Praised for her “lovely mezzo voice” (Berkshire Fine Arts) and “dramatically incisive” stage presence (Parterre Box), American-Canadian Ilanna Starr is currently an artist-in-residence with l’Atelier lyrique at l’Opéra de Montréal. She began her 2023/24 season with a “stand out” performance (l’Opéra) as Nerone in L’incoronazione di Poppea with l’Atelier lyrique and l’Orchestre de l’Agora under Nicolas Ellis. This season she also takes the stage as Mercédès in Carmen with l’Orchestre symphonique de Trois-Rivières, Cherubino (cover) in l’Opéra de Montréal’s Le nozze di Figaro, and her upcoming main stage debut with l’Opéra de Montréal as Flora Bervoix in La traviata.
Previous operatic role highlights include Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel), Dorabella (Così fan tutte), Tisbe (La Cenerentola), La Messagiera (L’Orfeo), Melissa (La liberazione di Ruggiero), and Amastre (Serse). Ilanna has also amassed experience interpreting characters in newer operatic works covering the role of the Captain in the Chicago premiere of David T. Little’s Dog Days as well as Brittomara in the Midwest premiere of Jake Heggie’s If I Were You. Most recently she originated the role of Venus in the world premiere of Dean Burry’s Il giudizio di Pigmalione.
In concert, Ilanna has sung the mezzo solo in John Corigliano’s Fern Hill in addition to being a featured street player soloist in Bernstein’s MASS. Collaborating frequently with Northwestern’s Contemporary Music Ensemble, conducted by Alan Pierson of Alarm Will Sound, she was the solo vocalist in Andrew Hamilton’s 20-minute work, music for people who like art, as well as a soloist in Marcos Balter’s meltDown Upshot at Chicago’s 2021 EarTaxi Festival.
Ilanna has trained at SongFest and Chautauqua, and was recently named a 2024 District Winner in the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition. Two years prior, she was recognized by the same competition winning an encouragement award. In 2023, she was named a Wirth Vocal Prize finalist in addition to a laureate with the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques of the Théâtre Lyrichorégra where she won the top prize of Talent Lyrique Québécois.
Passionate about exploring diverse human experiences through art music, Ilanna has curated and performed collaborative recitals centered around the voices of women, domestic violence, relationship communication styles, and the resilience of Jewish culture during the Holocaust and throughout the 20th century. She holds degrees from Vanderbilt University, Northwestern University, and McGill University.
A lover of dogs and baroque rage arias, Ilanna digs singing from her heart and laughing from her belly (and vice versa).