Biography

Native Californian Clarissa Lyons has been garnering praise for her “luxuriant large soprano” (Los Angeles Times) in her performances in operas, oratorios, and concert works.

2015 has been an especially notable year for Ms Lyons after being named the Grand Prize Winner at Florida Grand Opera’s Young Patronnesses of the Opera Competition and the Glenn & Ginger Flournay Award Winner at Shreveport Opera’s Mary Jacobs Smith Singer of the Year Competition.  Additionally, the artist participated in The Song Continues series at Carnegie Hall in January 2015, helmed by iconic mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne where she performed in a masterclass led by Warren Jones. She will return to Carnegie Hall in January 2016 to present a Spotlight Recital in Weill Hall as part of The Song Continues series alongside tenor Miles Mykkanen and pianist Ken Noda. Ms. Lyons will be a Bel Canto Artist at Katonah’s Caramoor Festival during the summer of 2015.  She will be covering Blanche in Poulenc’s Les Dialogues des Carmelites and appearing in a night of Italian arias and songs with fellow young artists. Additionally, Ms. Lyons received the Audience Choice Award and Third Place at the James Toland Vocal Arts Competition in June 2015.  In the Fall of 2015, Clarissa will join The Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.

As a Young Artist at Opera on the Avalon in 2014, Ms. Lyons received praise for her comedic timing as Helena in Britten’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” conducted by Vlad Iftinca and directed by Tom Diamond.  She also traveled to Seattle, Washington to perform the resurrection of Mark Morris Dance Group’s Love Song Waltzes and New Love Song Waltzes with the noted dance group.

Ms. Lyons had the privilege of performing in the West Coast premiere of Libby Larsen’s The Magdalene as well as John Musto’s arrangement of Leonard Bernstein’s Songfest during the summer of 2013.  The Los Angeles Time lauded Lyons’s “standout” performance of ‘Julia de Burgos’ in Songfest, which Mark Swed described as delivering a “burning angry heat.”  The Summer of 2013 also included a residency at the International Vocal Arts Institute in Blacksburg Virgina where she appeared as Mrs. Gleaton in Floyd’s Susannah.

In August of 2012, Ms. Lyons appeared alongside Stephanie Blythe, Yulia van Doren, and Joshua Jeremiah in Mark Morris Dance Group’s performance of Dido and Aeneas at the Mostly Mozart Festival under the baton of the choreographer.  She also collaborated with Mark Morris Dance Group in performances of Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts and Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy in March of 2012.

Ms. Lyons was vocal fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center in both 2011 and 2012.  For her performance of Monteverdi’s Lamento d’Arianna directed by acclaimed choreographer Mark Morris, she was credited with singing with “heartstopping abandon” in Opera News Magazine.  Also in 2011, Lyons had the opportunity to perform excerpts from Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride with Susan Graham and the Boston Symphony Orchestra and performed in a recital featuring settings of Charles Baudelaire’s poetry with Stephanie Blythe.  In 2012, Lyons performed Ravel’s Trois Poèmes de Stephane Mallarmé alongside the New Fromm Players, Prokofiev’s Ugly Ducking for Tanglewood on Parade, and sections of John Williams’ song cycle Seven for Luck in celebration of the composer’s 80th birthday.

In February 2010, Ms. Lyons created the role of St. Francis’ Trainer in David T. Little and Royce Vavrek’s Vinkensport: The Finch Opera for Bard College Conservatory’s Vocal Arts Program.  Ms. Lyons also appeared as Elaine O’Neill in the New York Premiere of John Musto’s Later the Same Evening, as Greta Fiorentino in an outreach production of Street Scene, and covered Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus at the Manhattan School of Music.  Ms. Lyons performed Mimì in the Martina Arroyo Foundation’s Prelude to Performance’s production of La Boheme.  In the October 2009 issue, Opera News magazine lauded Lyons’ “explosive” singing and described her interpretation with, “as pure of heart as ever a Mimì was.”

Ms. Lyons also has a passion for concert and recital.  She and pianist Bretton Brown have appeared in recital at Opera America’s National Opera Center and at the WMP Concert Hall in New York City, and in the Winner’s Recital for the Carmel Music Society in Carmel, California. In the summer of 2010, she appeared in recital with Graham Johnson as well as John Musto, and in a staged version of Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch directed by Martin Katz.  Ms. Lyons has appeared as a soloist with the UC Berkeley University Chorus, with the Vermont Philharmonic, and with the Manhattan School of Music Percussion Ensemble’s New York premiere of Fred Lerdahl’s The First Voices.  In August of 2011, she made her Davies Symphony Hall debut with the San Francisco Choral Society in their performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah featuring Rod Gilfry.  As a participant in Carnegie Hall’s Professional Training Workshop with Dawn Upshaw and Donnacha Dennehy, Ms. Lyons premiered composer Christopher Mayo’s Death on Three Mile Creek.

In addition to her prizes at the Young Patronnesses Competition, Shreveport Opera Competition, and Carmel Music Society competition, Ms. Lyons was the winner of the 2010 David Adams Art Song Competition, Second Place in the 2010 Pacific Musical Society, a Semifinalist in the 2014 Walter M. Naumburg Competition, and a Finalist in the Song Division of the Liederkranz Competition in both 2011 and 2013. She has been recognized with the Ellie Silver Award, James Schwabacher Jr. Memorial Award and Henry Holt Award from the Henry and Maria Holt Scholarship Competition. She is a recipient of the 2010 Marc and Eva Stern Fellowship at SongFest at Pepperdine as well as the 2008 Bel Canto Institute Orchestral Performance Award.  While a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, Ms. Lyons was the recipient of the Thelma Fisher Memorial Fellowship in 2011 and the Mr. and Mrs. Walter Shmerler Fellowship in 2012. Upon graduating with Honors from UC Berkeley, Ms. Lyons was awarded the Eisner Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts.  Recently, UC Berkeley awarded Ms. Lyons the Alfred Hertz Memorial Traveling Fellowship for the 2014 – 2015 year.