Melissa Fogarty - Biography

Missy outside wearing red blouseHailed by The New York Times for her “delirious abandon” on stage, versatile soprano MELISSA FOGARTY’s wide-ranging experience has lead her to appear at diverse venues ranging from New York City Opera to popular clubs such as Le Poisson Rouge and City Winery. Ms. Fogarty has impressed the public and critics alike in a variety of contemporary opera ventures.  She has been featured in VOX, New York City Opera’s annual showcase of new American operas.  In 2008, Dice Thrown, the virtuosic one-woman "aleatoric soundscape" by John King was the sleeper hit of that year. As described by the New York Observer “the piece became a dazzling coloratura solo of compelling dramatic urgency in a performance by the stunningly accurate soprano Melissa Fogarty.”  Her VOX appearances have also included roles in new operas by David Bruce, Chandler Carter, Sorrel Hayes, Ted Hearne, Marc Lowenstein, and Tom Schnauber. She has also portrayed Dorothy in Chandler Carter’s Strange Fruit (Harlem School for the Arts, in association with NYCO) and Patience in scenes from Patience and Sarah (Musique à la mode, New York), and has appeared in scenes presented by American Opera Projects and American Lyric Theater.


A favorite of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Del Tredici, Ms. Fogarty has given world premieres of several of his works, including the demanding song cycle A Field Manual, written especially for her, baritone Chris Pedro Trakas, and the Fireworks Ensemble. Ms. Fogarty figured prominently Mr. Del Tredici’s 70th birthday celebrations in 2007.  She performed his dazzling song cycle Miz Inez Sez at Sarah Lawrence College, his flamboyant monodrama Dracula at Brooklyn Conservatory, and his Grammy Award-nominated Paul Revere's Ride with the Canticum Novum Singers.  Sought after by numerous other composers and new music groups, Ms. Fogarty has also performed the world premieres of Vessel by Kati Agócs with the Metropolis Ensemble at Symphony Space, Christopher James’s Five Sappho Fragments, for soprano and chamber orchestra with the esteemed new music ensemble North/South Consonance, conducted by Max Lifchitz . She also performed The New Math(s) by Louis Andriessen with the highly regarded ensemble Sequitur at Merkin Concert Hall.


While making the rounds in New York performing Del Tredici’s music, Ms. Fogarty met pianist Marc Peloquin, also known for his interpretations of the composer’s music. Their mutual desire to collaborate resulted in a concert at Bargemusic in July 2010, entitled “Barber at the Barge,” commemorating the centennial of Samuel Barber in song and piano music. Fogarty “sang with focused flair that disarmed..." (5 star rating. –Financial Times).  From that experience along with a strong connection to the songs of Barber that stretch back to her days as a student at the Eastman School of Music and a sense that these songs are no longer being widely performed, Ms. Fogarty sought to have them recorded. The result, “Despite and Still” is a compilation of some of Barber’s most beloved songs (Hermit Songs; Sure on this shining night) to gems written while Barber’s personal and professional life was at an all-time low (Despite and Still; Three Songs, Op. 45) recorded at the Concert Hall at Drew University, a hall recognized for its world-class design and acoustics and engineered by David Walters (BMG, EMI Reference, Chandos).


Ms. Fogarty is also known for her lively and elegant interpretations of Baroque and Classical-period music. She made an auspicious debut at NYCO in 2008 debut in the leading role of Soprano I (Cupid/Venus/Honor) in Mark Morris’s production of Purcell’s King Arthur, conducted by Jane Glover. As Serpina in Pergolesi’s La serva padrona with the Seattle Baroque Orchestra at Benaroya Hall, she was cited by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for her “bright attractive soprano and ample technique.”  Her many credits in this repertoire include Second Woman in Dido and Aeneas at The Yard (Martha’s Vineyard, 2009), Ottavia in Monteverdi’s Incoronazione di Poppea with Opera Omnia at Le Poisson Rouge (2008), Clorinda in Monteverdi’s Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda with New York’s Metropolis Ensemble (2006); La Poésie in Charpentier’s Les Arts florissants with Concert Royal in New York and Dallas (2002), Oberto in Handel’s Alcina with New York’s Vertical Player Repertory company (2001, 2002), the Israelitish Woman in Handel’s Judas Maccabeus and soprano soloist in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with the St. Paul’s Chamber Orchestra at Columbia University (2000); and other roles with New York Collegium, Teatro Bacchino in San Francisco, the Berkeley Early Music Festival, and the Yale Center for British Arts.


In 2006, Ms. Fogarty was honored with an Outmusic Award for “Best Solo Debut – Female” for her album Handel: Scorned and Betrayed (Albany Records).  The distinguished singer/musicologist Julianne Baird commented, “Melissa Fogarty’s depiction of these strong-willed, decisive women of history is red-blooded, exciting, and passionate.  She brings to bear an exquisite sense of style for this repertoire.”  Ms. Fogarty’s other recordings include Scarlatti’s Agar et Ismaele esiliati with the Seattle Baroque Orchestra (Centaur Records) and Forbidden Dance with Ensemble for the Seicento, an album of 17th-century music in which she both sings and plays the baroque guitar (Musicians Showcase).


Ms. Fogarty’s performing career began with appearances as child soloist at the Metropolitan Opera (including the Shepherd in Tosca in a telecast with Placido Domingo and Hildegard Behrens), New York City Opera (the major role of Marcantonio in the New York premiere of Dominick Argento’s Casanova’s Homecoming), and Sarasota Opera (Flora in Britten’s Turn of the Screw).  She received a Bachelor of Music Degree in Applied Voice from the Eastman School of Music. Ms. Fogarty has earned awards including the Anna Sosenko Assist Trust, the Adams Fellowship at the Carmel Bach Festival and the Giorgio Cini Foundation Fellowship for study in Venice.  She was a finalist in the 2008 vocal competition sponsored by Classical Singer magazine. That year, she became the lead singer of Metropolitan Klezmer & Isle of Klezbos, and has since been performing Yiddish ballads and exploring an innate talent for scat-singing in their swing repertoire. Plans are in the works to form her own jazz combo with alto saxophonist Debra Kreisberg (Metropolitan Klezmer, Los Mas Valientes). The Forward’s blog, The Arty Semite, praised Fogarty in a July 2011 performance, calling her “a formidable presence”, citing her scat-singing as “particularly impressive.”


Last update December 1, 2011