“Ola Rafało proved to be a mezzo to watch, with a strong Stride la Vampa” said Anne Midgette, for the Washington Post, when Ola was featured as Azucena and Amneris, in scenes at Kennedy Center. Ola has laid the foundation of her career as a dramatic mezzo, having performed most of Verdi's iconic operas. She started with Fenena in Nabucco (Baltimore Lyric Opera, Opera Carolina), “Rafało produced the best singing of the evening, in spite of her role being smaller. "– L. Gazzola of Opera Lively. Ola continued that trajectory as Azucena in Il Trovatore with Opera Forza, and Maddalena in Rigoletto with Gulfshore Opera, as well as The Verdi Requiem with Gulfshore, under Maestro Paul Nadler. This 2023 season, Ola will debut the role of Ulrica in Un Ballo in Maschera with Opera Project Columbus, after a successful debut of the role of Brangaene in Wagner's Tristan und Isolde with the Eugene Symphony last season.
Ola started her mezzo career in the title role of La Tragedie de Carmen with Syracuse Opera, making a big splash in “Opera Today” and leading to subsequent performances of the Bizet version with: New Jersey Verismo Opera, Gulfshore Opera, the Lyric Orchestra, and in highlights with the Pacific Symphony. Ola debuted the role of Charlotte in Werther with Martha Cardona Opera, at the Kaufman Center, with natural ease, a role that she hopes to perform many more times. Other notable opera roles have included Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana with Opera Angelo in New York City, and La Frugola in Il Tabarro, with Opera Festival of Chicago. Ola continues to establish her unique artistry on the world's stages. She has sung highlights from Samson et Dalilah in many galas, performed the Mother in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, with Orlando Opera, and even received an award from UNESCO for her performance as Alkmene in the Olympic Torch, (a modern Greek opera by P. Karousos). Recently created the role of Diskana in a new opera "Second Sight", by Jessie Downs, with Nickel City Opera and the Sotto Voce ensemble. Ola sang Fricka in Die Walküre, and Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, with the Lyric Orchestra.
Ola enjoys a rich performing environment living in the Chicagoland area, and has debuted with Chicago Opera theatre as the Old Gypsy in Rachmaninov's Aleko, and the Wagner society of America in recital. Ola has been accepted for the upcoming Dame Myrna Hess Memorial concert series in Chicago. Ola joined the soloist quartet for Beethoven's 9thwith the Evanston Symphony
last season, and performed the roles of the Mother, Chinese tea cup, shepherd, and dragonfly, in Ravel's L'enfant et les sortileges with Florentine Opera in Milwaukee WI.
Ola adores chamber music and concert repertoire, and is a classical instrumentalist at heart. Her performances include Carnegie Hall as the Alto soloist in Vivaldi’s Gloria, as well as De Falla’s El Amor Brujo with the Pacific Symphony. She has performed many galas, and enjoyed singing with the Springfield Symphony, New Jersey Symphony and others. Last season she performed the Brahms two songs for voice and viola, as well as excerpts from Bach St. Mathew Passion, and Mahler songs, with the Lakeside Artists Guild. Next year she will return to the Eugene Symphony to sing Mahler's Second. She was honored to perform the alto role in the American premier of Poniatowski’s Mass, with the Paderewski Symphony, an important work of Polish history.
Rafało carries dual passports for the U.S. and Poland, and speaks fluent English, Italian, and Polish. She is a natural interpreter of slavic repertoire, in roles such as Olga in Eugene Onegin, Konchakovna in Prince Igor, Pollina in Queen of Spades, Marfa in Khovanschina, and Jadwiga in Straszny Dwor. Starting from the age of 3, Ola studied in Polish folk dancing and singing, creating a musical template from which to interpret all the slavic music with roots in the tradition of folk music.
Ola was honored to receive the Maria Callas Prize in 2019, at the 2nd annual Giulio Fregosi Concorso di Lirica in Voghera, as well as the Kitakiushu prize, and the Premio di Teatro Bibiena. She is the 2nd prize winner of the 2017 Altamura-Caruso competition. In 2015 she won Fourth Prize and the Audience choice award from the Young Patronesses of Opera Competition. She has been awarded the Giulietta Simionato career grant from the Inter-city Arts foundation. In 2009, she was awarded the audience prize at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Southeast chapter. In 2008, she was awarded Grand Prize of the Elgin Opera competition and First Prize of the Sherrill Milnes Opera Idol competition. Miss Rafało was an apprentice artist at Sarasota Opera, where she received the Leo M.Rogers award, as well as a young artist at Opera Tampa, and Palm Beach Opera.
