Adriana Zabala

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School of Music
256 Ferguson Hall
2106 4th St So


Associate Professor: Voice, Chair of Voice Division

Recent Student Accomplishments:

  • Patrick Terry, BM: Master's student at The Royal Academy of Music, London
  • Laura Hynes, DMA: Assistant Professor of Voice, Murray State University
  • Christine Killian, MM: Mill City Summer Opera Studio Artist, Regional Classical Singer Competition Third Place Winner, Winner of University of Minnesota 2015 Concerto Competition
  • Katherine Skovira, DMA: Aspen Festival, Castleton Festival
  • Laura Modglin, BM: UROP Undergrad Research Grant, Songs of Severac; Bel Canto Summer Voice Program, Munich
  • Elizabeth Roddy, BA: Bel Canto Summer Voice Program, Munich
  • Brennan Blankenship, MM: Principal Artist Northern Light Opera Co., Mill City Summer Opera Studio Artist, State NATS First Place Winner
  • David Kozisek, DMA: voice faculty, MacPhail Center for Music
  • Jennifer Olson, DMA: NATS state and regional finalist, semifinalist for the NATSAA award, Adjunct Professor of Voice, Bemidgi State University
  • Zachary Colby, DMA: member of Cantus

Mezzo Soprano Professor Adriana Zabala has performed more than 30 roles in 50 operatic productions in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe, in companies such as the Seattle Opera, the Minnesota Opera and the Opera Reina Sofia in Valencia, Spain. She has concertized with the Orchestra of St. Luke's, The Minnesota Orchestra, The Virginia Symphony and the Jerusalem Symphony, among many others, and has given recitals at The Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, The Barns at Wolf Trap, and on the Salzburg Institute Chamber Music Concert Series.

Ms. Zabala recently created the role of Sister James in the world premiere of Douglas Cuomo and John Patrick Shanley's operatic adaptation of the play Doubt, commissioned by the Minnesota Opera in 2013. Her performance and the production garnered significant critical acclaim from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, among many others publications.The HD recording of the opera will be nationally broadcast on PBS in 2014.

Engagements in the 2014-15 season include alto soloist in Mahler's Second Symphony with the Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä, soloist in the Mozart Requiem with both the Florida Bach Festival Society and the Jacksonville Symphony, alto soloist in Beethoven's Missa Solemnis with the Bay Back Chorale in Boston, The soloist in the Anne Frank oratorio, Annelies, with Montclair State University in New Jersey, the world premiere of Jeffrey Van's Reeping the Whirlwind with the Susquehanna Valley Chorale in Pennsylvania, soloist in Chausson's Poeme d'amour et de la Mer with the Oregon Mozart Players, recitals at Subculture in New York City, and on the Salzburg Institute Chamber Music Concert Series, and operatic engagements at Nashville Opera in the revival of Carly Simon's Romulus Hunt, and creating the role of Rosie Cheney in the world premiere of Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell's The Manchurian Candidate with Minnesota Opera. In the 2015-2016 season Professor Zabala will create the title role in the world premiere of Aldridge and Garfein's Sister Carrie at Florentine Opera Company in Milwaukee, and perform the role of Paula in Daniel Catan's Florencia en el Amazonas with Arizona Opera.

Ms. Zabala has worked with some of the finest singers and conductors in the world, among them maestri Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Osmo Vanska, Edo de Waart, Michael Christie and JoAnn Falleta, and singers Bryn Terfel, Denyce Graves, Christine Brewer, Elina Garanca and Carlos Alvarez.

In addition to her extensive experience with traditional repertoire such as Mozart, Rossini and Handel, Ms. Zabala has been involved with many notable new projects and premieres. She originated the role of Erminella in John Musto's Volpone at the Wolf Trap Opera, and sang the Barbarian Girl in the American premiere of Philip Glass' Waiting for the Barbarians at the Austin Lyric Opera. For her work in this piece the New York Times hailed her as a "vivid, fearless presence," and the Los Angeles Times noted the work of the "extraordinary young mezzo." In addition to many other roles she has sung at the Minnesota Opera, Ms. Zabala gave a critically acclaimed portrayal of Pinocchio in the American premiere of Jonathan Dove's The Adventures of Pinocchio. She also received international acclaim for her role as Isabella Linton in the revival of Bernard Herrmann's Wuthering Heights, recorded for HD DVD release.

Ms. Zabala is a proud member of the voice faculty at the University of Minnesota, and thoroughly enjoys building and discovering the strengths of her students as singers and artists. She takes a holistic approach which involves finding literature that resonates with each singer, working with each student to find the optimal balance of physical release and readiness, out of which excellent breathing and technical confidence give wing to expression. Her studio has an exciting history of creating thematic programs rooted in theater and music, with themes ranging from Kurt Weill to Stephen Sondheim to Shakespeare. Serving the broader voice division, Professor Zabala administers a grant called Educational Collaboration and Coaching of Opera (ECCO), which facilitates hours of coaching and exchange between advanced singers in the School of Music and the music staff at Minnesota Opera. In the 2013-14 academic year Ms. Zabala served as Head of the Applied Area in the School of Music.

Professor Zabala teaches Graduate Vocal Literature and a Freshman Seminar entitled Shakespeare in Film and Music. She also created a Global Seminar entitled Vive les Arts! Paris-inspired Music, Art and Poetry, which takes place each year in May and June in Paris. Professor Zabala directed the initial season of the the Studio Artist Program of the Mill City Summer Opera, a thriving young company in Minneapolis, housed on the banks of the Mississippi River in the Mill City Museum Ruin.

Raised in Miami, Caracas and Houston, Ms. Zabala pursued her undergraduate degree at Louisiana State University and her master’s degree at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She was also a Fulbright Scholar, studying Lieder at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. After many years living in New York City and several other cities far and wide, Professor Zabala is happy to make her home in the Twin Cities with her French husband and their two daughters. For more information please visit

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Fulbright Scholar: Lieder/Oratorio, Mozarteum, Salzburg, Austria, 1996-97.
  • Master's Degree: Vocal Performance, University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, Cincinnati, OH, 1999.
  • Bachelor of Music: Music Education, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, 1995.
Courses Taught
  • Applied Voice: Undergraduate and Graduate
  • Graduate Vocal Literature
  • Graduate Intensive Recitativo
  • Global Seminar in Paris: Vive les Arts!
  • Freshman Seminar: Shakespeare in Film and Music