Polish-Canadian-American Mezzo-soprano Katarzyna Sadej was born in Wrocław, Poland, and is based in Los Angeles, California. Her international, eclectic career spans concert, opera, chamber music, oratorio, recital and voice over performance. Katarzyna has also performed numerous world premieres and has had over a dozen new works composed especially for her. Notable highlights include solo appearances at LA Opera, Walt Disney Hall, Carnegie Hall, the National Arts Center Ottawa, the National Theater in Taipei, the Nuits Blanches Festival of Toronto, San Diego Opera, the Ravinia Festival as a Steans Fellow, the 2012 London Olympics, the Ojai International Music Festival, the Montenegrin National Theater, the Lviv (Ukraine) and Banatul (Romania) Philharmonics, the Music Biennale Zagreb, the Bard Summerscape Music Festival, the Cartagena International Music Festival, the Berkshire Bach Society, and Harvard University, among other notable venues.
In 2017 Katarzyna made her debut with L.A. Opera, as the Page of Herodias in Strauss’ Salome. She also debuted with Le Salon des Musiques of Los Angeles, in a recital with pianist Francois Chouchan, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Katarzyna was a featured recitalist at the Bard Summerscape Music Festival, performing a recital of Chopin songs. At Bard Summerscape, she was also the Polish language diction coach for Stanisław Moniuszko’s opera Halka and other Polish works featured at the festival. Also in 2017, Katarzyna appeared in the title role of Bizet’s Carmen at the Palm Springs Opera Guild Gala and sang recitals for the Sembrich Opera Museum at Lake George, and for other venues in Canada and the United States.
Katarzyna specializes in recital performance, and has performed numerous recitals in Canada, USA, England, France, Ukraine, Romania, Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro. She regularly teams up with pianist Basia Bochenek in Los Angeles, and together they are working on a recording of the Witold Lutosławski Derwid songs to be released in 2018.
Other recent debuts include her San Diego Opera debut as Kate Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, her Music and Beyond Festival debut singing the mezzo-soprano solo in Elissar Hanna’s world premiere of The Garden; and, with The Industry, L.A.’s cutting edge contemporary opera company, as River Voice in the world premiere of HOPSCOTCH. She reprised this role on the recording of HOPSCOTCH, released in 2016 by The Industry. Katarzyna made her debut at Festival Mozaic in San Luis Obispo, California, singing the mezzo-soprano solos in J.S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor. She is the 2016 first prize winner of the Susan and Virginia Hawk Vocal Competition. As the 2015 winner of the Marcella Kochańska Sembrich Competition, she appeared in Chicago in August 2015, presenting an all-Polish recital with works by Chopin, Moniuszko, Paderewski, Szymanowski and Karłowicz. The award was presented by The American Council for Polish Culture, and acknowledged Katarzyna’s long-time work as a proud ambassador for Polish music.
Operatic roles Katarzyna has performed include her Carnegie Hall debut, creating the role of the Virgin in the world premiere of Paola Prestini’s opera Oceanic Verses. She also created the lead role of Isabelle Eberhart in Song from the Uproar (world premiere), a new opera composed by Missy Mazzoli. Katarzyna’s other operatic roles include the title roles in Handel’s Ariodante, Bizet’s Carmen and Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel; the Mozart roles of Donna Elvira, Dorabella, Cherubino and Second Lady; Maman and Libellule in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges; Bianca in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia; Maddalena in Verdi’s Rigoletto; and, Giannetta in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore. Katarzyna’s concert / oratorio credits include the alto solos in Duruflé’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Haydn’s Paukenmesse, C.P.E. Bach’s Magnificat, J.S. Bach’s Magnificat, Mendelssohn’s Die Erste Walpurgisnacht, Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, Bach’s Weihnachtsoratorium, Handel’s Chandos Anthems 9 and 11, Purcell’s Rejoice in the Lord Always, Stravinsky’s Les Noces, and in the world premiere of A Call For Peace, composed by Sharbel Dalal.
