Associate Professor: Voice

College of Liberal Arts Waldfogel Scholar of the College 2017-2020

Selected Student Accomplishments:

Patrick Terry, BM: Jette Parker Young Artists Programme, Royal Opera House, London 2018-2020; Master's student at The Royal Academy of Music, London, prize-winner of multiple competitions, guest artist at Glyndebourne Festival, ECCO (MN Opera Partnership) class of 2014Sanghun Han, DMA: finalist in Gerda Lissner Foundation Lieder awards, ECCO (MN Opera Partnership) class of 2017Mario Perez, MM: Winner of Voices of Vienna Competition, ECCO (MN Opera Partnership) class of 2018Rebecca Blackwell, MM: ECCO (MN Opera Partnership) class of 2017Georgia Jacobson, BM: Masters student at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music; Arizona State University Winter Vocal Academy, Songfest, Collaborative Piano InstituteSarah Howes, DMA: Assistant Professor of Voice, Southwest Baptist University; SOURCE Song Festival MN DuoLaura Hynes, DMA: Assistant Professor of Voice, University of CalgaryChristine Killian, MM: Mill City Summer Opera Studio Artist, Regional Classical Singer Competition Third Place Winner, Winner of University of Minnesota 2015 Concerto CompetitionKatherine Skovira, DMA: Chair of Opera Studies and Voice at Willamette University; Artistic Director of SoundLAB; Lucerne Festival, Aspen Festival, Castleton Festival
Laura Modglin, BM: UROP Undergrad Research Grant, Songs of Severac; Bel Canto Summer Voice Program, Munich, Masters student University of Miami
Elizabeth Roddy, BA: Bel Canto Summer Voice Program, Munich, Masters student, University of Chicago
Brennan Blankenship, MM: Merola Young Artist- San Francisco Opera; State NATS First Place Winner
Jennifer Olson, DMA: NATS state and regional finalist, semifinalist for the NATSAA award, Assistant Professor of Voice, Bemidgi State University Zachary Colby, DMA: Assistant Professor of Voice, University of Nebraska Omaha; member of Cantus

Hailed by the New York Times as “a vivid, fearless presences,” mezzo soprano and professor, Adriana Zabala was recently featured in a national broadcast on PBS’ Great Performances, in the world premiere of the opera Doubt, in which she originated the role of Sister James. She has performed more than 35 roles in 60 operatic productions (including six world premieres) 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, The Jerusalem Symphony, and The New Jersey Symphony, among many others, and has appeared in recital at The Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, The Barns at Wolf Trap, with the New York Festival of Song, The Dallas Museum of Art, The SOURCE Song Festival, Subculture in NYC, and on the Salzburg Institute Chamber Music Concert Series.

Recently, Professor Zabala created the title role in the world premiere of Robert Aldridge and Herschel Garfein's Sister Carrie at Florentine Opera Company in Milwaukee, to outstanding national reviews. The commercial recording of Sister Carrie is available on Naxos Records. She also debuted in the role of Paula in Daniel Catan's Florencia en el Amazonas with Arizona Opera, reprising the role at both San Diego Opera and Madison Opera, and gave critically acclaimed performances of Amore in L'arbore di Diana and the of the Composer in Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos with the Berkshire Opera Festival.

Professor Zabala’s discography includes Durey Rediscovered (previously unrecorded and unpublished songs of Louis Durey) on New Focus Records, with pianist and scholar Jocelyn Dueck, Gregg Kallor's Exhilaration: Dickinson Songs, the world premiere recording of Pauline Viardot's Le Dernier Sorcier on Bridge Records with the Manhattan Girls Chorus and other soloists Camille Zamora, Eric Owens, and Jamie Barton, and A Few Words About Chekhov, song cycles of Dominick Argento, with Baritone Jesse Blumberg and pianist Martin Katz.

Additional recent engagements include Mahler's Second Symphony with the Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä, the same work with The Quad City Symphony Orchestra and Mark Russell Smith, Mozart’s Requiem with both the Florida Bach Festival Society and the Jacksonville Symphony, Messiah with The Charlotte Symphony and New Jersey Symphony, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis with the Back Bay Chorale in Boston, the title character in the Anne Frank oratorio, Annelies, with Montclair State University in New Jersey and The Oratorio Society of Minnesota, Guest Artist with the Brazosport Symphony, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with both The Colorado Symphony and The Quad City Symphony Orchestra, Pergolesi's Stabat Mater and the third act of Gluck's Orfeo with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Beethoven’s Symphony no. 9 with Handel and Haydn Society of Boston, Bernstein at 100! with the Oratorio Society of Minnesota, and Respighi’s Il Tramonto with the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota.

