Mezzo-soprano Luretta Bybee is proven to be an artist of remarkable range and versatility in her performances throughout the world. International recognition came early in her career when she sang the title role in the world tour of Peter Brook’s La tragédie de Carmen. Bizet’s heroine has since figured heavily in Ms. Bybee’s career success. The Seattle Times hailed: “Luretta Bybee…is a sexy, adroit Carmen whose wealth of experience shows in every phrase and gesture.” She has performed the role for over 25 opera companies throughout the world. Bybee is now in demand as a dynamic and comedic singing actress in roles such as Dame Marthe in Faust, Little Buttercup in H.M.S. Pinafore, Katisha in The Mikado, and Madame Armfeldt in A Little Night Music.
A sought-after educator, clinician, and competition judge, Professor Bybee serves on the voice faculty at Loyola University’s College of Music and Fine Arts in New Orleans. She is also part of the leadership team for New England Conservatory’s Opera Studies program, in partnership with Artistic Advisor Stephen Lord and Opera Studies Chair Joshua Major.
This season, she will appear as Mary in Der fliegende Holländer with Seattle Opera and as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd with Glimmerglass Opera. In future seasons, she makes returns to Houston Grand Opera and The Dallas Opera.
Recently, Ms. Bybee appeared as Mrs. Lovett in Sondheim’s beloved horror story, Sweeney Todd at Vancouver Opera; Madame de la Haltière in Cendrillon with New Orleans Opera; Mary in Opera Carolina’s production of Der fliegende Holländer; Dame Marthe in Faust with Arizona Opera; Madame Armfeldt in A Little Night Music with the Pine Mountain Music Festival; and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Seattle Symphony and San Antonio Symphony.
She made her Seattle Opera début as Princess Maria in Prokofiev’s War and Peace, in a production directed by Francesca Zambello, released on video. She returned as a house favorite as Mary in Der fliegende Holländer, Paula in Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas, Amanda in the world première of Daron Hagen’s Amelia, Klytämnestra in Elektra, Valkyrie in Die Walküre, Second Norn and Waltraute cover in Götterdämmerung, and Fricka in both Das Rheingold and Die Walküre. She appeared in Seattle Opera’s Der Ring des Nibelungen in 2005, 2009, and 2013.
Other appearances have included Herodias in Salome at the Arizona Opera, Orlando Opera, and Cleveland Opera; Amneris in Aïda with Nashville Opera; Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera with Opera Memphis; the title role in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia for Opéra de Montréal; and Dalila in Samson et Dalila with Memphis Opera.
Ms. Bybee’s interpretations of Rossini characters earlier in her career garnered widespread recognition and praise. In addition to her appearances as Isabella at New York City Opera, she sang the role in Cologne, Dublin and at the Festival International de Santander. She made her Frankfurt Opera début in concert performances of Tancredi and she sang the role of Falliero in the American première of Rossini’s Bianca e Falliero at the Florida Grand Opera. Ms. Bybee also enjoyed great success as Farnace in Mozart’s Mitridate, re di Ponto at the Wexford Festival and in Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.
The Verdi Requiem marked Ms. Bybee’s début at Carnegie Hall, with subsequent performances for Händel’s Messiah with the Colorado and Houston Symphonies. She also appeared as the mezzo-soprano soloist in a Verdi Gala with the Jacksonville Symphony. She sang Bernstein’s Songfest to open the season at the 92nd St. Y in New York, and again in with Seiji Ozawa at the Tanglewood Festival. Ms. Bybee created the role of Joanna in Carly Simon’s opera Romulus Hunt in its world première in New York. The production was directed by Francesca Zambello and recorded on Angel records.