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.