Emma McNairy

Emma McNairy


...the sexiest and most vocally agile Lulu imaginable. -San Francisco Classical Voice
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«In voice, figure, and deportment, it is difficult to image wanting more from a Lulu than what soprano Emma McNairy presented in her role debut. Possessing a voice of unexpected range, power, and endurance for so young an artist, not to mention a pure silvery tone from bottom to ringing top, McNairy's portrayal moved from strength to strength throughout the performance, communicating the character's accumulation of experience with fearless poise. Her decline after serving time in prison for murdering Dr. Schön was pitiful and sympathetic. The clarity of her diction and powerful emission filled the room with ease and she dominated each scene until Lulu's luck finally runs out at the hands of Jack the Ripper.»
Opera news (2016)
«In the title role, Emma McNairy combined physical allure, arching, silvery soprano and superior German.​»
The Financial times (2016)
«The challenges of this assignment are legion. As the embodiment of sexual enchantment, of fundamental and amoral urges, Lulu is the object of everyone else’s desire without existing as a character in her own right. Yet Berg gives her the opera’s most ardent and expressive vocal writing, a demanding and extended stream of melody that is at once angular, forceful and glitteringly alluring. It falls to the soprano to bridge that gap — to uncover the gleaming sensuality that lies just below the surface of Berg’s twelve-tone musical language — and McNairy did that flawlessly. She caressed and cajoled the notes until they shimmered; she unleashed potent, high-flying bursts of fine-tuned melody, then dropped into conversational stretches of pointed eloquence. And in a superb bit of theatrical jujitsu, McNairy took the physical degradations of the assignment and turned them back onto the world. Director Elkhanah Pulitzer was merciless in what she required of McNairy, from complete onstage nudity to extravagantly detailed simulations of sex, and from each one McNairy emerged even more dignified and assured.»
San francisco chronicle (2016)
2019Abraham: Ball Im SavoyMadeleine De Faublas
2019Bernstein: A Quiet PlaceDede
2019Massenet: WertherLe Bailli
2018Massenet: WertherSophie
2018Rossini: Il Barbiere Di SivigliaRosina
2018Bernstein: Mass, A Theatre Piece For Singers, Players And DancersStreet Singers
2017Thomas: HamletOphélie
2017Handel: AriodanteDalinda
2017Schreker: Der Ferne KlangMary
2017Monteverdi: Il Combattimento Di Tancredi e ClorindaClorinda
2017Orff: Carmina BuranaSoprano
2017Rossini: Il Viaggio a ReimsContessa Di Folleville
2017Bernstein: Mass, A Theatre Piece For Singers, Players And DancersStreet Singers
2016Adès: Powder Her FaceMaid / Confidante / Waitress / Mistress / Rubbernecker / Society journalist
2016Strauss R.: Ariadne auf NaxosZerbinetta
2016Puccini: ToscaUn pastore
2016Rossini: L'Italiana in AlgeriElvira
2015Berg: Lulu (1935)Lulu
2015Donizetti: Lucia di LammermoorLucia Di Lammermoor
2014Bizet: CarmenFrasquita
2014Rossini: La CenerentolaClorinda
2013Monteverdi: L'incoronazione di PoppeaLa Fortuna / Poppea
2013Menotti: The Old Maid and the ThiefLaetitia
2013Mozart: Die ZauberflötePapagena
2011Handel: AlcinaMorgana
2011Poulenc: Dialogues des CarmélitesSœur Constance de Saint-Denis
2010Cavalli: La CalistoCalisto
2008Mozart: Cosi fan tutteDespina
2008Sullivan: The MikadoYum-Yum
2008Cavalli: EgistoBelezza


American soprano Emma McNairy, critically acclaimed for her performance as the title role in Berg's Lulu with West Edge Opera, was praised by San Francisco Classical Voice as being the “sexiest and most vocally agile Lulu imaginable”, while The Financial Times lauded her for having "combined physical allure, arching, silvery soprano and superior German." For her portrayal of Lulu, she was nominated alongside Susan Graham for "Best Opera Performer" of San Francisco's 2014-2015 season by San Francisco Classical Voice's, "Best of the Bay" contest.

In July 2018, Ms. McNairy made her Lincoln Center debut with the Mostly Mozart Festival in Bernstein's Mass under the baton of Louis Langrée in David Geffin Hall. She opened the 2018/2019 season at Theater Lübeck in the leading role of Madeleine de Faublas in Paul Abraham's operetta, Ball im Savoy, where she also sings Sophie in Werther, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, and Dede in Bernstein's A Quiet Place. A member of the ensemble at Theater Lübeck since the 2016/2017 season, Ms. McNairy has appeared as the soprano soloist in a staged version of Carmina Burana, Clorinda (Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda), Mary (Der Ferne Klang), Dalinda(Ariodante), Rosina (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Zerbinetta (Ariadne auf Naxos), Contessa di Folleville (Il Viaggio a Reims), the Shepherd (Tosca),​ and a soloist in Bernstein's Mass. Guest appearances include Zerbinetta at Stadttheater Gießen, Contessa di Folleville at Oper Kiel, and covering Clorinda (La Cenerentola) at Volkstheater Rostock. She made her debut in Hamburg's Laeiszhalle singing Carmina Burana with the Philharmonisches Orchester der Hansestadt Lübeck last May. In 2017, Ms. McNairy had the unique opportunity to make a cameo appearance singing Nena's '99 Luftballons' in the series finale of the original Netflix show, Sense8, directed by Lana Wachowski.

Ms. McNairy has enjoyed collaborating with Cantata Profana Ensemble at Symphony Space in New York City, where she sang repertoire including Webern's 3 Lieder für Sopran, Klarinette und Gitarre, Op.18, and Monteverdi's Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda in 2016. The same season she appeared as Elvira (L'italiana in Algeri) withLivermore Valley Opera, and in Carmina Burana with the San Jose Symphonic Choir in California. In West Edge Opera's 2016 summer festival she garnered great success as the Maid in Thomas Adès's Powder Her Face. She returned to West Edge Opera in 2017 as a "beguiling Ophélie" in Hamlet, praised for the "beauty and elegance" of her singing and for having a "radiant instrument with a secure high extension." Her mad scene was noted as "...mesmerizing, sung with a fine mixture of poignancy and abandon." (Opera News)

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CV & Repertoire

Musical Work Role Jump-in ready? Company Year
Abraham: Ball Im Savoy Madeleine De Faublas Immediately Theater Lübeck 2019
Bernstein: A Quiet Place Dede 1 week Theater Lübeck 2019
Massenet: Werther Le Bailli Theater Lübeck 2019
Massenet: Werther Sophie Immediately Theater Lübeck 2018
Rossini: Il Barbiere Di Siviglia Rosina Immediately Theater Lübeck 2018


2. Preis- 7. Internationaler Lions Gesangswettbewerb des Opernfestivals Gut Immling
2nd place- James Toland Vocal Arts competition- tier 1
1st place- Dorothy Van waynen Voice competition
3rd place- Franco-american vocal academy grand concours de chant
2nd place- east bay opera league scholarship competition
3rd place- henry and maria holt scholarship competition
winner- san francisco conservatory of music concerto competition
1st place- burlingame music club competition
finalist- brava opera competition