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Kirsten C. Kunkle
Charlotte Corday / Choreographer / Librettist / Stage Director
Saturday Matinée and Sunday Evening
Dr. Kirsten C. Kunkle (Librettist; Stage Director; Choreographer; Charlotte Corday) is a voting citizen of the Mvskoke (Muscogee) Nation lauded as the leading Native American soprano in today’s classical music world. She has been hailed as an outstanding singing actress with a voice that has been described as beautiful, ethereal, powerful, fiery, and bewitching. Kirsten commissioned and premiered sixteen original compositions, including one of her own, based upon the poetry of her ancestor and highly-acclaimed poet of the Native American Muscogee Nation, Alexander Posey. Her recordings are collected at the Library of Congress, the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian Institution (NMAI), and the Merkel Area Museum in Merkel, TX. Kirsten is included on the list of Classical Native American Artists and Musicians at the Smithsonian Institution’s NMAI and on the Molto Native Music list of performers.
She was featured as a composer and soloist for the Circle of Resilience concert, with Intermountain Opera Bozeman, in May, 2021. In 2022, she was commissioned and premiered her new art song “Reclaim the Land” at Yellowstone National Park’s 150th anniversary, which has been featured on Yellowstone Public Radio (a branch of NPR) and BBC Radio. In 2023, she was commissioned to write the monodrama for voice, piano, and violin, “Witch of November in the White City” for “Chicago Currents: Celebrating Chicago’s Waterways,” which served as her performance, dramaturgy, poetry, and composition debut with Chicago Fringe Opera.
Among her favorite roles in the standard operatic repertoire are Agathe in Der Freischütz, the title role in Suor Angelica, Magda and the Foreign Woman in The Consul, Mimì in La bohème, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro, Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Iolanta and Brigitta in Iolanta, Zemfira in Aleko, Lisa in Pique Dame, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Laetitia in The Old Maid and the Thief, the Witch in Hansel and Gretel, and Dido in Dido and Aeneas. She has an Honorable Mention for The American Prize in Voice – Professional Art Song and Oratorio Division (Women), as well as being a two-time semi-finalist for The American Prize in Opera (Women). She made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2014, and in the same year she was the Pennsylvania District National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Award winner. Kirsten won second place in the Roschel Vocal Competition in 2015.
She made her solo European debut with the Sofia Philharmonic in the role of Arabella in Johann Strauss II’s Blindekuh. She is also a NAXOS recording artist for the world premiere recording of Blindekuh, which was released in March 2020 to extraordinary reviews. Her most recent recording was debuting the role of Charlotte Corday in the world premiere of “Girondines,” which is a collaboration between Kirsten (libretto) and Sarah Van Sciver (music), available on all streaming services. Kirsten will be premiering the role of Ipp’osi’ in the first opera written entirely in the Chickasaw language, “Shell Shaker” by Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate. With the Philadelphia Opera Collective, she created leading roles in numerous world premieres, including Edith Standen in Shadow House, Annie Jump Cannon in Jump the Moon, Edgar Allan Poe/The Poet in Opera Macabre: Edgar Allan Poe, and Dr. Frankenstein in By You That Made Me, Frankenstein. She also created the role of Space Mad Woman in Toowhopera by Sorrell Hayes. She has recorded extensively through the Comic Opera Guild, specializing in the works of Victor Herbert.
Kirsten served as opera stage director for four years at Lincoln University, the nation’s first degree-granting HBCU. Prior to her time at Lincoln, she directed opera scenes at Shorter University, for which she commissioned the work “The Tribunal” by composer Bradley Harris. Favorite productions directed include Treemonisha, Hansel and Gretel, Man of La Mancha, The Telephone, The Medium, and Kismet.
Kirsten is the proud Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Wilmington Concert Opera, a women and minority led opera company in Wilmington, Delaware. She is a proud graduate of Bowling Green State University and University of Michigan.