Biography

Biography
Main photos by Dario Acosta

Ola Rafało, a young Polish-American mezzo, has been called a "Vocal Powerhouse" several times by critics. She is recognized for her large voice, described often as velvety, voluptuous, rich and dusky.  “Ola Rafało proved to be a mezzo to watch, with a strong Stride la Vampa” said Anne Midgette, for the Washington Post, of The Washington Chorus’ Essential Verdi concert 2014, at the Kennedy Center. There, Rafało was featured in scenes as Azucena, and Amneris.   “A Mezzo with great promise”, Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun (Nabucco, Opera Baltimore 2014). 

During the 2013-14 season, Ola debuted the title role in La Tragedie de Carmen with Syracuse Opera, to great acclaim. Opera Times said that she “established her character immediately as a seductress par excellence, and her pitch in the devious Seguidilla was incredibly accurate — with no sign of seams when navigating through vocal registers during the spacious octave leaps that permeate this demanding aria.” Ola triumphed at Carnegie Hall as the Alto soloist in Vivaldi’s Gloria. She was featured in De Falla’s El Amor Brujo with the Pacific Symphony, which she sang with a “fine dusky quality”-L.A. Times. Ola also sang in the Essential Verdi Gala at the Kennedy Center, and in a “Pop-opera concert” with Opera Tampa. Rafało closed the season with her debut at Baltimore Lyric Opera as Fenena in Nabucco.

In the 2014-2015 season, Ola reprised the role of Fenena (Nabucco) with Opera Carolina, again to great acclaim. “Rafało produced the best singing of the evening, in spite of her role being smaller. Ola has a very powerful instrument and uses it with good technique, producing her notes with a great deal of precision. She has a very pleasant timbre an her passaggio is smooth with perfect pitch control. She started up already warm and didn’t miss a beat or a note. "– Luiz Gazzola of Opera Lively. Ola returned to the Pacific Symphony to sing the title role highlights from Carmen in concert. She was featured in another Verdi Gala, singing selections from Il Trovatore, and the Verdi Requiem with Gulfshore opera, under Maestro Paul Nadler. 

In 2015-2016,  Ola sang the title role in Bizet’s Carmen with New Jersey Verismo Opera, debuted the role of Azucena in Il Trovatore with Opera Forza, and the role of Charlotte in Werther with Martha Cardona Opera, at the Kaufman Center.  Ola returned to Gulfshore Opera for the Legends of Opera Gala featuring Samuel Ramey. She also was featured in concert with the Springfield Symphony, singing highlights from Samson et Dalila,  and concerts with Manhattan Lyric Opera.  This spring Ola made her debut performance in Italy, singing in a concert at Teatro Curci di Barletta, with Maestro Roberto Corliano. 

Upcoming engagements include: the role of Alkmene in the Olympic Torch , (a new opera by P. Karousos), a Verdi gala at the Altamura Center for the performing arts, a concert tour of Poland, the role of the Mother in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, (Orlando Opera), Mahler: Des Knaben Wunderhorn, and Durufle: Requiem(Munich, Germany), Brahms: Alto Rhapsody and De Falla’s El Amor Brujo, (Miami Chamber Orchestra), Olga in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (Opera theatre du Metz).

Ms. Rafało, as a child of Polish immigrants to the U.S., is fluent in Polish, and carries dual passports for the U.S. and Poland, making her a natural interpreter of the slavic repertoire, in roles such as Olga in Eugene Onegin, Konchakovna in Prince Igor, Pollina in Queen of Spades, Ioanna in Orleanskaya Deva, and Jadwiga inStraszny Dwor. Other roles in her diverse repertoire include Adalgisa in Norma, Giovanna Seymour in Anna Bolena, and Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier.

