“Kristin Lewis: From Student to Stage” interview with the University of Central Arkansas

Kristin Lewis Bio photoKristin Lewis, Soprano,  a lyrico-spinto soprano lauded for her interpretations of Verdi heroines, is a native of Little Rock, Arkansas/USA. Ms. Lewis began her vocal studies at the University of Central Arkansas under the guidance of Dr. Martha Antolik. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree, she continued with her Master of Music studies at the University of Tennessee with Ms. Kay Paschal and Mr. Andrew Wentzel. Her postgraduate instruction was led by Dr. Jonathan Retzlaff. She currently lives in Vienna, Austria, and is a student of Carol Byers.

A recipient of many honors, Ms. Lewis was recently awarded the 2015 College of Arts and Sciences Divisional Achievement Award for the Visual and Performing Arts from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She was awarded the Orazio Tosi Prize 2012, given by the Club Lirica Parma, at the birthplace of Giuseppe Verdi. Ms. Lewis was named the 2010 recipient of the Artist of the Year Award by the Savonlinna Opera Festival. In addition, she was voted a 2010 recipient of the coveted “Oscars of the Opera” by the Foundation of Verona for the Arena. She is a two-time National Finalist of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition. She has also been a finalist of the “XLVI Concours International de Chant de la Ville de Toulouse”, a winner of the “Internationalen Gesangswettbewerb Ferruccio Tagliavini” and a winner of the “Concorso Internazionale Di Musica Gian Battista Viotti”. Ms. Lewis also won the Opera Prize and the Audience Award in the “Concorso Internationale di Canto Debutto A Merano”.

In 2014, Ms. Lewis established a foundation to aid in the development of younger musicians and foster the discovery and appreciation of opera and musical culture through experiences in music. The Kristin Lewis Foundation, Inc, is a nonprofit corporation, designed to connect young singers with educational and professional experiences to further refine their talents. Among her other achievements, Ms. Lewis is very active in humanitarian work. She is an Ambassador for the Red Cross in Austria. She also is a supporter of Animal Care Austria, an animal rescue agency based in Vienna.

The 2017-18 opera season will feature Ms. Lewis’ house debuts at the Gstaad Menuhin Opera Festival, the Royal Opera House Muscat and Opera Hong Kong in the title role character in Verdi’s Aïda. She is delighted to make her highly anticipated return to Teatro La Fenice, in Venice, Italy, to perform the role of Amelia in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera; and to make her house debut at the Beijing National Center for the Performing Arts, singing Strauss’ Vier Letzte Lieder under the baton of Maestro Zubin Mehta. Other outstanding engagements will include her house debut at the Hamburg State Opera, where she will perform the title role in Verdi’s Aïda, a role that she will also reprise at her beloved Vienna State Opera. Ms. Lewis will also perform the title role of Bess in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess in her house debut at the National Opera and Ballet of Bulgaria.

The 2016 – 17 season began with Ms. Lewis being featured in the title role character of Verdi’s Aïda at the Vienna State Opera. She was given prominence during the illustrious “Hollywood in Vienna” Awards Gala in which Hollywood movie soundtrack composer, Alexandre Desplat, was bestowed with the coveted Max Steiner Film Music Achievement Award, by singing the world premiere of a special version of Jerry Goldsmith’s Star Trek: First Contact – Main Title, produced by Werner Stranka and Martin Gellner.

Ms. Lewis‘ performance during the opening ceremony of the 62nd Viennese Opera Ball at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City was noted as a highpoint of the evening. She made a joyful return to the Robinson Auditorium in Little Rock, Arkansas, where she sang as Soprano soloist in Mahler’s Second Symphony with the Arkansas Symphony, under the baton of Maestro Philip Mann. She also returned to Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy, for her debut of the title role in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, as well as her return to the Vienna State Opera for repeat performances of the role Amelia in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera. A concert appearance featuring Ms. Lewis singing Verdi Arias conducted by Maestro Kimo Furumoto with the Huntington Symphony Orchestra was presented at the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center in Huntington, West Virginia. She made highly celebrated house debuts at the Royal Opera House in London, England, performing the role of Elisabetta di Valois, as well as at Teatre Liceu Barcelona, where she performed the role of Leonora in Verdi’s Il Trovatore. Ms. Lewis also made her return to the Deutsche Oper Berlin, where is revisited the role Elisabetta di Valois in Verdi’s Don Carlo.