As an avid performer of new music, Katarzyna was honored to sing the world premiere of Pulitzer-prize winning composer John Harbison’s new song cycle “The Right to Pleasure” at Harvard University, alongside pianist Mark McNeill. She is a featured solo performer on the Metier Records 2013 CD and world premiere recording release of Rising at Dawn: Chamber Music with Brass by Carson Cooman, about which her performance was hailed by James Altena of Fanfare Magazine as “nothing short of enthralling.“
Katarzyna was invited to Jerusalem, Israel, by composer Sharbel Dalal to premiere his oratorio A Call For Peace. Katarzyna also sang the world premiere of Canadian composer Michael Pepa’s Lilliane, composed especially for Katarzyna, with the philharmonic orchestras of Lviv, Ukraine and Timisoara, Romania. She also sang the world premiere of Pepa’s Isomorphe at Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio, performing the work with the Cantus Ensemble of Zagreb orchestra, one of the world’s premiere new music orchestras. She reprised Isomorphe with Cantus Ensemble in Croatia, making her debut at the Music Biennale Zagreb, one of the foremost international festivals that showcases new music, as well as in various prestigious venues in Serbia and Romania. While on this Balkan tour with Les Amis Ensemble, she also performed Respighi’s Il Tramonto and Michael Pepa’s String Quartet No.4 with the Penderecki String Quartet.
Katarzyna has also garnered credits in modeling and commercial acting, most notably as the 2010 spokesmodel for Betta Knit Be Kind, in Italy; and, in voice over work, as the narrator on the 2008-released CD Taibele and her Demon, on which Katarzyna provided narration over the alluring, eclectic jazz music of Lorie Wolf. She has also used her voice-over talents for corporate telephony and for promotional narration for the International Fiber Art Biennale of China.
Katarzyna completed Dawn Upshaw’s Vocal Arts Program at Bard College, studying voice with Lorraine Nubar, and working with Kayo Iwama, Dawn Upshaw and Jennifer Ringo. Katarzyna graduated summa cum laude from the University of Ottawa, earning her Bachelor of Music degree, where she began her vocal training with Joanne Kolomyjec and Ingemar Korjus. She completed her Master’s Degree in Opera at the University of Toronto, where she studied voice with Darryl Edwards. Katarzyna was an apprentice artist with Opera Lyra Ottawa, with whom she had her professional operatic debut in December 2005 as Hansel in Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel. Katarzyna was an invited fellow of the Steans Music Institute at the 2014 Ravinia Festival, where she performed in several recitals and worked with many world-renowned coaches. She is also one of four guest vocal artists to perform in Ottawa in June 2008, 2009 and 2012, as part of the National Arts Centre Summer Music Festival, in a special vocal workshop with soprano Benita Valente. Katarzyna participated in the International Vocal Arts Institute’s festival at Virginia Tech University in July 2011, where she performed numerous concerts of art song and operatic excerpts to the Virginia public. She was awarded the Marc and Eva Stern Fellowship 2010, and was one of the Stern Fellow Singers at “Songfest at Pepperdine” in Malibu California in June 2010. In the summer of 2008 she was invited to participate in the exclusive Academy of Villecroze, France, where she worked with Dalton Baldwin and Lorraine Nubar, a relationship she has nurtured since her undergraduate studies, through the Academie de Nice, France, and the Foliage Art Song Festival in Vermont.
Notable awards and distinctions include the 2016 first prize from the Susan and Virginia Hawk Vocal Competition, the 2015 first prize from the Marcella Kochańska Sembrich Vocal Competition, the Vivian Asfar Memorial Award for Vocal Excellence, the William and Phyllis Waters Graduating Award from the University of Toronto, New England Regional Finalist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and generous scholarships from the Friends of the National Arts Center, the International Vocal Arts Institute, the Marc and Eva Stern Foundation, the University of Ottawa, the University of Toronto, Bard College and the Canadian Opera Volunteer Committee.