Equally moving as an interpreter of modern music, Ms. Rafało performed the title role in Catan’s Florencia in El Amazonas with Palm Beach Opera, 2011, in which critics said “She was believable as a person who understands the power of love and is able to impart hard-earned wisdom about it. She held the stage firmly, both vocally and dramatically.”- (Palm Beach Arts Paper).

Other career highlights include: Ola's performance as Fricka in Die Walküre, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, and the title role of Carmen with the Lyric Orchestra.  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. This year, 2016, Ola was awarded a career grant in the name of Giulietta Simionato from the Altamura/Caruso foundation. Last year, Ola was awarded both the Audience Choice Prize, and the Fourth Prize, at the 2015 Young Patronesses of Opera competition. 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.

Press

El Amor Brujo. De Falla

Mezzo-soprano Ola Rafalo brought a fine dusky quality to the vocal numbers in the Falla's ballet.
Mark Swed

'Nabucco' from Lyric Opera Baltimore

Velvety-toned mezzo-soprano Ola Rafalo revealed promise as Fenena, Nabucco’s daughter.
Tim Smith

Fenena. Nabucco. Verdi

Published by Voix des artes
From her first entrance, Ms. Rafało grasped every musical and histrionic opportunity given to Fenena, allying her firm, plush tones to acting of girlish subtlety. In the trio with Abigaille and Ismaele in Act One, ‘Io t'amava! il regno, il cuore,’ she sang splendidly, phrasing ‘Ah! già t'invoco,…
Joseph Newsome, October 18, 2014

Interview with mezzo-soprano Ola Rafalo in the role of Fenena

Published by Opera Lively
...If one is born with a dramatic instrument and it is developed correctly technically, then a role like that is nothing to fear. For someone like me, repertoire that is too light can be more dangerous...
Luiz Gazzola, September 8, 2014

Fenena. Nabucco. Verdi

Published by Opera Lively
As a matter of fact she produced the best singing of the evening, in spite of her role being smaller. Ola has a very powerful mezzo-soprano instrument and she uses it with good technique, producing her notes with a great deal of precision. She has a very pleasant timbre an her passagio is smooth with…
Luiz Gazzola, October 18, 2014

'Nabucco' at Lyric Opera Baltimore

Mezzo-soprano, Rafalo delivers a truly emotional aria in “Oh dischiuso è il firmament!” a mournful yet hopeful outcry to God for her martyrdom. Despite it being her only aria, Rafalo’s balance of emotions within her vocal clarity is sensational and makes her character stand out despite being…
Amanda Gunther, May 10, 2014

Essential Verdi concert

Ola Rafalo proved to be a mezzo to watch, with a strong "Stride la Vampa".Kennedy Center debutEssential Verdi Concert with the Washington Chorus
Anne Midgette

The Washington Chorus: ‘The Essential Verdi’ at The Kennedy Center

A thrilling performance of Azucena’s fiery “Stride la vampa” by mezzo-soprano Ola Rafalo, whose imperious manner and dark, sultry chest voice, exploding in a ravishingly focused high G, captured the character’s passionate fury.
Leslie Weisman

The Tragedy of Carmen, Syracuse Opera

There is much to love in the singing here, and Ola Rafalo — singing her first-ever role of Carmen — deserves the lion’s (or should I say tigress’s) share of the credit.Rafalo’s dark and richly hued mezzo soprano during the sultry Habanera established her character immediately as a seductress…
David Abrams

Carmen

Published by The Post Standard, Syracuse, October 14, 2013
In the Habanera Rafalo's execution is both subtle and powerfully seductive drawing Jose and the audience into her tale.The story continues to unfold with "Pres des remparts de Seville" : showcasing Rafalo's ability to at one moment be vulnerable and soft and the next a wild temptress.
Abel Searor

Syracuse Opera’s "Carmen"

The torturously tempting portrayal of female lead Carmen (Ola Rafalo) overpowered the theater from the first moment light hits her impeccable beauty.She is a gypsy with serpentine belly dancing that comments on women’s manipulative power over men through sexuality.
Nickreichert9

