Donna Roll, Department Chair; Opera; Vocal Performance
Born in Cleveland Ohio, soprano Donna Roll began her early studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music. She graduated from Boston University with degrees in Opera and Theater. She then participated in the Young Artist Seminar at the Metropolitan Opera where she sang the roles of Tosca and Elsa in Lohengrin and subsequently won the Kirsten Flagstad Award.
Ms. Roll made her operatic debut at the Royal Opera Stokholm and had recital debuts at Lincoln Center and Copenhagen, followed by a tour with the Orchestra Chambre de Versailles. Robert Joffery, of the Joffery Ballet, conceived the role of "She who sings" for Ms. Roll; she sang over two hundred performances of the Wesendonck Lieder in the ballet Remembrances. This received such critical acclaim that it led to solo performances with the Rochester, Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, Baltimore, Kansas City, Seattle, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Oregon and Virginia Symphonies. While singing with the Minnesota Symphony, she accepted the Distinguished Woman of the Year Award from the international music fraternity for women: Sigma Alpha Iota.
A revered teacher, Ms. Roll has taught masterclasses for the Costa Rican Symphony and Opera and served as a consultant for the Zarzuela Institute at the Jarvis Conservatory. Ms. Roll was the Artistic Director at Great Woods, directing opera and musical theater during the summer festivals, where CNN filmed a documentary of her work featuring adults and children in opera. Ms. Roll taught for ten years at the New England Conservatory and has been guest director at the Hartt School and visiting professor at Connecticut Wesleyan University. Ms. Roll has given masterclasses in over twenty colleges and universities and continues to be a visiting professor at the University of Miami, Morgan Sate University, Mesa State Colorado and Oklahoma City University.
Ms. Roll collaborated with Derek Walcott, poet; playwright, and winner of the Nobel Prize, and T. J. Anderson; composer, to direct the operaWalker at the Boston Athenaeum, which she later produced at Phillips Academy and Governor Dummer. Ms. Roll directed "The Miracle of the Human Voice" at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center featuring Tony Randall.
Ms. Roll has received the Distinguished Woman in the Arts Award twice from the National Federation of Music Clubs for her opera company Operafest. Once based at the Federal Reserve Bank, this summer opera company now tours throughout New England and Cape Cod continuing to create opportunities for young singers.
Ms. Roll also serves as the Artistic Director of the Key West Symphony Young Artist Program, a summer festival featuring performances by emerging artists in opera and musical theater. The Young Artist Program has now expanded to include a winter tour performing at the Tennessee Williams Theater in Key West, Islamorada, and the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale.
Ms. Roll studied voice with David Blair McClosky and coaches include Walter Taussig, George Schick, Sigmour Lipkin, Paul Meyers, Felix Wolfes and Dino Yanapolos. She studied acting with Ted Kasanoff, Samuel Hirsch, and Burgess Meredith and direction with Edmond Thommen and Eliot Norton.
Ms. Roll has been vocal consultant to Faye Dunaway (Master Class), F. Murray Abraham (King Lear), and James Taylor. Ms. Roll has had prize-winning students perform at Brevard, Chautauqua, Santa Fe, Pittsburgh Opera, Central City, Boston Early Music Festival, Tanglewood, Lake George, Sarasota Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Connecticut Concert Opera, New York Oratorio Society, New Jersey Opera, The Puccini Society, Washington Opera Young Artist Program, Marlboro Artists Program, New York City Opera, Opera North, and Connecticut Opera. Ms. Roll also teaches the winner of the International Madame Butterfly prize.