Associate Professor: Voice
A native-born Californian from the San Francisco Bay Area, Wendy Zaro has performed to audiences in Europe, Taiwan, and South and North America where the New York Times critics hailed her performances of Susanna as "gripping". The Saint Joseph News Press described her performance of the Verdi Requiem as possessing "amazingly powerful vocals” displaying a "simple, almost effortless, approach". Opera News Magazine said of her role as Mrs. Nolan in The Medium as a "lustrous robust sound". At home on the opera, music theatre, and concert stages, Dr. Zaro's credits include San Francisco Opera, Eugene Opera, and various regional companies. She has performed with world-class conductors such as Henrich Hollreiser, Edo De Waart, Lamberto Gardelli, Garcia Navarro, and Brian Priestman. Roles performed by Dr. Zaro include Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, Susanna in Susanna, The Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Belinda in Dido and Aeneas, Mimi in La Boheme, Mrs. Nolan in The Medium, Pitti-sing in The Mikado, and Olga in The Merry Widow. She performed an operatic version of Iris in The Tempest at the Marc Taper Forum in Los Angeles featuring Anthony Hopkins and Stephanie Zimbalist.
Dr. Zaro's concert work includes solo appearances with symphonies throughout the United States and abroad. While a guest of the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional del Paraguay and the Mennonite Symphony Chorale in Asuncion, Paraguay where she performed Mendelssohn's Psalm 42 and operatic arias from La Boheme, Carmen and Don Giovanni in addition to singing recitals at the Teatro del las Americas and was a guest teacher and clinician for the Mennonite Music community in Asuncion and the rural jungle community of the Chaco in Paraguay. Wyoming audiences heard her sing the Verdi Requiem with the Wyoming Symphony and Chorus. She was featured in Mahler's Second Symphony, the “Resurrection Symphony,” with the Wichita Symphony and Chorus, and Brahms’s “Ein Deutches” Requiem with the University of Missouri-Columbia Symphony and Chorus. Numerous appearances with the St. Joseph Symphony and Chorus of Missouri led to performances of Britten's War Requiem, Verdi's Requiem Mass, and Barber's Summer of Knoxville: 1915. Dr. Zaro premiered an American debut of Gorecki's “Symphony No. 3” with the University of Kansas Symphony Orchestra, Brian Priestman, conductor, as well as performances of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at KU and the University of Minnesota. Minneapolis audiences have heard Dr. Zaro sing Barber's “Summer of Knoxville: 1915” with the Kenwood Orchestra as well as performances of operatic arias with the Symphony of the Lakes.
Performing in the musical theatre genre, Dr. Zaro has been featured in the roles of Lady Thiang in “The King and I” with the Eugene Musical Theatre, The Inn-Keeper’s wife in “Man of La Mancha” with the Newport Musical Theater Festival, RI, Maria and Antonia in “The Man of La Mancha” with the Coachlight Dinner Theatre in New York, and Iris in “The Tempest” at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. She was the featured performer in the long running “Salute to the Oscars”, A Musical Review at the Sur La Mer Dinner Theater at the Marina del Rey in Los Angeles. In her early career, she performed for several seasons with the Sacramento Music Circus in California singing, dancing and acting with great entertainment icons such as Mickey Rooney, Van Johnson, Alan Sues (Laugh-In), Monty Hall (Let’s Make a Deal), Tom Ewell (The Seven Year Itch), and Nancy Kulp (The Beverly Hillbillies) and was a featured soloist in a Bob Hope Show at the Oakland Coliseum.
Her chamber music includes international song recitals with chamber series, encompassing Italy, Taiwan, South America and the USA, presenting the traditional and contemporary art song vocal repertoire. In addition, Dr. Zaro' s versatility can also be heard in the early music genre. For several years, she has performed and toured the northwest with the Oregon Baroque Ensemble and Kansas with the Spencer Baroque Consort.
Dr. Zaro has had an extensive sacred music career as an established soprano soloist and cantor with the St. Paul Episcopal Cathedral of Los Angeles, First Baptist Church of Los Angeles, Temple Emanuel in Westwood, Ca, St. Paul Episcopal in the Village, New York, St. Olaf Catholic Church in Minneapolis. She has also served as choral conductor and worship leader at St. Pius, Cannon Falls, MN and Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Lawrence, KS.
