Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and several prizes at the Hans Gabor Belvedere Competition, 25 years old Cuban-American soprano Elena Villalón is already attracting major industry attention. A recent alumna of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, her engagements this season include Susanna Le nozze di Figaro at Houston Grand Opera, Gretel Hansel und Gretel at Dallas Opera, the Queen of Sheba Solomon for an international tour with The English Concert and Harry Bicket and in Iole in a new Barrie Kosky production of Hercules as well as Atalanta in Xerxes, both at Opera Frankfurt where she is now a member of the ensemble. Engagements next season include her Metropolitan Opera debut as Amore Orfeo ed Euridice, her return to Santa Fe with The Righteous, Messiah and Brahms Requiem with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as well as starring as Susanna in a new production of Le Nozze di Figaro in Frankfurt.
Recent engagements include house and role debuts at The Dallas Opera as Tina Flight, at Austin Opera as Susanna Le nozze di Figaro, Nannetta Falstaff with the Santa Fe Opera, as well as continued collaborations with Houston Grand Opera, where she created the role of Amy in the world premiere of Joel Thompson’s The Snowy Day and debuted the role of Juliette Roméo et Juliette.
In concert she appeared as the emerging artist recitalist with Vocal Arts DC, collaborating with Kathleen Kelly at the Kennedy Center, as the soprano soloist in Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Poulenc’s Gloria with the Grand Rapids Symphony and Handel’s Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day with Boston Baroque. Passionate about art song and concert repertoire, Villalón has spent summers at the Tanglewood Music Center and at Songfest in Los Angeles as a Colburn Fellow. At Tanglewood, performance highlights included the soprano solo in Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero, Max in Oliver Knussen’s Where the Wild Things Are, the world premiere of Michael Gandolfi’s In America, concerts of Bach cantatas conducted by John Harbison, and concerts and recitals curated by Dawn Upshaw, Stephanie Blythe, Margo Garrett, and Sanford Sylvan. She has also appeared with Cincinnati Song Initiative and at the Rienzi Museum of Fine Arts as part of the studio recital series, and was featured in a concert of baroque cantatas and arias with the Mercury Chamber Orchestra.
As a Studio member of the Houston Grand Opera she performed in digital collaborations including David T. Little’s Vinkensport, The Snowy Day, and Hansel und Gretel, as well as a digital Studio Showcase, performing in scenes as Sophie Werther, the title role in Lulu, and Poppea L'incoronazione di Poppea. In performance at HGO, she performed the role of Inés in Kevin Newbery’s new production of La Favorite, La Mujer in the world premiere of Javier Martinez's El Milagro de Recuerdo, and understudied Pamina Die Zauberflöte and Michal Saul.
A native of Austin, Texas, Elena Villalón is an alumnus of the University of Cincinnati, College Conservatory of Music, and made her professional debut as a Gerdine Young Artist at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, where she performed the role of Barbarina Le Nozze di Figaro and later returned for Lauretta Gianni Schicchi. A 2019 Grand Finals winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, she recently took home several prizes in the Hans Gabor Belvedere Competition, including 2nd Prize, Audience Prize, CS Prize, and the Wil Keune Prize, a 2022 Sara Tucker Career Grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation, and the Richard F. Gold career grant from Houston Grand Opera.