Biography

Photo by Jeannie Liautaud

Soprano Karen Kanakis is hailed for her fine vocal technique and dramatic flair. “Her voice and her stage presence are a delight,” wrote a critic of her performance as Sybil in the world premiere of Hans Schaeuble’s Dorian Gray. Kanakis’ bright-timbered powerful voice conveys rich emotion, displays brilliant agility, and soars to a thrilling high extension, making her ideal in both the bel canto repertoire and that of the Italian spinto soprano, particularly Verdi. 

Kanakis’ operatic credits include Abigaille in Nabucco, Giorgetta in Il Tabarro, Alice Ford in Falstaff, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, Violetta in La Traviata, and Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus.  Though she began her career singing lighter repertoire, Ms. Kanakis’ voice is now most at home in fuller soprano roles such as Tosca, Leonora (Trovatore and La forza del destino), Aïda, Cio-Cio-San, Ellen Orford, Elisabeth (Tannhäuser), Agathe, and Donizetti’s Three Queens.   

Kanakis with baritone Jacob Lassetter. Photo by Jeannie Liautaud.

Ms. Kanakis has been a featured soloist with symphony organizations performing the Verdi Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Brahms’ Ein Deutches Requiem, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Handel’s Messiah, both the Mozart and Fauré Requiem, and Orff’s Carmina Burana.  She is a frequently sought-after solo recitalist, and made her Carnegie Hall debut in the Weill Recital Hall in a joint recital program with her husband, baritone Jacob Lassetter.  A frequent performer of modern compositions, she was Ingram in Eric Chasalow’s The Puzzlemaster, The American Tourist in Harold Blumenfeld's Borgia Infami,  and can be heard on American composer Brooke Joyce’s CD “Waves of Stone” on the Innova label. 

A District Winner and Region Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Ms. Kanakis performed as an Apprentice Artist with both the Des Moines Metro Opera and the Utah Festival Opera Company, where she was a featured soloist on many orchestral concerts and on a "Music and the Spoken Word" television broadcast performing "Hear ye, Israel" from Elijah at the Salt Lake City Mormon Tabernacle.