The 2015-16 opera season highlighted Ms. Lewis’ Carnegie Hall debut as Soprano Soloist in Mahler’s Second Symphony with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra and Maestro Zubin Mehta as conductor. Other exciting appearances included her return to Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy, to sing her role debut of “Ginevra” in Giordano’s La Cena delle Beffe; her return to the Vienna Staatsoper with performances of “Amelia” in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera; performances of “Mimi” in Puccini’s La Boheme at the Bayrische Staatsoper in Munich, Germany; her house debut at Teatro Regio in Turin, Italy, and her return to Teatro San Carlo, singing the title role in Verdi’s “Aida”.

The 2014-15 season included Ms. Lewis singing the title role in Verdi’s Aida at Teatro alla Scala, in Milian, Italy, with Maestro Zubin Mehta conducting. She was led by Maestro Mehta at NHK Hall in Tokyo, Japan, in performances of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. She made her theatre debuts at Astana Opera in Kazakstan and the Seoul Arts Opera Center in South Korea singing the title role in Verdi’s “Aida”. Other illustrious performances included the role “Leonora” in Verdi’s Il Trovatore at Teatro La Fenice in Venice, Italy, and her house debut at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, Germany, singing the role of “Elisabetta” in Verdi’s Don Carlo.

During the 2013-14 season, Ms. Lewis participated in the bicentennial celebration of Giuseppe Verdi. She sang the title role of “Aida” at the Vienna Staatsoper, the Staatsoper im Schiller Theatre in Berlin, Germany, l’Opéra Royal de Wallonie, as well as Teatro San Carlo in Naples, Italy. Other highlights of the season were the roles of “Leonora” in Verdi’s Il Trovatore at Teatro alla Scala, “Mimi” in Puccini’s La Boheme with Teatro La Fenice , and “Nedda” in Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci at the Royal Danish Theatre and Teatro Regio in Parma, Italy.

Equally comfortable with multiple composers, she has also been featured as Puccini’s “Liu” in Turandot, Mozart’s “Donna Anna” in Don Giovanni, Jake Heggie’s “Sister Rose” in Dead Man Walking, and “Maddalena” in Giordano’s Andrea Chénier.

Ms. Lewis has performed in such prestigious houses as the Vienna State Opera, Teatro alla Scala, the l’Opéra de Paris, Berlin State Opera, the Arena di Verona, Carnegie Hall, Opera di Firenze, Opera Orchestra New York in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, the Bayerische Staatsoper, the Mariinsky Theatre, Chorégies d’Orange, the Royal Danish Theatre, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, the Vienna Konzerthaus, Teatro Regio di Torino, Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden, the Puccini Opera Festival in Torre del Lago, Teatro Carlo Felice, Teatro Massimo Bellini, Teatro Regio di Parma, l’Opera de Nice, Teatro San Carlo in Naples, Italy, the Savonlinna Opera Festival, Teatro Comunale di Modena, Opéra National de Lyon, Teatro Massimo di Palermo, Teatro La Fenice in Venice, Italy, Astana Opera, in addition to appearing on the far eastern stages of Opera Hong Kong, Korea National Opera Seoul and NKH Hall in Tokyo, Japan.

She has been directed by many illustrious conductors, including Nicola Luisotti, Alain Altinoglu, Gianandrea Noseda, Riccardo Muti, Bruno Bartoletti, Philippe Jordan, Donato Renzetti, Francesco Ivan Ciampa, Dan Ettinger, Zubin Mehta, Donald Runnicles, Donato Renzetti, Daniel Oren, Daniele Gatti, Daniele Callegari, Alberto Veronesi, Omer Wellber and Philippe Auguin.

Awards and Competitions

  • University of Tennessee at Knoxville -College of Arts and Sciences Divisional Achievement Award for the Visual and Performing Arts – 2015
  • Club Lirica Parma – Orazio Tosi Prize – 2012
  • International Opera Awards – “Oscar della Lirica” 2010
  • Savonlinna Opera Festival “Artist of the Year” 2010
  • Concours International de Chant de Toulouse – Finalist 2006
  • Internationalen Gesangswettbewerb Ferruccio Tagliavini – Dritte Preis 2005
  • Concorso Internazionale Di Musica Gian Battista Viotti – Premio Secondo 2004
  • Concorso Internazionale Di Canto “Debutto A Merano” – Premio Opera 2004
  • Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Mid-South Region – First Place 2001, 1998
  • Orpheus National Music Competition – Puccini Award 2003
  • MacAllister Awards Regional Winner 2003
  • Birmingham Opera Vocal Competition – Second Place 2001



