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Opera and Musical Theater

New York native Kara Cornell is a versatile performer who is known as "a singer who can balance impeccable production and phrasing with enthusiastic and colorful dramatics." (Berkshire Review for the Arts) Her intuitive acting skills and expressive portrayal of roles has hailed her "accomplished and electrifying" (Opera Insider) with roles ranging from a "totally endearing" Cinderella (St. Petersburg Times) to a "seductive, wounded, damaged and dangerous" Carmen (The Troy Record). 


Classic operatic roles that Kara has recently performed include CARMEN (Hubbard Hall Opera Theater NY, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Long Island Opera, St. Petersburg Opera FL), "Orfeo" in ORFEO ED EURIDICE (Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Mosaic-Arts NY), “Sesto” in GIULIO CESARE (Upstate Chamber Opera NY), "3rd Lady" in THE MAGIC FLUTE (Opera Saratoga) and "Rosina" in IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA (Raylynmor Opera NH, St. Petersburg Opera FL, Center City Opera PA, Utah Festival). Contemporary roles performed include "Dinah" in TROUBLE IN TAHITI (Union Avenue Opera MO, Resonance Works | Pittsburgh, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra), "Minskwoman" in John Dove's FLIGHT (Opera Fayetteville), "Eliza Doolittle" in MY FAIR LADY (Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts NY), "Cinderella" in INTO THE WOODS (St. Petersburg Opera), "Beth" in MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG (Theater Co. at Hubbard Hall), "Jo"/"Alma" in LITTLE WOMEN (Center City Opera/Pittsburgh Opera) and the lead role of "Isabelle Eberhardt" in Missy Mazzoli's SONG FROM THE UPROAR (Opera Ithaca).

Contemporary and American Music

Kara's clear English diction, soulful interpretations, and intuitive rhythmic skills are making her known as a singer who excels in the Contemporary and American music genre. Kara enjoys collaborating with composers and is premiering pieces in American Art Song themed recitals nationally in a tour called "Creative Collaborations". Similarly, she is a frequent artist with The Center for Contemporary Opera in NYC, a professional company with a similar mission.

Kara can be heard on the recording of Nancy Galbraith’s SACRED SONGS AND INTERLUDES. She premiered the role of “Sara” in Kristin Hevner’s electronica opera WEDNESDAY BEFORE LAST with Musaic Concert Series in New York City. Kara portrayed Frank Lloyd Wright's first wife in Daron Hagen's SHINING BROW (which was performed at the famous FALLINGWATER), and recently she sang both the Eastern and Western solos in Karl Jenkin's STABAT MATER, where she was hailed "superb" for her ability to switch vocal styles at the drop of a hat. Kara was flown in for a last minute replacement in John Dove's FLIGHT with Opera Fayetteville, where she learned and performed the unfamiliar role of "Minskwoman" in 8 days. Additionally, Kara has collaborated with and premiered pieces most notably by Russell Andrade, Reza Vali, Evan Mack, Susan Kander, Frederic Sharaf, Steve Murray, and Errolyn Wallen.

Jazz and Pop

One of the reasons Kara considers herself a crossover artist is because she not only performs in musicals, but also in the genre of jazz and pop. Kara’s Grandfather was a jazz pianist, and his love of all things jazz has led her to often perform works by George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael and Leonard Bernstein with experts in the field, including pianist Lincoln Mayorga. 

Click here to read a short and unexpected tribute to Kara's Grandfather, during an interview she gave for a performance in 2013.

Oratorio and Sacred Music

Kara enjoys performing oratorio and sacred works. She has performed the alto solos in many fully-orchestrated oratorios, including Handel’s MESSIAH, JUDAS MACCABAEUS, SAMSON and UTRECHT TE DEUM, Mendelssohn’s ELIJAH, Honegger’s KING DAVID and Bach’s CHRISTMAS ORATORIO, ST JOHN PASSION, Corigliano's FERN HILL and Karl Jenkin's STABAT MATER. Kara has had the privilege to work most notably with The United States Naval Academy, The Pittsburgh Camerata, Aoede Music Consort, Williamstown Early Music, The Brooklyn Philharmonic, Burnt Hills Oratorio Society, Albany Pro Musica, Cape Cod Symphony, Butler Symphony, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Akron Symphony Chorus, Westmoreland Choral Society, and Falmouth Chorale. 


A graduate of Smithtown High School (New York), Kara earned a bachelors in fine arts, with college and university honors, from CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY. She earned a masters in music from STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY. 


If you can believe it, Kara was not particularly interested in singing in public until she was 15 years old. As a painfully shy and sensitive child, Kara spent much of her time alone her with pets and arts-and-crafts. She also felt a strong pull to help others. Though singing has become her biggest passion in life, Kara continues to foster life-long hobbies.

Kara makes homeless packs and gives instructions to others if they wish to do the same. 

Jokingly known as the “cat whisperer” at a NY animal shelter, Kara domesticated over 30 feral cats who were then adopted by loving families, and is also a member and supporter of Alley Cat Allies.

Kara feels strongly about supporting the local blood bank and donates blood every 2-3 months.

As a certified Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Master, Kara does healing work on human and animal clients, and also teaches Reiki certification classes. 

In 2010 Kara became a proud “big sister” through Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Cornell was...superb. Her voice was lustrous, her phrases were finished and her diction excellent in Latin, English and Aramaic."

- Geraldine Freeman, The Schenectady Gazette, reviewing Karl Jenkins' Stabat Mater with the Octavo Singers

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