A scholar and performer, Dr. Zaro received her doctorate from the University of Oregon in vocal performance and pedagogy, completing her dissertation on the Jugendlieder of Alban Berg. Her extensive research led to a premier CD recording of the complete Jugendlieder as well as The Seven Early Songs of Berg. She was Associate Professor of Voice at the University of Kansas for 11 years and is currently holding that same title at the University of Minnesota for the past 14 years where she teaches French and German vocal repertoire classes, diction classes, graduate and undergraduate voice, and Style, Diction and Pedagogy for the Choral Classroom. In addition, Dr. Zaro has held affiliate artist positions on the faculties of the University of Oregon, Oregon State and Lane Community College in Eugene, North Central University in Minneapolis. St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, and Normandale College in Bloomington, MN. Dr. Zaro earned her bachelor and master degrees from the University of Southern California. She attended the Conservatorio di G. Verdi in Milan, Italy and attended classes in Italian diction with Evelina Corloni and piano at the Julliard School. She was one of 20 selected of the highly competitive nationally acclaimed 16- week Los Angeles Civic Light Opera Workshop where she received extensive training in musical theatre performance from Paul Gleason and Gordon McCray. Her major teachers and coaches included Daniel Ferro, Herbert Eckhoff, Gwendolyn Koldofsky, Exine Bailey, Natalie Limonik and Esther Andreas.
A dedicated teaching-artist at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Zaro shares her vocal expertise and decades long performance experience with her students as they develop their own awareness in vocal artistry. She relishes in the discovery and unveiling of the true, free, unique voice of each individual singer. In her teaching, Dr. Zaro combines a healthy holistic body and mind approach with an energetic technical study to perfect and release the singing artist within all based upon the Italian bel canto technique she learned while studying in Milan, Italy with Luisa Magenta. As the student’s true natural instrument is revealed and uncovered, specific repertoire is chosen to enhance learning and further develop the individual uniqueness of each singing-artist.
Students in her studio are encouraged to perform in community engagement projects such as “The Walker Project” where students regularly engage with the residents of the Walker Senior Retirement Home in Minneapolis presenting interactive recitals based on the lives of the residents. After students conduct individual interviews with volunteer residents, students choose repertoire that reflect upon certain aspects of the senior’s life experiences enhancing the singer’s awareness of life’s journey in humanity in song. In addition to community engagement opportunities, studio recitals, as well as UMN School of Music based performances with opera workshop and choral solo opportunities are available for students to perform. Dr. Zaro encourages explorations of all genres of art and historical context to enhance student’s development awareness of the art world around them thereby broadening their artistic choices in song presentation. Dr. Zaro also created the “Twin Cities Sacred Vocal Workshop” where students from her voice studio and community members of all faiths engage in mutual learning and understanding of the needs of the dedicated sacred vocal music community in the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul area. On an international community engagement level, Dr. Zaro was recently involved in the international master’s program for “New Artistic Innovative Performances ” (NAIP) held in Iceland where she explored and exchanged ideas of international performance venues for young artist performers from around the world. She will be teaching chamber music at the International Interharmony Music Festival in Archidosso, Italy to students from around the globe.
In recent years, Dr. Zaro has enjoyed exploring and working in vocal jazz with pianist/arranger Lori Dokken. Recently, she recorded a jazz CD, “Fly Home Little Heart”, with the Laura Caviani Trio and was featured in an article by Andrea Canter as a Twin Cities up-and-coming jazz artist in the “Jazz Police” magazine. She has been a special guest on the KBEM FM Jazz 88.5 Maryanne Sullivan Show and NPR: All Things Considered for her work in jazz. In the Spring 2011 Dr. Zaro was an invited artist-in residence for the Minneapolis School District introducing jazz to intermediate school age children in a 10 week-workshop environment culminating in a greater Minneapolis school district jazz concert at the Ted Mann Concert Hall.
Other teaching and performance activities include a membership in the unique singer-led choral group “Singers in Accord” where artist-in-residence conductors are invited by SIA to lead the group for a 10-week experience culminating in performances in and around the Twin-Cities. During her years at KU, Dr. Zaro, along with Simon Carrington (The King’s Singers) created a national choral workshop where she presented “Vocal Pedagogy in a Nutshell”, a five-day study of vocal pedagogy for the choral conductor. An upcoming project for Dr. Zaro is the creation of a week long “High School Summer Vocal Artist Program” that will have its debut in the summer of 2016 at the University of Minnesota. This intensive program will focus on Italian and English art song performance and practice as well as the college audition. High School students interested in finding out more of this program held on campus are encouraged to contact Dr. Zaro at firstname.lastname@example.org. International students are welcome. Dr. Zaro adjudicates nationally at vocal competitions and conducts master classes on interpretation and vocal technique throughout the country. She sits on the board of Minnesota Concert Opera. Dr. Zaro has three grown children and lives with her husband and two toy poodles.