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, JoAnn Falleta, and singers Bryn Terfel, Denyce Graves, Christine Brewer, Eric Owens, Jamie Barton, Elina Garanca, and Carlos Alvarez.

In addition to her extensive experience with traditional opera, song, and concert repertoire, Ms. Zabala continues to be 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. In addition to praise garnered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times noted the work of the "extraordinary young mezzo." Among more than 15 roles she has performed at Minnesota Opera, Ms. Zabala gave a critically acclaimed portrayal of Pinocchio in the American premiere of Jonathan Dove's The Adventures of Pinocchio, and received international acclaim for her role as Isabella Linton in the revival of Bernard Herrmann's Wuthering Heights. Ms. Zabala also created the role of Sister James in the world premiere of Douglas Cuomo and John Patrick Shanley's operatic adaptation of the play Doubt, part of Minnesota Opera’s New Works Initiative. Her performance and the production garnered significant critical praise from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, among many other publications. With Minnesota Opera she made her role debut as Mary Johnson in Gregory Spears’ Fellow Travelers, and will reprise the role with Madison Opera. She also played Joanna in the revival of Carly Simon’s Romulus Hunt with Nashville Opera. In the past few seasons she has added four new roles to her repertoire of operatic world premieres: the title role of Aldridge & Garfein's Sister Carrie, Rosie Cheney in Puts' The Manchurian Candidate, Manja in Gerald Cohen's Steal a Pencil for Me, and Lucy Talbot in William Bolcom's Dinner at Eight.

A champion of new and contemporary works beyond the opera stage, Ms. Zabala was the soloist in the world premiere of Jeffrey Van’s Reeping the Whirlwind with the Susquehanna Valley Chorale in Pennsylvania, and a full recording of Van’s cycle for voice and guitar, A Ring of Birds, can be heard on Ms. Zabala’s YouTube channel. With baritone Andrew Garland and pianist and conductor Kelly Kuo, Professor Zabala performs a trio recital, When Words Collide, featuring American composers David Conte, Dominick Argento, Scott Gendel, Jared Hedges, and Sam Krahn, and she commissioned a setting of Walt Whitman’s To A Stranger from composer Edie Hill especially for this program. The world premiere took place at University of Texas at Austin, and the program will be given at University of Colorado-Boulder, and at the University of Minnesota. In the non-operatic theatrical realm, Ms. Zabala portrays the title character in NADIA, a chamber music play by Mina Fisher about the legendary educator and conductor, Nadia Boulanger.

Professor 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. Professor Zabala created and administers a partnership called Educational Collaboration and Coaching of Opera (ECCO), between the University of Minnesota and Minnesota Opera, wherein advanced students enjoy coaching and intensive career guidance, and a guest artist series of the UMN vocal arts community, Mondays@Minnesota. Ms. Zabala has served as both Head of the Applied Area in the School of Music, and as Voice Division Chair, and was selected as the College of Liberal Arts Waldfogel Scholar of the College from 2017-2020. With Professor Seth Keeton at the University of Utah as Director, she is the co-creator of the innovative online search tool for art song, SongHelix, and serves on its advisory board.

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 May and June in Paris. In recent seasons she has given master class at the San Diego Opera, University of Wisconsin-Madison, The ArtsBridge Art Song Program, The University of Minnesota High School Summer Program, at St. Olaf College, and at the Brevard Music Center.

Raised in Miami, Caracas and Houston, Ms. Zabala earned 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 and Oratorio at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. Adriana Zabala is represented by ADA Artist Management in New York City, and is happy to make her home in the Twin Cities with her husband and their two daughters. For more information please visit

Educational Background
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Educational Background

  • Fulbright Scholar: Lieder/Oratorio, Mozarteum, 1996-97 -
  • Master's Degree: Vocal Performance, University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, 1999 -
  • Bachelor of Music: Music Education, Louisiana State University, 1995 -