  • University of Tennessee School of Music – Master of Music Degree – Vocal Performance
  • Knoxville Opera Studio
  • University of Central Arkansas Department of Music – Bachelor of Music Degree – Vocal Performance



  • Carol Byers
  • Jonathan Retzlaff
  • Kay Paschal
  • Andrew Wentzel
  • Dr. Martha Antolik



  • Paul Weigold
  • James Pearson
  • Niels Muus
  • George Darden
  • Marcello Rota
  • Fulvio Bottega
  • Robert Cowart
  • Patricia McCaffrey
  • Gregory Mason
  • Maximillian Cencic
  • Jorge Richter
  • Christy Lee
  • Diego Crovetti
  • Nelson Guido Calzi
  • Stephen Cserjan
  • Nicholas Carthy


Kristin Lewis, sopranoVioletta
Urmana, mezzo-soprano
Piotr Beczala, tenor
Ildar Abdrazakov, bass
Phillipe Jordan, conductor
Chorus and Orchestra of l’Opera National de Paris

“The rising star Kristin Lewis, often compared to Leontyne Price, sang a powerful Libera Me without forcing effects as many sopranos did.” ~Brigitte MAROILLAT “… Kristin Lewis’ voice blossoms to the full in the scores of Verdi’s maturity … Her Aida was stunning, and [here] her sleek luminosity evoked the Nile (and Leontyne Price) … “~Presto Classical

Kristin Lewis, soprano
Francesco Demuro, tenor
Alex Esposito, bass
Vivica Genaux, mezzo-soprano
Dalibor Jenis, baritone
Teodor Ilincai, tenor
Simone Kermes, soprano
Adrianne Pieczonka, soprano
Antonio Poli, tenor
Anna Smirnova, mezzo-soprano
Berlin Deutsche Opera Chorus and Orchestra
(chorus master: William Spaulding)
Donald Runnicles, conductor
Recorded live at the
Deutsche Oper Berlin,
5 November 2011

Kristin Lewis, Aida
Marianne Cornetti, Amneris
Marco Berti, Radames
Alberto Gazale, Amonasro
Paata Burchuladze, Ramfis
Daniel Oren, Conductor
Chorus and Orchestra of the Israeli Opera Tel Aviv

“Kristin Lewis ist die Masada AIDA. Die bildhübsche amerikanische Sängerin zählt mit ihrer unverwechselbaren Stimme heute zu den führenden Verdi Sopranistinnen. Zu ihrem Repertoire zählen die Titelrolle von Luisa Miller, Elisabetta in Don Carlos, Medora in Corsaro und Leonora im Troubadour. Sie ist regelmässiger Gast in den Opernhäusern der ganzen Welt, darunter die Arena die Verona, die Oper in Florenz, die Wiener Staatsoper und die Opernhäuser in Bilbao und Tokio.”~Amazon

“Yesterday I fell in love. American soprano Kristin Lewis swept me off my feet. In the role of Aïda in Verdi’s opera of the same name, performed last night at the foot of Masada, she was elegant, beautiful, and pitiable. Her voice, so clear and luminous, called to mind a friend’s description of fine opera: “It takes your heart and gives it a pat.” ~Esther Hecht Word Press

Kristin Lewis, Amelia
Francesco Meli, Riccardo
Vladimir Stoyanov, Renato
Elisabetta Fiorillo, Ulrica
Serena Gamberoni, Oscar
Filippo Polinelli, Silvano
Antonio Barbargallo, Samuel
Enrico Rinaldo, Tom
Cosimo Vassallo, Un giudice
Enrico Paolillo, Un servo
Gianluigi Gelmetti, Conductor
Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro Regio di Parma
Recorded live at the Teatro Regio/Verdi Festival Parma,
October 1, 5, 9, 13, 20 & 23, 2011

“Il soprano statunitense Kristin Lewis che affronta, non ancora trentenne, per la prima volta il ruolo di Amelia, ha un timbro sontuoso e ricco di armonici che rimane tale anche nelle note basse di cui è costellata questa difficile partitura.”~Patrizia Monteverdi Opera Click “Arkansas-born, Vienna-based Kristin Lewis makes both her debut as Amelia and her Parma debut in this production. She has a powerful and quite lovely voice: try her stunning Act II arias Ecco l’orrido campo and Ma dall’arido stelo divulsa.” ~Robert Cummings Classical Net