Condensed adaptation of classic tragedy ‘Carmen’ brings heat, passion to stage

Rafalo’s voice has a richness all its own, with a tone that compels the listener to pay close attention to her. Her voice suits Carmen perfectly; it is full, sultry and quite abnormal in the most compelling way. And Rafalo certainly knows how to be sexy.
Jessica Cabe

Pacific Symphony draws sketches of Spain

El Amor Brujo. De Falla.St.Clair and the orchestra captured the dusky sonorities prettily and mezzo-soprano Ola Rafalo sang with a creamy sultriness on high and an apt huskiness down low. Lovely.
Timothy Mangan

Charlotte, Massenet Werther, Merkin Hall NYC

Published by Vocedimeche.com
.. mezzo-soprano Ola Rafalo, in the role of Charlotte, cut right through the orchestra's sound with her distinctive and richly textured voice. The interesting texture and generous vibrato were very much to our liking. She was outstanding in her moving third act aria "Va! Laisse couler…
meche kroop

Verdi Gala Kennedy Center

"mezzo-soprano Ola Rafalo, who offered a dark voluptuous mezzo that carried well into the hall. Volpe, and Rafalo in particular were vocal powerhouses"
Patrick D. McCoy

"A budding baby Cossotto"

Published by Outpost
Ola Rafalo, a singer whose raw instrument is sure to warrant her a starry career, at times sounding like a budding baby Cossotto. Though her role is short, it contains some of the most graciously written passages to be found in the score, through which her dark, sultry sound rolled out through the auditorium…
Daniel Vasque

Performance Schedule

Older
Fri Sep 15 8:00 PM
Miami

Photos

Videos

O mio fernando, Ola Rafalo
Ola Rafalo, mezzo-soprano: Fenena in Verdi's Nabucco
mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix, Ola Rafalo and Roberto Corliano
Va!.. laisse couler mes larmes from Massenet's Werther
Werther Letter scene, Ola Rafalo mezzosoprano 2016 Martha Cardona Opera
Massenet Werther: Final Duet
Nel giardin del bello, Don Carlo, Ola Rafalo


OPERA REPERTOIRE


Verdi
Nabucco                    Fenena
Il Trovatore                 Azucena
Aida                           Amneris
Don Carlo                  Eboli
La Forza del Destino Preziosilla
Luisa Miller                La Duchessa

Wagner
Tristan und Isolde      Brangane
Tannhauser                Venus
Die Walkure               Fricka
Gotterdamerung        Waltraute

Saint-Saens
Samson et Dalila        Dalilah

Massenet
Werther                       Charlotte

Cilea
Adriana Lecouvreur   Principessa

Ponchielli
Gioconda                   Laura

Mascagni
Cavalleria Rusticana  Santuzza

Bizet
Carmen                      Carmen

Berlioz
Les Troyens               Didon, Cassandra

Tchaikovsky
Onegin                      Olga
Pikova Dama            Polina
Orleanskaya Deva    Ioanna

Mussorgsky
Boris Godunov          Marina
Khovanshchina         Marta

Rimsky-Korsakov
Tsar's Bride               Lyubasha

Moniuszko     
Straszny Dwor         Jadwiga

Dvorak
Rusalka                   Jezibaba

Bellini
Norma                     Adalgisa

Donizetti
Anna Bolena            Giovanna Seymour
La favorita                Leonora

Rossini   
Semiramide             Arsace

CONCERT REPERTOIRE

Mahler
Das Lied von der Erde
Des Knaben Wunderhorn

Prokofiev
Alexander Nevsky

Rachmaninov
Vespers
songs

Verdi
Requiem

Vivaldi   
Gloria
 
deFalla
el Amor Brujo

Durufle
Requiem

Elgar
Sea Pictures
 
Berlioz
La mort du Cleopatre 
Le nuits d’été 


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