Chinese mezzo-soprano Hongni Wu is a recent graduate of the Jette Parker Program at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. She has garnered praise from The New York Times for her “technical agility, warm colorings, and ample sound” and from Operawire for her “remarkably outstanding voice.”
Operatic highlights of Ms. Wu’s 2023/24 season include Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia at both Macau International Music Festival and with Opera Theater of Saint Louis under Jonathan Brandani, a reprise of Dvorak’s Kuchtik with Opera Royal de Wallonie under Giampaolo Bisanti, and a return to Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in her role debut as Suzuki in Madame Butterfly, conducted by Kevin John Edusei. In concert, she will perform Schumann’s Requiem with the Philharmonia Baroque.
In the 2022-2023 season, Ms. Wu returned to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Kitchen Boy in Rusalka, and Opera Maine as Angelina in La Cenerentola. In addition, she made her role debut as Dorabella in Così fan tutte at Pacific Opera Victoria. In concert, she performed the solo in Mahler’s Third Symphony with Philharmonia Orchestra at Royal Festival Hall in London.Read more
In the 2021-2022 season, Ms. Wu made notable house debuts at San Francisco Opera in Bright Sheng’s Dream of the Red Chamber as Bao Chai, and at Santa Fe Opera in the world premiere of Huang Ruo’s M. Butterfly as Comrade Chin/Shu Fung. She also made her debut at Opéra national de Montpellier as The Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos, and returned to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Flora in La traviata. In concert, she performed Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, conducted by Yang Yang, with the Hangzhou Philharmonic Orchestra, and reprised Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, conducted by Yu Long, with the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra. In recital, she made her debut on the main stage of Guangzhou Opera House in a program of Mahler and Strauss.
In recent seasons, Ms. Wu made her house debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Flora in Richard Eyre’s production of La traviata. She has since returned to the mainstage as Mercédès in Barrie Kosky’s acclaimed production of Carmen, Second Lady in Die Zauberflöte, and Siébel in Faust, as well as scenes from Pelléas et Mélisande and Il barbiere di Siviglia in the Young Artists Summer Showcase.
Concert highlights have included Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with the Wuhan Philharmonic Orchestra, Das Lied von der Erde with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Tan Dun, Respighi’s Il tramonto at Shanghai Symphony Hall in a chamber program with bass-baritone Shenyang and the Polaris Quartet, and a national tour of China of Tan Dun’s Buddha Passion conducted by the composer himself. Ms. Wu has also performed in recitals in New York, Nantucket, Portland Maine, Yangzhou, Nanjing, Beijing, and has been featured in the Martina Arroyo Prelude Gala Concert and Spring Luncheon Cabaret in New York.
A 2018 winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Ms. Wu was a recipient of the Stan Sesser Career Award at the Manhattan School of Music, where she completed her Professional Studies and Master of Music Degree. She received her Bachelor of Music Degree from Xinghai Conservatory of Music, and participated in the Scuola di Bel Canto summer programme in Urbania, Italy. During her time at the Manhattan School of Music, she performed the roles of Angelina in La cenerentola, Sesto in La clemenza di Tito, and La libellule in L’enfant et les sortilèges. Further performing experience includes Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro with Opera Maine, Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus with the Martina Arroyo Foundation, the title role in Carmen with the Xinghai Conservatory of Music, and Mrs. Umeya in Qingling Song at Guangzhou Opera House.
“As Angelina (Cinderella), Hongni Wu met all the coloratura challenges set by Rossini and sang with an elegance and emotive beauty that transformed even simple phrases into meaningful sentiments. At the beginning of the opera, Wu’s Angelina was seen as the sheepish daughter of an abusive father; Wu effectively developed her character into the self-assured Princess she was destined to be. Angelina’s final aria was particularly moving: Wu effortlessly displayed the entirety of her range, moving through explosive rapid-fire passages with silky smoothness.”
“I hate to doom a singer to a single role, but Hongni Wu could have a career singing nothing but Cenerentola. The beautiful Chinese mezzo had everything needed, vocally and every other way, at her disposal; expressive features, a voice with a big bright top, a girlishly warm middle voice, and an easy plunge into the lower register. The speed and accuracy of her coloratura was never less than dazzling, even possessing an impeccable old-school trill that thrilled. There were subtle differences in her acting as well. The first time we hear Cinderella’s opening, wistful ballad Una vola c’era un Re (There once was a king) it’s plaintive . . . almost mournful, but when she repeats it in the second act, there is a change both vocally and visually, and it’s these subtle little details that stand out and make all the difference. Ms. Wu was an absolute delight in every aspect of the role, and in Nacqui all’ affanno … Non piu mesta one of the composer’s great razzle-dazzle ending scenas, she quite brought down the house. Once again, as at the first act curtain, the audience went wild with applause and cheering. Bonkers would not be inaccurate, as the ovation went on and on.”