Kira Dills-Desurra, Mezzo-Soprano

About

About

Kira Dills-DeSurra is a vibrant American mezzo-soprano whose magnetic stage presence communicates effortless charm and truth. A champion of new and rarely performed works, Dills-DeSurra has appeared in many American premieres, and she also cultivates skills in musical improvisation and circus arts as part of her broad-ranging palate of storytelling tools.

In 2019/20 Dills-DeSurra returns to Opera Colorado as an Artist in Residence, singing a performance of Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Shepherd Boy (Tosca) and principal roles in touring productions. Fall 2019 she joins San Diego Symphony as the mezzo-soprano soloist in Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream under Maestro Rafael Payare.

Summer of 2019 Dills-DeSurra endeavored into early music, playing Diana/Giove in Diana in La Calisto with Opera NEO. The 2018/19 season marked her debut with Opera Colorado, singing Flora (La traviata), Gertrude Stein (Tom Cipullo’s After Life), and Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro). She was also featured in touring productions as Stéphano (Roméo et Juliette) and Hansel (Hansel and Gretel).

Dills-DeSurra was an Apprentice Artist in Central City Opera’s 2018 and 2017 summer festivals, performing Zweite Dame (Die Zauberflöte), covering Ines (Il trovatore), featuring as a soloist in Encore: A Musical Revue, and singing Mercédès (Carmen).

She made her role debut as Vera Boronel in a Chicago Opera Theater and Long Beach Opera co-production of The Consul in 2017. With Chicago Opera Theater/Long Beach Opera she was also featured as Nurse and Secretary in Glass’s The Perfect American, Isolde of the White Hands in Frank Martin’s Le Vin Herbé, and Lysander (cover) in The Fairy Queen. Additional credits with Chicago Opera Theater include La Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi, Cecilio (cover) in Mozart’s Lucio Silla, and Mary in the Chicago premiere of Amy Beach’s Cabildo. Dills-DeSurra is a graduate of the Chicago Opera Theater Young Artist Program.

A gifted singing actress in a wide range of repertoire, Dills-DeSurra’s role highlights also include Stéphano in Roméo et Juliette (Lorin Maazel’s Castleton Festival), Chewy in the world premiere of Hand to Mouth (First Look Sonoma), and an Actress in Sir David McVicar’s production of Elektra (Lyric Opera of Chicago). She is also a founding member of Forte Chicago, an all-female opera improv troupe with whom she has collaboratively created and starred in four major productions. Dills-DeSurra’s love and affinity for comedy began with operetta; she has performed many Gilbert and Sullivan roles, including The Fairy Queen in Iolanthe, Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, the title character in Patience, Pitti-Sing in The Mikado, Mad Margaret in Ruddigore, and Casilda in The Gondoliers.

Dills-DeSurra’s artistic achievement has been recognized through success in competition and various awards. She was a National Finalist in the Classical Singer Music Vocal Competition (2017), and she won first place in both the National Association of Teachers of Singing Competition, Chicago (2016) and Evanston Music Club/North Shore Musicians Club Competition (2016). Other accolades include the Metropolitan Opera National Council St. Louis District Encouragement Award (2016), Central City Opera John Vivian Richard Award (2018) and Central City Opera Guild Award (2017).

Hailing from Petaluma, California, Dills-DeSurra earned a Master of Music and Artist Diploma from Roosevelt University: Chicago College of Performing Arts and a Bachelor of Music from University of Southern California.

