Currently in her fifth year as Associate Professor of Voice and newly appointed as Director of Opera Theatre at San José State University, mezzo-soprano, Layna Chianakas, is known for “vocal talents which are matched by her poignancy as an actress” (Des Moines Register). She has portrayed many leading opera roles including 12 productions of Carmen in Carmen, as well as Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Amneris in Aida, Angelina in La Cenerentola, Sesto in Giulio Cesare, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, The Woman in Poulenc’s La Voix humaine, the title role in La Perichole, and countless Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro. She has performed with such opera companies as Cleveland Opera, Nashville Opera, Sarasota Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Virginia Opera, Dayton Opera, Festival Opera, Nevada Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, Madison Opera, Sacramento Opera, Intermountain Opera and Opera San José. Her most current performances included Orphée in Gluck’s Orphee et Eurydice with Opera Santa Barbara and Suzuki in Madama Butterfly with Intermountain Opera. She recently made her directorial debut with Opera San José for Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine.
Most recently, Ms. Chianakas performed the alto solos in Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, with the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra in Pennsylvania, and Saints by Craig Bohmler with the Vallejo Symphony. An advocate of new music, she had a great success in a performance of Jake Heggie’s The Deepest Desire with the Oakland East Bay Symphony in which she was praised for her “lush, dark tone, as well as a limpid clarity of phrasing” in the San Francisco Chronicle. After debuting Henry Mollicone’s Misa de los Inmigrantes with the San José Symphonic Choir in March, she sang the world premiere of Michael Touchi’s Kahea, written for her in honor of the San José Chamber Orchestra’s 20th anniversary season.
Future engagements include a performance of excerpts of Bohmler’s Saints with San José Chamber Orchestra, the role of His Mother in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors (in which her own son will sing the role of Amahl) with San Jose State Opera Theater/San Jose State Choral Department and Intermountain Opera in Bozeman, MT, the Mezzo-Soprano solos in Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, and Amneris in Aida with Dayton Opera.