“A capable singer and actor, compelling on stage” (LA Times), “flirtatious, sensual, sympathetic, full of fire and stellar in her vocal performance" (Daze Magazine, Canada), Puerto Rican mezzo-soprano Laura Virella is currently best known on the operatic stage for her collection of complex, strong, independent and outspoken Latin women: Carmen, Frida, Luisa Fernanda, Rosina, Desideria (The Saint of Bleecker Street), Maddalena—indeed, roles that seem
tailor-made for her temperament.
But the mezzo-soprano is more interested in the nuance of the very real people she represents on stage and in the way stories are told and by whom, an interest that draws her to meaningful chamber music, themed and interdisciplinary recital collaborations, and the unique sense of adventure in discovering previously overlooked or newly written works.
As a recitalist, she’s an enthusiastic storyteller through programming and particularly an avid proponent of Puerto Rican art song. With her Puerto Rican Art Song project, she hopes to carve a place for this genre among standard song repertoire around the world (see #PRAS).
In chamber music, she has worked with pianist Ernesto Busigó and flutist Josué Casillas to present accessible performances in Puerto Rico, including Ravel’s Chansons Madécasses and Shehérézade – works framed in colonial circumstances and a fascination with exoticism. In New York, she collaborated with the Baroque-inspired Consortium ensemble to premiere ¡Víctor, Catarina! by composer Gilbert Galindo – a piece set to words of praise for Catherine of Alexandria by Baroque Mexican nun Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, mostly known for her mystical poetry; two women who went down in history for being ahead of their times.
In the world of contemporary opera, she performed the role of Alicia in the New York premiere of Some Light Emerges by Laura Kaminsky, Marc Campbell and Kimberly Reed. She became Frida in the crossover and cross-cultural piece by Robert Xavier Rodríguez, captivating thousands in Long Beach and at the Grand Performances series in LA. She has also workshopped Ellis Ludwig-Leone‘s The Night Falls with The American Opera Project.
She has collaborated in cinema. Her voice is featured in the Puerto Rican short film “Dream of Vermilion,” for which she composed the theme song “Época de grito.” She can also be seen in the 2020 opera short “The Barcarolle,” produced by Sara Beth Pearson.
In the realm of Spanish classical music, she debuted at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall in the 34th annual gala of Amigos de la Zarzuela, the first of several performances she will give in New York City in this genre over the next two years, including Falla’s El amor brujo, Granado’s Goyescas and Falla’s La vida breve. She is the recipient of a second place award (second to Patricia Racette) as Best Actress in Opera by the DC Theatre Scene Awards for her portrayal of Moreno Torroba’s Luisa Fernanda.
Professional principal-artist affiliations include Long Beach Opera, the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, Mercury Opera, Festival de Santa Florentina (Barcelona), Theater Rudolstadt, Ópera de Puerto Rico, Wolf Trap Opera, Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, Dicapo Opera and the Queens New Music Festival.
She’s a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, the Peabody Conservatory and an alumna of the Coro de Niños de San Juan.