Mariya Kaganskaya

Opera Singer and Teacher

Mariya’s Music Story

Mariya was born in Russia and grew up in San Francisco. While in school, she was part of the San Francisco Girls Chorus, which gave her a rigorous musical education as well as performance experience; with that ensemble, she toured in the US and internationally, and performed regularly with the San Francisco Symphony. She attended the University of California, San Diego, where she studied music and found herself drawn to the practice room every day as she fell more and more in love with opera. From there, she attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, earning a Master of Music and Postgraduate Diploma in Vocal Performance, studying with Catherine Cook. After completing her education, Mariya trained and performed in top Young Artist Programs, including those at the Santa Fe Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and Arizona Opera.

Since then, Mariya has had a fantastic career as an opera singer and has received just a few awards, including…

Featured soloist on the GRAMMY winner for Best Opera Album in 2019, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs with the Santa Fe Opera
First Place winner: Lois Alba Aria Competition (2019)
First Place: St. Petersburg Opera Guild Competition (2019)
First Place: Eastern Region of the NATS Artist Awards (2019)
First Place: Gershwin International Music Competition (2017)
First Place: Pacific Musical Society Competition (2014)
Second Place: Henry and Maria Holt Memorial Competition (2020)
Third Place: Edward M. Murray International Competition of Voice (2020)
Third Place: Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition (2020)
Third Place: East Bay Opera League Competition (2016)
Winner: Bel Canto Vocal Scholarship Foundation Competition (2019)
Winner: Butler Opera International Competition (2018)
Winner: Pasadena Opera Guild Competition (2016)
Winner: San Francisco District of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (2015)
Encouragement Award recipient: James Toland Vocal Arts Competition (2018)
Encouragement Award recipient: Western Region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council (2015)

And done many performances. To name a few…
Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro,
Charlotte and Käthchen in Werther,
Paula in Florencia en el Amazonas,
Page in Salome,
Mrs Rockefeller/Natalia in Frida,
Tisbe in La Cenerentola,
Suzuki in Madame Butterfly,
Third Wood Sprite in Rusalka,
Olga in Eugene Onegin,
Hostess in Boris Godunov,
Marta in Iolanta,
Dorabella in Così fan tutte,
Ottavia in L’incoronazione di Poppea,
the title role of Serse,
Mezzo soloist in Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, Handel’s Messiah, and others
Recitals of art song repertoire spanning 300 years

She is passionate about teaching alongside her performing career, and has a super fan in the form of her dog Eddie, who has been featured in quite a few virtual performances during the Covid pandemic and is eager to join Mariya when she is back on stage, sometime soon!

"A healthy vocal technique is fundamental to singing in any style, and if opera is your passion, then absolutely yes!"

Who is your musical inspiration?

I would say Paul McCartney! I have never seen a more dynamic performer in any genre.

Why do you teach and perform?

The greatest moments for me are when a student feels free to express themselves and they get into the “flow” and thoroughly enjoy what they are doing. It is an honour to teach singing because I can help students find and use their voices in a healthy way and to facilitate their journey towards expressing themselves and connecting with the world.

I always ask people what makes them love music when they hear it, and what then inspires them to express themselves in this way. The inspiration to learn and make music ultimately comes from within, and part of my job is to remind you to check in there and see what you find.

I perform because I believe wholeheartedly that music has the potential to change the world for the better. Music can help people understand themselves and the world. It can inspire and motivate us. For me, opera does this especially well. At its best, opera encapsulates the depths of human emotion through timeless stories and transcendent music, and I feel so lucky that I get to be a part of it.

What have been some of your highlights during your career so far?

A couple of my favourite performing experiences are performing the role of Teacher in the world premiere of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs at the Santa Fe Opera and singing with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra with the iSing Festival. The atmosphere in the audience at both of those performances was electric, and that made them unforgettable. Some of my favourite opera roles to perform have been Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro at Florida Grand Opera, Tisbe in La Cenerentola at Arizona Opera, and Dorabella in Così fan tutte at the San Francisco Conservatory; what can I say, I love a good comedy! I also enjoy giving recitals and performing in chamber ensembles, and I have to say that singing concerts online has also been a fantastic experience!

Can anyone learn how to sing opera?

I think anyone can learn to sing classical music. A healthy vocal technique is fundamental to singing in any style, and if opera is your passion, then absolutely yes!

Who has been your most inspiring teacher?

I’ve had so many! My team now is the absolute greatest; they’ve kept me inspired to learn music and grow as a performer even during the pandemic, and I’m immensely grateful for all of them.

What music would you recommend someone listens to learn more about Opera?

Massenet’s opera Werther

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