Catherine Merkel


The Centre for Opera Studies in Italy gratefully acknowledges the generous founding support of The Bel Canto Foundation for Italian Heritage and Opera.

COSI 2018 Program:
June 13 - July 15, 2018

52nd International Vocal Competition 's-Hertogenbosch Preliminary Round, in Sulmona's "Maria Caniglia" Opera House:
June 23, 2018

COSI Academy:
July 5 - July 15, 2018

Opera Chorus Program:
July 1 - July 15, 2018

Opera Creation Lab for composers and singers:
July 5 - July 15th, 2018.

COSI 2018 presents:
W.A. Mozart - Le Nozze di Figaro J. Haydn - Il Mondo della Luna G. Puccini - Gianni Schicchi Dean Burry - Il Giudizio di Pigmalione (World Premiere)

COSI 2018 Applications remain open for video applicants

Apply today!

Catherine Merkel is joining COSI 2017 summer opera program in the role of La Principessa in Puccini’s Suor Angelica. Here she discusses what fuels her passion for singing.


1. What made you start singing?

I have always sung!  My ‘tribe of origin’ is a group of people that love to sing, usually in four-part harmony, everything from oratorios and hymns to gospel songs and popular tunes.  For my 18th birthday, my parents gave me a semester of voice lessons, a gift that both encouraged and challenged me at the same time.

2. What do you love about singing?

Singing is a sort of libretto for the soul, a way of communicating what is going on in the deepest part of a person’s being.  I began formal music training at age 8 as a pianist, loved it thoroughly, but somehow it could not capture the nuances that the voice can convey.  I have been involved in choirs and ensembles, both amateur and professional, my whole life.  The corporate aspect of making music together is incredibly important to me.  

3. Why did you apply for COSI 2017 Summer Opera Program?

One of my voice teachers planted the dream of participating in COSI about three years ago.  It was something I could scarcely allow myself to think about; surely there could not be a place for me as a mature singer!  I audited several master classes led by Dr. Darryl Edwards, who suggested I consider coming to Italy.  Since this is the first summer I have not been teaching university summer courses, it seemed a prime opportunity to apply.

4. What do you hope to gain from the program?

There is always more to learn, more to polish, more to gain by instruction and directed practice.  I would benefit greatly from spending an entire month on vocal technique and performance.  COSI presents a great opportunity to connect with some of the best practitioners and teachers available.

5. What has been the highlight of your singing career so far?

In August 2015, I was invited by Canadian composer, Dr. Larry Nickel, to sing the mezzo roles for Requiem for Peace.  A multinational choir and orchestra assembled in Bayreuth, Germany to premiere this oratorio in Bavaria, including Kloster Speinshart, Kloster Nordlingen, Regensberg, and the Bayreuth Stadthalle.  The German national press was very generous with its reviews, venues were filled to capacity, and ovations often lasted nearly ten minutes. Because the Requiem for Peace was so well received, we were invited to present excerpts of it in New York’s Carnegie Hall in June 2016.

6. What has been the most difficult part and what did it teach you?

The most difficult part in pursuing singing at this point in my life are barriers of my own making.  I have had to work past the naysayers in my life who discouraged me from moving forward in the world of music. While many of my peers would suggest that I am ‘lucky’ – and truly I am indeed blessed – the distance I have come is a result of much hard work and determination, and an inner compulsion to keep learning, growing and dreaming.

7. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Dreams are unusual in that from the time they take root in one’s soul, they have already begun to send up green shoots, given that the soil and climate are right.  One repetiteur with whom I studied suggested I consider the role of Richard Wagner’s Erda.  Rather than being only a harbinger of doom, I would love to emerge as one who has grown from the ground up, communicating a message of redirection, encouragement, and inspiration.

Find out more about Cathy on her website or follow her on Facebook. If you would like to join our summer 2017 program in Sulmona, you can apply via YAP Tracker today!

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