Named “Debut Artist of the Year” by the Joy in Singing Foundation, Abi Levis is an exciting and versatile performer. Critics the world over have described her artistry as “fearless”, “dazzling”, “impressive”, and “breathtaking”. Ms. Levis’ passion for vocal music has been continuously nurtured throughout her life – singing Irish folk music with her father and Patsy Cline tunes at county fairs with her mentor, Tom Dyhrberg. She began classical training at the age of 15 and, after reading Opera for Dummies, became a die-hard opera fan. When not singing, she enjoys knitting, eating, playing PokemonGO! (gotta catch ’em all), tasting all the beers, and traveling the world as The Tessitourist (@tessitourist on Instagram and Ravelry). She is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, is a former caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, and is an advocate for mental health awareness, as she lives with anxiety herself.
Ms. Levis has appeared as a soloist with the Toronto Symphony, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, Flint Symphony, Symphonie Atlantique, American Symphony Orchestra, Utah Symphony, Ars Lyrica Houston and the Handel and Haydn Society. Operatically she has performed extensively at home and abroad with companies such Opera Nantes, Opera de Rennes, Utah Opera, Dallas Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Opera Parallele, Luzerner Theater, and Deutsche Oper Berlin.
She is a prize-winner of several competitions, including the American Prize, the Deborah Voigt Competition, the McCammon Competition, the Shreveport Opera Competition, a Sullivan grant, the Klaudia Taev Competition, the Opera Foundation Competition, the Gerda Lissner Competitions (Song and Opera), the William C Byrd competition, the Wilhelm Stenhammer Competition, the James Toland Vocal Arts Competition, the Classical Singer Competition, and the Lyndon Woodside Oratorio Competition.
Ms. Levis looks forward to no longer competing as a performer, as it has always struck her as problematic. Though she is grateful for the support she had received from these foundations, she worries about the effects of competition culture on the operatic community.
The Corona Virus seasons have been ones of fear, frustration, and loss for Ms. Levis. When the pandemic started, she was in the middle of performances in France. She flew back to the US within 18 hours of the shut down of French Theatres, amid looming border closures and as American ports of entry were thrown into chaos. The following months saw the cancellations of her debuts with Fort Worth Opera, The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and San Francisco Opera, along with several recital opportunities.
Ms. Levis has since begun exploring and reshaping the artist she wants to be in relation to herself and to today’s society. Her work with the acclaimed Mirror Visions Ensemble, of which she is a core member, will continue so keep an eye on the Calendar and on her and their social media platforms! .
Ms. Levis excels in a variety of musical styles from baroque to contemporary music, from opera to musical theater. Passionate about new music, she has worked closely with composers such as John Harbison, John Musto, Brian Suits, Tamzin Elliot, Juliana Hall, and B.E. Boykin. Favorite roles in opera or musical theater have included ingénues (Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, Cinderella in Into the Woods, Nancy in Albert Herring), maids and an aging actress who are anything but ingénues (Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti, Despina in Cosi fan tutte, Petra in A Little Night Music and Métella in La vie Parisienne), passionate young men (Orfeo in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, The Fox in The Cunning Little Vixen, Sesto in Giulio Cesare in Egitto, Romeo in I Capuleti ei Montecchi, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, and Siebel in Faust), bratty little boys and princes (Stephano in Romeo et Juliette, the title role in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les sortileges, and Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus), a chatterbox who interrupts her constant prattling only to sip hot chocolate (La Conversation in Charpentier’s Les plaisirs de Versailles), and enigmatic queens (Purcell’s Dido and Ottavia in L’incoranzaione di Poppea).
Abi holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston, and Bard College Conservatory. While a Young Artist she performed with Los Angeles Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Utah Opera/Utah Symphony, The Britten-Pears Young Artist Program, and Songfest. She resides in Southern California with her husband, award winning author David Treuer, her three bonus-kids, and a small zoo of pets.