Lea Katherine Shaw
An American in Scotland, Lea Shaw is forging her path as one of the most promising young voices in classical music today. A formidable talent, she is cultivating her skills as an emerging artist and collaborative performer.
Here you can find her biography and future engagements, listen, look, and get in contact!
Fergus Hall, 2019
A natural on stage, and a name to watch.
- Opera Magazine
Fresh and direct.
- Terrace North
She virtually stole the show - gorgeous voice, brilliant acting, and tremendous personality: Watch out for her, she's going far!
-- Scots Gay Arts
- Vox Carnyx
Lea Shaw...grows more confident in every role she undertakes.
Lea Shaw's gorgeously sung Zerlina makes it entirely unsurprising that...Masetto is so jealous.
- The Times
James Glossop, 2022
Fergus Hall, 2019
Lea Shaw is an award-winning Black/BIPOC Mezzo-soprano from Colorado. She now lives and works in Scotland as an Emerging Artist for Scottish Opera. An alumnus of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, she received her BMus with Distinction of the First Class, a Masters of Music, and a Masters of Opera from the Alexander Gibson Opera School, with the guidance of Helen Lawson, Susan Bullock and Rachel Nicholls. At the age of 25, she is among the youngest to have graduated from this degree pathway.
An accomplished soloist in opera, concert and improvisation, she has performed both locally and worldwide with repertoire spanning from Handel and Bach’s oratorios and operas and the works of Mozart, Rossini, Purcell, Strauss, and Humperdinck, to the works of Britten, Korngold, Bernstein, Vaughan Williams, Ravel, Turnage, Eastman, and Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire and Maxwell Davies’ The Medium. She has worked with Marin Alsop, Martyn Brabbins, John Butt, Sir Andrew Davies, Sir Thomas Allen, and Dame Janet Baker, and has created works with Stuart Macrae and James Macmillan in close collaboration.
Throughout her time at the Alexander Gibson Opera School she performed the roles of Second Witch (Dido and Aneas), Bianca (The Rape of Lucretia), Polly Peachum (Die Dreigroschenoper), Mère Jéanne (Les Dialogues des Carmélites), and prepared the roles of Sesto (Giulio Cesare in Egitto), Minskwoman (Flight) and L’Enfant (L’Enfant et les Sortilèges). As a chorus member, Lea’s repertoire includes Sir John In Love, The Rake’s Progress (Edinburgh International Festival), Hansel and Gretel (St. Magnus International Festival) Die Fledermaus, Street Scene, Dido and Aneas, The Fiery Angel (Scottish Opera), Elektra, Salome, and Götterdämmerung (EIF). In scenes, her roles include Fidalma (Il Marito Segredo) Third Maiden (Elektra), Dorabella (Cosi fan Tutti) Idiamante (Idomeneo), Olga (Eugene Onegin) Tisbe (La Cenerentola) Madame Popova (The Bear), Isabella (L’Italiana in Algeri), and Dorothée (Cendrillon). She has covered the roles of Emma Jones (Street Scene) and Dido (Dido and Aneas). In her 2021/22 season with Scottish Opera, she travelled Scotland with their Opera Highlights tour (2021), and appeared on the main stage as Hermia (A Midsummer Night's Dream) The Neighbour (Mavra), and Zerlina (Don Giovanni). Upcoming roles with Scottish Opera include Paquette (Candide), Niña (Ainadamar), Suor Zelatrice (Suor Angelica), and Mercedes (Carmen).
Lea has appeared as a masterclass participant under Thomas Quastoff, Dame Janet Baker, Roger Vignoles, Nicky Spence, Susan Bullock, and Giselle Allan, and as soloist in Serenade To Music (Vaughan Williams) at the 2017 Leeds Lieder Festival. She has also performed works by Graham Haire at the 2017 ANIMUSIC Congress in Porto, Portugal. She is a recurring soloist in concert and oratorio, both in classical and baroque and in more contemporary works, having performed as soloist in the English premier of Erwin Schulloff's lost oratorio of the Communist Manifesto with the University of Glasgow in April 2018, soloist in Duke Ellington's Sacred Service as part of the 2017 West End Festival, the Chichester Psalms (EIF), and as featured soloist in Handel’s Messiah, the Bach Magnificat, and Haydn’s Nelson Mass across the UK. She has also performed as a soloist in recurring relationships with the Red Note Ensemble, the Ye Cronies Opera Society, the St. Magnus Festival, the Westbourne Music Series, Amnesty International, and has performed concerts with the Head of Opera, as well as the Principal, of the RCS. She has performed for the Royal Family.
Lea’s awards include the Jean Highgate Competition (highly Commended, 2014), the Kathleen Ferrier Bursary Competition (representing RCS), the Governor’s Recital Prize for Chamber music (winner, 2017), the Leonie Kayser Prize for Singing (winner, 2017), the Norma Grieg French Song Prize and Ramsay Calder Debussy Prize (winner 2017), the Hugh S. Robertson Prize for Scots Song (second place, 2018), the Ye Cronies Opera Competition (Highly commended, 2020) and the Clonter Opera prize (commended, 2021). She received the 2014 Winnie Busfield Prize for Singing, the 2018 Musicians Company Silver Medal, support from the Sybil Tutton Opera Award, the Maurice Taylor Opera Scholarship, and is a Dewar Arts Awardee.
A sought-after contemporary musician and collaborative artist/storyteller, she is passionate about the ways in which music can instigate social change and start conversations about the problems we face in contemporary life. She collaborates regularly with living composers and artists to create new works and installations on these subjects. She creates immersive performance experiences that highlight the universal communicative nature of the human voice and draw light to the lesser spoken about aspects of living in the Anthropocene. Taking up the mantle of a role model for future generations of young Black and BIPOC musicians, she strives to make contemporary music and opera accessible to all.
Paquette - Candide - Scottish Opera: 11,13,14,16,18 & 20 August (live at No. 40)
On Sonorous Seas - Exhibition: 8 July - 27 August (An Tobar, Mull)
Niña - Ainadamar - Scottish Opera: 29 Oct, 2 & 5 November (Theatre Royal, Glasgow)
8, 10, & 12 November (Festival Theatre, Edinburgh)
Suor Zelatrice - Suor Angelica - Scottish Opera: 11, 15 &18 March (Theatre Royal, Glasgow)
22 & 25 March (Festival Theatre, Edinburgh)
La Ciesca - Gianni Schicci - Scottish Opera Access performances: 16 March (Theatre Royal, Glasgow)
23 March (Festival Theatre, Edinburgh)
Mercedes - Carmen - Scottish Opera: 12,14,16,18, & 20 May (Theatre Royal, Glasgow)
23, 25, & 27 May (Eden Court, Inverness)
1 & 3 June (His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen)
9, 11, 13, 15, &17 June (Festival Theatre, Edinburgh)
Fergus Hall, 2020
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Lea Shaw, Mezzo Soprano