Biography – Classical Music

Photo: Tom W. Bertolotti

Polish-Canadian-American mezzo-soprano Katarzyna Sadej was born in Wrocław, Poland. Her international, eclectic singing career spans concert, opera, film, chamber music, oratorio, recital and voice-over performance. Her voice has also captivated the attention of living composers and she has performed many world premieres.  As a soloist, she has performed at numerous prestigious venues, including the National Arts Center Ottawa, L.A. Opera, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Carnegie Hall, Jacaranda Music in L.A., the National Theater in Taipei, the Nuits Blanches Festival in Toronto, San Diego Opera, the Cartagena International Music Festival, the Chicago Philharmonic, the Music and Beyond Festival, the Ravinia Festival as a Steans Fellow, Dream Orchestra Los Angeles, the 2012 London Olympics, the Ojai International Music Festival, Le Salon de Musiques Concert Series in Los Angeles, the Montenegrin National Theater, the Lviv (Ukraine) and Banatul (Romania) Philharmonics, the Music Biennale Zagreb, the Bard Summerscape Music Festival, the Sembrich Opera Museum at Lake George, the Palm Springs Opera Guild, the Berkshire Bach Society, the Los Angeles Modjeska Club, Opera Lyra Ottawa, and Harvard University, among others. 

As a seasoned vocal coach, she offers vocal courses for individuals and groups, while still maintaining a performance career. Notably, she recently returned to Los Angeles’ Jacaranda Music series to perform Arnold Schoenberg’s “The Book of the Hanging Gardens” alongside pianist Steven Vanhauwaert. She made her debut with Jacaranda the previous season singing the mezzo-soprano solo in Veronika Krausas’ Le Théâtre du Soleil. She also recently performed with concert pianist Wojciech Kocyan in Los Angeles in a concert presented by the Paderewski Music Society and Loyola Marymount University featuring songs by Dvorak, Szymanowski, Duparc, Debussy, and others. 

Katarzyna spent the COVID pandemic developing her Earth Singing Project, which entails her singing live in natural wild locations, celebrating the beauty of our fragile planet, and experimenting with the natural acoustics of these environments. The resulting Earth Singing music videos, featuring her own videography, and with pre-recorded piano by Canadian pianist Nadia Boucher, can be seen via her YouTube channel

Highlights from just before the pandemic include Cherubino in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro with conductor Alexander Shelley and the National Arts Center Orchestra in Ottawa; featured artist in San Diego Opera’s La Noche Española singing excerpts as Carmen; and a solo appearance alongside the Dream Orchestra Los Angeles, in prima ballerina Petra Conti’s show “I’m Gonna Live Forever”. In 2019, she released a two-volume recording of the Witold Lutosławski “Derwid” songs with pianist Barbara Bochenek in Los Angeles. The recordings, featuring all 33 of the rare songs, are available on all music streaming platforms.

Katarzyna is the featured singer and performer portraying The Lady in the Painting in the upcoming documentary feature film “Our Lady of the Kitchen”, which was delayed in production due to the COVID pandemic. Other COVID-disrupted engagements included the title role in La Tragédie de Carmen with COSI Connection and Concerts at 100 in Toronto, Canada; a recital tour of Atlantic Canada with concert pianist Daniel Vnukowski; her debut in China with Opera Chengdu; and several recitals with various concert series.

Katarzyna has sung many world premieres and has had over a dozen new works composed for her. To read more about Katarzyna’s new music career highlights, click here.

Katarzyna has also garnered credits in modeling, acting, composing and voice-over work. Since 2018, she is in a collaboration as a model for fashion designer Ewelina Barlak, who designs Katarzyna’s concert attire. Her many projects, creative activities and collaborations can be explored via the Various Projects Page.

Photo: Andre Surma

Katarzyna’s operatic roles include the title role of Bizet’s Carmen and La Tragédie de Carmen; Prince Charming and Charlotte in Massenet’s operas Cendrillon and Werther; River Voice in the world premiere of The Industry’s (L.A.) HOPSCOTCH; the Virgin in the world premiere of Paola Prestini’s Oceanic Verses (premiered at Carnegie Hall); the leading role of Isabelle Eberhart in the world premiere of Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar; ; the Page of Herodias in Strauss’ Salome;  the title roles in Handel’s Ariodante 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; Giannetta in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore; and, Suzuki and Kate Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. 

Katarzyna’s concert / oratorio credits include the alto solos in Wojciech Kilar’s Missa Pro Pace, 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 11Purcell’s Rejoice in the Lord Always, and Stravinsky’s Les Noces. She has also performed both the alto and second soprano solos in J.S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor. Katarzyna has performed many newly composed cantatas and oratorios, including several world premieres of these works, which are highlighted on her world premieres and new music page.  

Katarzyna graduated summa cum laude from the University of Ottawa, earning her Bachelor of Music degree. She holds two Master degrees, the first in Opera Performance from the University of Toronto; and, the second from Dawn Upshaw’s Vocal Arts Program at Bard College. After completing her degree at the University of Toronto, she was awarded the prestigious William & Phyllis Waters Graduating Award.  During her training years, Katarzyna participated in the Opera Lyra Ottawa young artist program; the Steans Music Institute at the Ravinia Festival; the National Arts Centre Summer Music Festival workshop with Benita Valente; the International Vocal Arts Institute at Virginia Tech University; the Marc and Eva Stern Fellowship at Songfest; the Academy of Villecroze with Dalton Baldwin and Lorraine Nubar; the Academy of Nice; 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.