Mezzo-soprano Marla Volovna made her operatic debut in Besancon, France as Adalgisa in Bellini's Norma. Reviews raved, “A superb Adalgise, who gave power and dignity to the role;” “In the role of Adalgisa, which demands important vocal and scenic qualities, Marla Volovna was perfect.” “This beautiful artist, who has an imperial silhouette and demeanor, revealed a femininity and power of emotion…”
Following this auspicious beginning, Ms. Volovna went on to sing leading operatic roles all over France and Italy. Roles include Olga and Filipievna in Eugene Onegin, Taven in Mireille, Fenena in Nabucco. At Dublin Opera, Ms. Volovna performed the title role in Bononcini's Astarto,and Nancy in Fowtow's Martha.
In the United States, she continued to wow audiences with her performance in roles such as Baba from Stravinsky's Rake's Progress, the Mother (Amahl and the Night Visitors), the title role in Carmen, the Witch (Hansel and Gretel), Elvira (Don Giovanni), Second Lady (Die Zauberflöte), and Adah in Victor Herbert's Naughty Marietta. Ms. Volovna also acted off-Broadway, with theatrical leads including the title role in Euripides’s Medea.
Title role - Carmen, Renaissance Opera
Ms. Volovna later toured Russia and Ukraine as Fricka (Das Rheingold, Die Wallkyre), Erda (Die Wallkyrie), Walltraute (Gotterdamerung), the title role in Carmen, Adalgisa (Norma), Pauline in Tschaikowsky’s Pique Dame and Marfa in Mussorgsky’s Kovanschina.
Ms. Volovna’s concert repertoire includes the Verdi Requiem in Paris and Bordeaux, radio broadcasts of Mahler’s Kindertoten Lieder in France and Italy, and Darius Milhaud’s Return of the Prodigal Son for the RAI, Italian radio. Locally, she was a frequent soloist with Apollo Opera in California, specializing in the late romantic repertoire. Ms. Volovna also performed the Brahms Alto Rhapsody at the San Francisco Conservatory with the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony under the direction of Daniel Canosa. She has sung Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with Apollo Arts and with Auburn Symphony at the Mondavi Center , as well as appearing at Grace Cathedral to sing “Angel’s Farewell” from Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius.
A native of New York City, Marla Volovna received her MFA in Opera Direction from Indiana University. In 1989 she co-founded Apollo Opera, situated in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California. From 1989-2003, Ms. Volovna acted as the main stage director for Apollo Opera, which featured original productions spanning the operatic repertoire.
Ms. Volovna’s first season opened with Gluck’s Orfeo, using only one professional singer, Zoila Munoz (also the company’s Artistic Director); yet the production was singled out for a prize, reviewed by the Sacramento Bee and called “magically ethereal.” It was aired on public television in Indiana where she also directed Darius Milhaud’s Medee. Gradually the company was able to hire excellent Bay Area professionals for the leading roles, and under Volovna’s direction the company continued to receive extraordinary acclaim. The many operas Ms. Volovna directed for the company include Orfeo, Ormindo, The Magic Flute, Cosi Fan Tutte, Don Pasquale, Carmen, Madame Butterfly, Rigoletto, Dido and Aeneas, and Amahl and the Night Visitors.
During this time, Ms. Volovna was hired as a lecturer and stage director at Utah State University in Logan, UT. The Eccles Theatre, which houses the Utah Festival Opera, was christened under Volovna’s direction in collaboration with Michael Ballam, Artistic Director of the Utah Festival Opera, with excerpts from The Merry Widow and La Traviata. Ms. Volovna was also a member of the Faculty at California State University, Sacramento, where her undergraduate students achieved awards at the Metropolitan Opera Competition, among others.
Internationally Ms. Volovna has given master classes in Acting for Singers and Acting the Aria at Shanghai Opera and the Opera Institute of Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, as well as being on the Voice Faculty at the Conservatory of Draincy in France.
Most recently, Ms. Volovna gave master classes and directed young professionals in baroque opera scenes from Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, L'Orfeo and L'Incoronazione di Poppea by Monteverdi, and Purcell's Dido and Aeneas for the program Complete Package Performer. Other bay area instruction and master classes include CSU-Chico and UC Davis, Mayflower Chorus (San Rafael), Occidental Community Choir (Santa Rosa), and Renaissance Choir (Sacramento). Ms. Volovna also taught Opera Appreciation as a guest lecturer at OLLI - SFSU.
Marla Volovna directs John Blow's Venus and Adonis Marin Baroque, CA -- 2014 Venus: Elsa Nicol & Helene Zindarsian; Adonis: Nik Nockley; Cupid: Rosemary Beecher Bryant