College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Opera Singer Kallen Esperian Presents a Masterclass and Student Recital

From Italy, to China, to New York and now Oxford, world-renowned opera star Kallen Esperian is bringing her talents and techniques to the University of Mississippi.

On Wednesday, September 21 at 1:00 p.m. she will present a masterclass and student recital at Nutt Auditorium.  The event is open to the public. As artist-in-residence, Esperian will work with the UM Department of Music teaching voice classes and appearing in venues on campus.

“We are certainly looking forward to working with Ms. Esperian, one of the greatest sopranos of our time,” said Charles Gates, chairman of the Music Department.

He said the UM/Oxford community can look forward to numerous opportunities to interact with Esparian. Anticipated events include a performance with the university orchestra, various concerts and recitals and a special “Opera Weekend” this winter.

It is also planned that Esperian will appear on Thacker Mountain Radio in the coming weeks.

“I want to be available to all the voice students,” Esperian said.  She will work with the Ole Miss Opera Theatre while also hosting vocal aria meetings, recital meetings and voice classes for the Music Department.

Esperian is also scheduled to sing the national anthem at the Ole Miss/LSU football game.

“I have always loved teaching and wanted to teach at a university,” Esperian said. When Esperian contacted Gates at the Music Department,  was thrilled to hear from her. He said, “When she introduced herself, I said, ‘Yes, I know who you are!’” Gates said the Ole Miss community will benefit greatly from Esparian’s expertise. “She is an engaging and captivating artist of the highest calibre,” he said.


After a series of conversations and a university visit, Esperian was welcomed to the university for the 2011 school year to serve as the artist in residence.

Knowing from a young age that she wanted to be a performer, Esperian attended the University of Illinois as a vocal performance major, although her true passion at the time was musical theatre.

When she received the Undergraduate Freshman Scholarship for Music, Esperian said it was the only thing that kept her from switching to theatre.

“They saved me,” Esperian said. “They knew (of my talent) before I did, and that is when I began to love it.”

She went on to win the Mid-South Metropolitan Opera competition and later to win the 1985 Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition, pulling ahead of 1,500 other contestants. She then appeared opposite Pavarotti as Mimi in the opera “La Boheme,” which toured around the world.

At age 24, Esperian was regarded as an international opera star.  She has performed in every major opera house in the world and has appeared in many performances with the famous Placido Domingo. She notes performing “Othello” in Paris and singing at the La Scala Opera House in Milan, Italy among her favorites. Esparian said her experience in traveling opera has been one of sometimes loneliness but great joy because of her love for the performance and for the relationships with fellow cast members.

“You must really love what you do,” she said. “Try to never let anything steal your joy.”

The video below is of  Pavarotti and Esperian performing Verdi’s “Parigi o Cara,” from La Traviata.