilling final scene. - The Westfield Leader
Amneris in Aida
“But the show really belonged to Janara Kellerman as the jealous, amorous Amneris. Her rich, velvety mezzo voice wrapped itself around every emotion, from anger to charm to pity. She clearly was the finest actor on stage as well, compelling in every scene.”
Cedar Rapids Gazette
"These three principals ooze chemistry in their physicality and splendor in their vocal instruments. Kellerman is every inch the manipulative wench with a seductive richness to her sound, whether singing the instantly-recognizable "Habanera" ("Love obeys no laws") to a heart-crushing duet with Don Jose as he crumples over the flower she tossed to him that fueled his passion while they were apart". - Cedar Rapids Gazette (Production with Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre)
“DMMO has been quietly nurturing Janara Kellerman in previous seasons, her pungent mezzo and keen dramatic instincts gracing such roles as Antonia’s mother in Hoffman and Rigoletto’s sultry Maddalena. Toss in her considerable dark beauty, and a try at Carmen seemed inevitable; the current season saw her take on Bizet’s Gypsy, in an impressively nuanced role debut. The habanera was voluptuous of tone, and Kellerman’s intelligently shaded Seguidilla purred erotically. Carmen is one of opera’s iconcic characters, of course, and Kellerman is a developing artist, but this was a highly promising assumption
that will bear watching closely in seasons to come.” - Opera News
“When Janara Kellerman struts on stage and launches into the famous habanera’s slinky chromatic descent, it’s easy to forget everyone else. Her voice is simultaneously agile and strong, like a big game cat that prowls through the underbrush pouncing on its prey. With her thick black hair, smoldering gaze and brazen swagger, Kellerman casts a spell more potent than a cloud of smoke. She deftly combines her character’s dramatic sense of abandon with the score’s demand for vocal control.”
Des Moines Register