Hailed as a “radiant and confident” performer, American mezzo-soprano Cherry Duke is a versatile singer “who communicates both the music and the text impeccably.” A regular performer of concert, opera, new music, theater and more, her diverse body of work includes creating the role of The Captain in David T. Little and Royce Vavrek’s opera Dog Days, touring with the American Spiritual Ensemble, 60+ operatic roles, 30+ oratorio/concert roles, and numerous cross-genre workshops and premieres.
On the opera stage, Cherry Duke has performed the title roles in Carmen, Hansel and Gretel, and L’italiana in Algeri, as well as Nerone in The Coronation of Poppea, Jo March in Little Women, and Suzuki in Madama Butterfly. She has performed Siébel in Faust and Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro with Winter Opera Saint Louis, the Third Lady in The Magic Flute with Opera Tampa and Prism Opera and Isabella in L’italiana in Algeri with Opera Company of Middlebury. In 2015 she repeated her world premiere role of the Captain in Dog Days with Fort Worth Opera and Los Angeles Opera and in 2016 performed it with New York City’s Prototype Festival. She is featured on the original cast album, released in 2016. In the spring of 2017, Duke debuted with El Paso Opera as Tisbe in La Cenerentola and returned to El Paso Opera in the role of Hansel in 2018. In 2019, she sang Third Lady in EPO’s The Magic Flute and The Princess in Opera UTEP’s production of Puccini’s Sister Angelica. She performed the mono-opera Bon Appétit for El Paso Opera in February 2021, after the original performances in March 2020 were postponed due to the pandemic.
New Music, Theater and Cross-Over
Cherry Duke has performed frequently in cross-over and music-theater works, including scenes from Scott Davenport Richards’ jazz opera Charlie Crosses the Nation; Don Davis’s salsa-inspired Rio de Sangre; and Gordon Beeferman’s post-modern Ratland, all with New York City Opera’s VOX Festival of New Works. With the Center for Contemporary Opera, she performed in the New York and European premieres of Dellaria’s The Secret Agent, in New York, France and Hungary. At Bard’s SummerScape Festival and Joe’s Pub she was a featured singer-actor in Carl Hancock Rux and Diedre Murray’s ”cabaret opera,” The Blackamoor Angel. She portrayed Mrs. Segstrom in Indiana Repertory Theatre’s A Little Night Music, alongside opera and jazz legend Sylvia McNair. In 2018, she was the headliner for “Amor,” a cabaret/recital at the Philanthropy Theater in El Paso. In 2019, Cherry portrayed Dolly Levi to rave reviews in UTEP Dinner Theatre’s landmark production of Hello, Dolly!
Oratorio and Orchestral Soloist
As an orchestral concert soloist, Cherry Duke has performed at major venues such as Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall. She has been a featured soloist in such repertoire as Bach’s B-Minor Mass, St. John and St. Matthew Passions and Weihnachts-Oratorium; Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Mass in C and Choral Fantasy; Duruflé’s Requiem; Falla’s El Amor Brujo; Handel’s Messiah, several Haydn masses; Mendelssohn’s Elijah; Mozart’s Vesperes Solennes and Grand Mass in C; Rossini’s Stabat Mater; Saint-Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio; Vaughan-Williams’ Hodie and Magnificat; and Respighi’s Lauda per la Nativitá del Signore. She debuted in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 under the direction of Gerard Schwarz with Symphoria in Syracuse, New York, and reprised this role in 2016 with the El Paso Symphony Orchestra.
In 2016, Duke debuted her recital of works by female composers (Women’s Work) at Converse College and University of Texas at El Paso and later was invited to perform the recital at the National Association of Teachers of Singing Texoma Regional Conference and Northeastern State University. She has been a guest performer on numerous recitals at UTEP and was a recent guest artist with composer Jorge Martin and tenor Brian Downen on a special recital for the Opera Company of Middlebury.
As a teacher and clinician, Cherry has served on the voice faculty of Bay View Music Festival, Innovative Music Camps and Clear Creek Music Festival. She has given masterclasses at the University of Texas at El Paso, Indiana Wesleyan University, Bethany College, El Paso Community College, Converse College, Salisbury University, Northeastern University and the University of Alabama. In the fall of 2015, she joined the music faculty at the University of Texas at El Paso where she teaches voice and directs Opera UTEP.
A Texas native, Duke graduated summa cum laude from Texas Woman’s University, where she studied with renowned pedagogue, Joan Wall. She received her graduate degree in Opera Performance from The Hartt School at the University of Hartford. Her major teachers have included Trish McCaffrey, Elaine Bonazzi, David Jones and Judith Natalucci. Cherry Duke is a member of Sigma Alpha Iota, National Opera Association, National Association of Teachers of Singing, the American Guild of Musical Artists, and Actor’s Equity Association.
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