Allegra Durante, soprano, made her professional debut in 2010 as the Page in Rigoletto, and has been performing as an opera singer in the New York City area ever since. She has taken on roles including Olympia in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Josephine in H.M.S. Pinafore, Giulietta in a program of scenes from I Capuleti e i Montecchi interwoven with text from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Amore and Euridice in Orfeo ed Euridice, Papagena & First Lady in Die Zauberflöte, and Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel.
She has performed on numerous concert programs in and near Dresden, Germany, as a student artist with Orfeo Vocal Arts Academy, and has studied performance and Italian language in Italy.
In addition to her passion for performing opera, Allegra has interests in theatre acting, historic movement style/coaching, costuming, and directing. She has produced multiple programs as an independent entity and as part of the ephemeral consortium of performer-producers known as “Gli Spiritosi.”
If you really want to know…
Since her debut in 2010 as the Page in Rigoletto with the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera, Allegra has enjoyed exploring as many facets of the classical opera repertoire as possible. She has performed music as early as Cavalli’s La Calisto and as recent as Yoav Gal’s The Dwarf; explored styles from the effervescent I Due Figaro of Mercadante to the sweeping Der Rosenkavalier of Strauss; and become familiar with music as obscure as Caldara’s Il Giuoco del Quadriglio and well-known as Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.
That being said… mention Gluck, Händel, Mozart, Bellini, or Richard Strauss, and her interest is guaranteed.
In the summer of 2014, Allegra traveled through Italy for two months to become more familiar with her favorite operatic language and to experience a foreign culture. She visited Germany for the first time in 2015, as a student artist with Orfeo Vocal Arts Academy. As her first ever opportunity to focus solely on her development as a singer, the experience was enlightening and intoxicating – and she plans to return to OVAA in 2016.
Allegra’s first performance was (technically speaking) a dance recital when she was three years old, but the theatre bug didn’t bite until she was invited to join a production of 1776! The Musical organized by a merry band of friends (and their parents) in the homeschooling community of Allegra’s native Brooklyn, New York. What started as a way of teaching children about history blossomed into a theatre group that lasted for over five years, during which Allegra had her first experiences being part of an ensemble cast, taking on supporting roles, and working up to playing romantic leads – picking up a few character roles and even pants roles along the way.
After graduating from high school and her homeschooling theatre community, Allegra made the decision to study at musical theatre at schools and in private lessons, rather than pursuing an undergraduate degree. Soon she rediscovered opera (having been entranced by a production of Die Zauberflöte as a five-year-old), and fell in love with the languages, costumes, sets, stories, and characters. She promptly abandoned the musical theatre repertoire faster than Pinkterton left Butterfly (though with much less fallout).
After deciding to study opera, Allegra took classes at the Lucy Moses School in opera performance, sight-singing, and music theory, to supplement her earlier training in musical theatre performance, acting improv, historic movement style, and spoken dialects at HB Studio in New York City; and over 15 years of movement training including ballet, jazz, tap, and ballroom dance, karate, stage combat, and fencing.
As a way of navigating the abrupt change from exploring lead characters in high school productions to being swept up in large opera company choruses, Allegra produced and co-starred in her first independent project in 2012: a program of staged scenes spanning two and a half centuries, four languages, and more than seven different operas entitled “Replenished Repertoire.” When the program was later revived, it was noted that Allegra “demonstrated the vocal agility, and the flouncing and pouting, which are the hallmarks of her fach.” (Opera Obsession)
In 2013 Allegra joined forces with her friend and fellow soprano Susan Bywaters to form “Gli Spiritosi,” and co-direct/co-produce an arrangement of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. The production, accompanied by a period chamber orchestra, played to a sold-out house two nights running and was praised by attendees as being inventive, well-developed, and musically and dramatically laudable. The non-Allegra half of Gli Spiritosi is rarely in New York nowadays, so the reins of the company have fallen squarely into Allegra’s hands. She hopes to revive the group for a new production in the 2016-2017 season.
Working with professional and volunteer opera companies in the New York area has been an invaluable part of Allegra’s training. She has had the pleasure of performing with Vertical Player Repertory, New Amsterdam Opera, Empire Opera, Amore Opera, Vocal Productions NYC, New York Lyric Opera Theatre, Operamission, the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera, Utopia Opera, the Brearley Singers, and the New York Fringe Festival.
As a costume designer, Allegra has worked with New York-based companies Opera Feroce, Salon/Sanctuary Concerts, and Musica Nuova.
In 2016 she made her debut as a Historic Movement Coach while working with Amore Opera on a production of Rigoletto. She gave instruction to the chorus and principals on how to inhabit the movement style of the 16th century, and how to wear period costumes as if they were the singers’ own clothes.
When not performing, Allegra enjoys designing & sewing costumes, interior decorating (usually using her apartment as a canvas), and “adopting” classically beautiful furniture (and tchotchkes).