Ola Rafało, a Polish-American mezzo has been called a "Vocal Powerhouse", and "a Budding next Cossotto", by critics. “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 VerdiRequiem 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.
Ola recieved an award from UNESCO for her performance in the role of Alkmene in the Olympic Torch , (a modern Greek opera by P. Karousos). This season Ola was awarded the Fourth Prize and the Audience choice award from the Young Patronesses of Opera Competition.
In 2016-2017, Miss Rafalo was featured in a Verdi gala at the Altamura Center for the performing arts, followed by a "world peace" concert tour of Poland. This season she was awarded a career grant in the name of Giulietta Simionato from the Inter-city Arts foundation. Miss Rafalo debuted the role of the Mother in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, (Orlando Opera), and sang many concerts including with the Summit Symphony (arias), and the Paderewski Symphony (Karnaval Concert). She joined international superstar bass: Andrea Silvestrelli for a very successful duo recital at FermiLab auditorium in Chicago.
This current season of 2017-2018 Miss Rafalo won the Second Prize of the Altamura-Caruso Competition, which will take her to Osimo Italy for a performance at the Teatro Nuova Fenice in August. This season Ola performed with a new opera company in Orlando: Opera del Sol, in a unique production combining theatre, opera, dance, circus, and other elements entitled Opera Wars. She also joined the Paderewski Symphony once again to perform the American premiere of the Poniatowski Mass, an important work of Polish history and music. Ola will return to Gulfshore Opera this season to perform the role of Maddalena in Rigoletto, and to be featured in concerts.
Ms. Rafało, as a child of Polish immigrants to the U.S., is fluent in Polish, English and Italian. She 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, and Giovanna Seymour in Anna Bolena.
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. TIn 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.
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,…read more
...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...
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…read more
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…read more
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.
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…read more
Published byThe 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. read more
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. read more
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.
.. 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…read more
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…read more