Critical Acclaim

Diana / Giove in Diana / La Calisto / Opera NEO
"Mezzo-soprano Kira Dills-DeSurra as Diana is both a nuanced singer and talented comedic stage actress"
Pam Kragen, The San Diego Union-Tribune / Read the Review
Diana / Giove in Diana / La Calisto / Opera NEO
"I hope that mezzo-soprano Kira Dills-DeSurra is receiving double pay for singing with such panache the role of Diana as well as the trouser role of Jove disguised as Diana. Romancing Endimione, she floated fluttery, romantic serenades, but as Jove in disguise, she gruffly enticed the unsuspecting Calisto with a completely different timbre."
Ken Herman, San Diego Story / Read the Review
Gertrude Stein / After Life (Tom Cipullo) / Opera Colorado
"The more ambitious After Life was sung capably by three of Opera Colorado's talented group of apprentice Artists in Residence. Kira Dills-DeSurra looked the part as Stein [and] sang with passion and impeccable intonation. "
Marc Shulgold, Opera News / Read the Review
Flora / La Traviata / Opera Colorado
"As the good friend of Violetta, Kira Dills-DeSurra as Flora Bervoix does a fine job of offering a blend of style and comedy to the role."
Jon Bee, Broadway World / Read the Review
Zweite Dame / Die Zauberflöte / Central City Opera
" The harmonies delivered by the Three Ladies (Tasha Koontz, Kira Dills-DeSurra and Melanie Ashkar), who follow Tamino throughout the opera, are nothing short of divine."
David Marlowe, Theatre Reviews / Read the Review
Zweite Dame / Die Zauberflöte / Central City Opera
"Apprentice Artists Tasha Koontz, Kira Dills-DeSurra and Melanie Ashkar sang and acted the Three Ladies with aplomb and beautifully blending voices"
Charles Jernigan, Jernigan Opera Journal / Read the Review
Zweite Dame / Die Zauberflöte / Central City Opera
"Apprentice artists Tasha Koontz, Kira Dills-DeSurra and Melanie Ashkar were pleasing in every way as the Three Ladies."
Peter Alexander, Sharps and Flatirons / Read the Review
Isolde of the White Hands / The Love Potion / Long Beach Opera
"Kira Dills-DeSura, who will be the Second Lady in Central City Opera’s presentation of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” this summer, was a sweet-sounding Isolde-of-the-White-Hands who showed her innocence with creamy alto tones."
Maria Nockin, Operawire / Read the Review
Isolde of the White Hands / The Love Potion / Long Beach Opera
"As the evil Isolde of the White Hands (yes, there were two Isolde's in the text sources Martin used), alto Kira Dills-DeSurra's malevolence is carefully calibrated."
Rick Schultz, LA Times / Read the Review
Vera Boronel / The Consul / Chicago Opera Theater
"Kira Dills-DeSurra's desperate Vera Boronel completed the cast with distinction."
Mark Thomas Ketterson, Opera News / Read the Review
Vera Boronel / The Consul / Chicago Opera Theater
"Kira Dills-Desurra as Vera Boronel was amusing in her paper-signing duet with the Secretary"
Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review / Read the Review
Vera Boronel / The Consul / Long Beach Opera
"Every role is cast flawlessly, a rarity in opera."
Tony Frankel, Stage and Cinema / Read the Review
Mercedes / Carmen / Central City Opera
"The singers handled the French dialogue efficiently, showing fine command of the tricky ensemble demands of the smuggler’s quintet and card trio, in which Heidi Middendorf (Frasquita) and Kira Dills-DeSurra (Mercedes) performed flawlessly."
Marc Shulgold, Opera News / Read the Review
Mercedes / Carmen / Central City Opera
"Among the supporting cast, Heidi Middendorf and Kira Dills-DeSurra were delightfully engaging as Carmen's friends Frasquita and Mercedes. "
Kelly Dean Hansen, Daily Camera Entertainment / Read the Review
Lysander (Cover) / Ensemble / The Fairy Queen / Chicago Opera Theater
"Also covering the lead roles … mezzo-soprano Kira Dills-DeSurra ...sang strongly and often very beautifully. In an ensemble of this size, the quality of each individual voice was apparent, and the young singers revealed themselves to be first-rate artists in the making. "
Joseph Newsome, Voix des Arts / Read the Review
Isolde of the White Hands / The Love Potion / Chicago Opera Theater
"sang robustly and with well-blended cohesion"
Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review / Read the Review
La Ciesca / Gianni Schicchi / Chicago Opera Theater
"sung lustily and executed the complex ensembles flawlessly"
Bill Sweetland, Newcity Stage / Read the Review
Stéphano / Roméo et Juliette / Castleton Festival
"There were strong performances throughout the supporting roles...Kira Dills-DeSurra as Stéphano, the young page of Roméo. "
Philip Kennicott, The Washington Post / Read the Review
About – Kira Dills-Desurra