In 2020 Ola was scheduled to make several important debuts, that have since been postponed. Post lock-down engagements that will happen at some point in the near future include: debut with the Israel Philharmonic as Emilia in Verdi’s Otello under Maestro Gianandrea Noseda, (Telaviv), Mamma Lucia in Cavalleria Rusticana at the Teatro Voghera Italy, for the Ultapadum Festival, followed by a concert at the Maria Callas Festival in Sirmione, concerts in Belgium in, with Mythos Opera festival, concert at Teatro Bibiena di Mantova. At some point in the near future, she will be traveling to Izumo, Japan to sing the role of Santuzza in the world premiere of the newly discovered manuscript of an unabridged version of Mascagni's masterpiece: Cavalleria Rusticana.
Ola has a thriving vocal studio,and is passionate about teaching the next generation of singers in all genres. She currently teaches at the Illinois Conservatory of Music in Evanston.
El Amor Brujo. De Falla
'Nabucco' from Lyric Opera Baltimore
Fenena. Nabucco. Verdi
Interview with mezzo-soprano Ola Rafalo in the role of Fenena
Fenena. Nabucco. Verdi
'Nabucco' at Lyric Opera Baltimore
Essential Verdi concert
The Washington Chorus: ‘The Essential Verdi’ at The Kennedy Center
The Tragedy of Carmen, Syracuse Opera
Syracuse Opera’s "Carmen"
Condensed adaptation of classic tragedy ‘Carmen’ brings heat, passion to stage
Pacific Symphony draws sketches of Spain
Charlotte, Massenet Werther, Merkin Hall NYC
Verdi Gala Kennedy Center
"A budding baby Cossotto"
La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno: Incanta Ola Rafalo...
"Rafalo makes an impact of power..."
Mother in Amahl and the Night visitors: Opera Orlando
La Frugola, Il Tabarro, Chicago Opera Festival
Azucena, Il Trovatore, Opera Forza
Amneris scenes, Aida, Washington Chorus, Kennedy Center
Eboli scenes, Don Carlo, Gulfshore Opera
Maddalena, Rigoletto, Gulfshore Opera
Fenena, Nabucco, Baltimore Lyric, Opera Carolina
Fricka, Die Walkure, The Lyric Orchestra
Charlotte, Werther, Martha Cardona Opera
Dalilah scenes, Samson et Dalila
Santuzza, Cavalleria Rusticana, Opera Angelo
New Jersey Verismo
Pacific Symphony (highlights)
Mother, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Opera Orlando
Old Gyspy Woman, Aleko, Chicago Opera Theatre
Brangane, Tristan und Isolde, Eugene Symphony
Mother, Chinese tea cup, Shepherd, Dragonfly, L'enfant et les sortileges, Florentine Opera
Ulrica, Un Ballo in Maschera, Opera Project Columbus (Upcoming)
Verdi Requiem, Gulfshore Opera
Vivaldi Gloria, Carnegie Hall
deFalla el Amor Brujo, Pacific Symphony
Poniatowski Mass, Paderewski Symphony
Berlioz D'amour L'ardente Flamme, Springfield Symphony
Bach St. Matthew Passion, Lakeside Artists Guild
Brahms two songs for voice and viola, Lakeside Artists Guild
Beethoven 9th Symphony, Evanston Symphony Orchestra
Mahler songs, Lakeside Artists Guild
Mahler 2nd, Eugene Symphony (upcoming)
Verdi: La Forza del Destino, Preziosilla
Wagner: Tannhauser, Venus, Gotterdamerung, Waltraute, Siegfried, Erda
Cilea: Adriana Lecouvreur, Principessa
Ponchielli: Gioconda, Laura
Berlioz: Les Troyens: Didon,Cassandra
Tchaikovsky: Onegin,Olga, Pikova Dama, Polina, Orleanskaya Deva, Ioanna
Mussorgsky: Boris Godunov, Marina, Khovanshchina; Marfa
Rimsky-Korsakov: Tsar's Bride, Lyubasha
Moniuszko: Straszny Dwor, Jadwiga
Dvorak: Rusalka, Jezibaba, Foreign Princess
Concert repertoire prepared:
Mahler :Symphony 2, Symphony 3, Das Lied von der Erde, Des Knaben Wunderhorn
Prokofiev : Alexander Nevsky
Elgar :Sea Pictures
Berlioz: La mort du Cleopatre, Le nuits d’été
For Opera, Concert, and Acting inquiries please contact Kathy Olsen at:
Encompass Arts | New York City | Contact Information
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Welcome to Ola Rafalo's Vocal Studio Page! My journey as a vocal musician has been an adventure, with a lot of twist and turns. I am so happy to share all that I have learned from that journey with the next generation of singers and my own peers and colleagues.
I teach all styles of singing- in fact the pop music techniques singing are also derived from the Garcia lineage. Many of my students are opera singers, but some are pop singers, musical theater singers, public speakers, and even yoga teachers. After over 15 years of study, I have learned how the vocal instrument is a combination of muscles, and the personal expression of your spirit and physical body coming together. My job is to facilitate using your authentic voice, building up any weaknesses on those systems, and strengthening and empowering your voice to its full optimization!
Send an email to [email protected] for more information- I teach online and in person.