Chanáe Curtis

Opera career taking off for Chanáe Curtis, an Ashland University music graduate

Published on March 30, 2023
Arts and Culture

What started in Ohio and Ashland University as a love of music for Chanáe Curtis has blossomed into a successful opera career that has taken her not only across the U.S. but overseas.

Curtis, who earned a Bachelor of Music from AU in 2012, recently finished performing “Falstaff” in San Jose and is now in London with the English National Opera for Jeanine Tesori’s “Blue.”

“It is a privilege to be on any stage in front of a live audience doing what I love to do,” Curtis said. “I never take that for granted and I’m truly grateful to be able to travel, share my gift and bring music to life everywhere I go.”

Her upcoming opera is set in Harlem, New York, and explores the role of the police in African American family dynamics and communities. She will be playing a few of the supporting characters, including a spunky nurse who makes a lively appearance in Act. 1, Curtis said.

“Totally different production than Verdi’s ‘Falstaff’ set in the Elizabethan era, but that’s what I love about performing,” said Curtis, who is based in New York City. “It’s so versatile and I love constantly diving into different characters.”

In between this latest production in London and Ashland University, Curtis continued her schooling at the Manhattan School of Music and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, earning master’s degrees in opera performance and opera course in 2014 and 2016, respectively.

She has performed with the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Central City Opera in Colorado and Wolf Trap Opera in Virginia, as well as the Welsh National Opera in Wales, an opera house in East Sussex about an hour from London and Buckingham Palace.

“I really enjoyed performing for Prince (now King) Charles at Buckingham Palace,” Curtis said.

While she originally wanted to start her singing career by moving to a big city, Curtis said her choir director at Cleveland Heights High School, Craig McGaughey, insisted she further her education.

“He was right, and we found Ashland University to be the place that would not only nurture my talent but would allow me time to grow and forge my own path,” she said. “His guidance in my teenage years was crucial to my development as a performer and a person. I am truly grateful for all his guidance and unfailing beliefs in my abilities, which he instilled in me so deeply. Led me straight to Ashland, and the rest is history.”

Many professors, friends and friendly faces at AU, made her time at the university so special and memorable.

“I had a wonderful support system that I am certain I would not have had at any other institution,” Curtis said.