Karen Slack, soprano

Karen Slack

A recipient of the 2022 Sphinx Medal of Excellence, celebrated American soprano Karen Slack has garnered international renown for her artistic versatility, charisma and entrepreneurial endeavors. She has received critical acclaim for her dynamic and passionate performances in both lead operatic roles and on the concert stage, and as a sought-after collaborator who is known as a leader and advocate, as a curator and artistic advisor, and for her ground-breaking approach to engagement.

Hailed for possessing a voice of extraordinary beauty, a seamless legato and great dramatic depth, Ms. Slack has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera and San Francisco Opera. In recent seasons, she has been seen as Alice Ford in Falstaff, Leonora in Il trovatore, and Tosca with Arizona Opera, as Aïda at Austin Opera, Emelda Griffith in Champion with New Orleans Opera, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Nashville Opera, Violetta in La Traviata with Sacramento Opera and Sister Rose in Dead Man Walking with Minnesota, Atlanta and Vancouver Opera and made her Scottish Opera debut as Anna in Puccini’s Le villi. Additionally, Ms. Slack portrayed a featured role as the Opera Diva in Tyler Perry’s movie and soundtrack “For Colored Girls.” Ms. Slack is an Artistic Advisor for Portland Opera, Co-Director for the 2020-21 Opera Program at the Banff Centre for the Performing Arts, Co-Chair of the Women's Opera Network with Opera America, and serves on the board of the American Composer’s Orchestra. In January 2022, Ms. Slack will take on the role of Creative Partner with National Sawdust opening with a solo recital and continuing through multiple programs in the upcoming season.

Ms. Slack’s 2019-2020 season included a return to The Metropolitan Opera as Serena in Porgy and Bess, her debut with Opera Theatre of St. Louis as Billie in Terence Blanchard and Kasi Lemmons' Fire Shut Up in My Bones, a recital with Opera Philadelphia, guest soloist for Madison Opera’s virtual Opera in the Park, and a series of recitals throughout the US including the Vilar Center for the Performing Arts in Vail, Colorado with pianist Joe Illick. In concert, she was a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra in the world premiere of Hannibal Lokumbe’s Healing Tones with conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Union Symphony Orchestra for Wagner’s Wesendonk Lieder.

During the 2020-2021 season, Ms. Slack drew on her experience in film to expand her artistic platform through premiere digital performances with Houston Grand Opera, Madison Opera, and Minnesota Opera, taking on a starring role in Driving While Black with urbanarias and launching her digital talk show, #kikikonversations, which garnered critical acclaim from both Opera News and The New York Times. Additionally, Ms. Slack became a sought-after collaborator to create bespoke content for the digital concert stage.  She co-created and performed in  #saytheirnames – Women of the Movement, a film recital and production in partnership with lyricfest, performed in recital for Opera Philadelphia, and was the featured vocalist alongside actor/narrator Liev Schreiber in Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s “Speaking Truth to Power” program, presented in October 2020 and hosted by livestream platform Idagio.com.

Equally at home on the concert stage, Ms. Slack has performed Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, Strauss’ Vier Letzte Lieder and the Verdi Requiem with various orchestras throughout the US, and was featured in her first performances of Chausson’s Poème de l’amour et la mer with the Omaha Symphony in collaboration with Opera Omaha. Abroad she has appeared with the Melbourne Symphony, Sydney Symphony, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestras, and most recently, with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic in celebration of the 80th birthday of Mo. Yuri Temirkanov. She made her Carnegie Hall debut as Agnes Sorel in Tchaikovsky’s Maid of Orleans with Orchestra of St. Luke’s and will return with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra for Beethoven’s Egmont.

During the 2021-2022 season, Ms. Slack makes her stage debut with the Houston Grand Opera in the world premiere of Joel Thompson and Andrea Davis Pinkney's A Snowy Day and performs the title role in Verdi’s AIDA with Opera Carolina, and on the concert stage she will be featured in recital with organist Alan Morrison at Atlanta’s Spivey Hall, Verdi’s Requiem with the Highlander Concert Series at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasilerias No. 5 with Symphony of the Americas, Derek Geter’s Justice Symphony with The Washington Chorus and  in May 2022, will perform the World Premiere of a new work by James Lee III, written for her collaboration with the Pacifica Quartet and presented by Carnegie Hall and the Shriver Hall Concert Series.

A graduate of the Adler Fellowship and Merola Opera Program at the San Francisco Opera, the native Philadelphian is also a graduate of the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music. She is a winner of numerous competitions and awards: most notably the Montserrat Caballe International Competition, Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, George London Foundation Award, Marian Anderson ICON Award, Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation, Rosa Ponselle International Vocal Competition, Portland Opera Lieber Award, Liederkranz Foundation Award and the Jose Iturbi International Competition for Voice.