April 07, 2021

Spotlight on Nicole Cabell

In the finals of any music competition, there’s usually a moment when you just know that a particular artist has clinched it. That happened in 2005 at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, one of the most prestigious of all vocal competitions. Only a few weeks after concluding her tenure at The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, Nicole Cabell represented the U.S. and was in the final round of five singers competing for the coveted Main Prize. She’d already sung exquisitely in her first two arias, but then, when she came to her last piece—Teresa’s exhilarating aria from Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini—she simply took wing and sailed. At the end, it was clear that a new star had arrived. Shortly thereafter, there she was onstage, accepting the winner’s trophy from the legendary Dame Joan Sutherland.

Hot on the heels of her Cardiff victory, Cabell was in the recording studio. With Lyric’s own Sir Andrew Davis on the podium with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, she recorded her first CD, entitled simply “Soprano.” It won the Georg Solti Orphée d’Or and Germany’s Echo Klassik award, further confirmation that the judges at Cardiff had indefinitely made the right choice.

Nicole Cabell as Adina with Giuseppe Filianoti in Lyric's 2009/10 production of Donizetti's The Elixir of Love

There has been a lot of glory for Cabell since then. She’s established herself as one of the leading lyric sopranos of her generation, with successes in many of the key roles for her voice type. Several of them have been at Lyric, such as Musetta/La bohème (very much a signature role internationally in her early career, which she also recorded and filmed), Pamina/The Magic Flute, Adina/The Elixir of Love, Leïla/The Pearl Fishers, and Micaëla/Carmen. She returned to Lyric most recently as a glamorous, luminous-voiced Hanna/The Merry Widow.

Great houses have welcomed Cabell, from the Metropolitan Opera and San Francisco Opera (where she was a ravishing Giulietta/I Capuleti e I Montecchi opposite Joyce DiDonato) to the Opéra National de Paris (where she recently sang her first Mimì/La bohème), Geneva’s Grand Théâtre (she dazzled critics and audiences there in her role debut as Handel’s Alcina), the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu, and the Deutsche Oper Berlin. She’s also starred on CD in the title role of a very rarely heard Donizetti work, Imelda de’Lambertazzi.

Nicole Cabell as Micaëla with Brandon Jovanovich as Don José in Lyric's 2010/11 production of Bizet's Carmen

Cabell is also one of today’s premier concert artists and recitalists. In music ranging from Mozart and Beethoven to Mahler to Poulenc and Barber, she’s earned acclaim for performances with the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, and many other important ensembles internationally. Recitals have been essential to her career from the start, with appearances in many important venues, from New York and Toronto to London and Tokyo.

Cabell’s luminous performances hold the banner high for American singing, and for Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Nicole Cabell offers a testimonial for the Ryan Opera Center Gala here.

Header photo: Stepane Degout and Nicole Cabell in Lyric's The Magic Flute. Credit: Dan Rest
All other photos: Dan Rest