"With soprano Francesca Chiejina's celestial voice suspended above the orchestra’s shimmering, mournful music, you might feel as if you’re transcending"
"...even though it’s virtually the first thing we hear, it’s hard to forget the radiance of Francesca Chiejina’s Clara when she delivers her peachy Summertime."
"Francesca Chiejina produced exquisitely shaped phrases and a luminous sound"
Nigerian-American soprano Francesca Chiejina is a graduate of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where her roles included Countess Ceprano Rigoletto, Lady-in-Waiting Macbeth, Voice from Heaven Don Carlo, and Ines Il trovatore.
This season, Francesca sings the title role in Semele (Blackheath Halls) and performs Strauss Lieder with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and Opera North. She will premiere Odyssey, a new work by Jonathan Dove and will headline the CBSO’s ‘Viennese New Year’ concert.
Recent operatic highlights include High Priestess Aida at Royal Opera House and Lauretta Il Trittico with Scottish Opera Mimì La bohème (Nevill Holt Opera, English Touring Opera); Melissa Amadigi (English Touring Opera); Miss Jessel The Turn of the Screw (OperaGlass Works); the title role in English Touring Opera’s film of Elena Langer and Glyn Maxwell’s Ariadne; Freia RhineGold (Birmingham Opera Company); Anne Trulove The Rake’s Progress (Blackheath Halls Opera); her debut with Capella Cracoviensis as Aldimira Sigismondo; her house and role debut as Clara Porgy and Bess at Grange Park Opera; her debut with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal (Serena Porgy and Bess).
On the concert platform, she has recently sung Berg’s Seven Early Songs with the Sinfonia of London and John Wilson at the BBC Proms, Mozart’s Requiem with Crouch End Festival Chorus, Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the BBC Philharmonic and with the Royal Northern Sinfonia at the Sage Gateshead; Handel’s Messiah with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall; Vaughan Williams’s Serenade to Music at the Last Night of the Proms.
Chiejina has participated in masterclasses with Martin Katz, Kamal Khan, Gianna Rolandi, Joyce DiDonato, Brigitte Fassbänder, Edith Wiens and Felicity Lott. Competition successes include reaching the finals of the inaugural Glyndebourne Opera Cup in 2018, the semi-finals in the National Mozart Competition and winning the GSMD English Song Prize, the GSMD Aria Prize, as well as second prize in the Classical Singer Competition. She was also a finalist in the 2017 Kathleen Ferrier Awards.
Chiejina studied at the University of Michigan with Martha Sheil and James Paterson, and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Sue McCulloch.
This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.
'Transfigured' album with Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective
Chandos Records, September 2023
Francesco Chiejina’s lustrous soprano brings serious class to Zemlinsky’s Dehmel setting, and also to Alma Mahler’s songs
Malcolm Hayes, BBC Music Magazine
Semele (Title Role)
Blackheath Halls, September 2023
Francesca Chiejina has a richer voice than we usually hear in the title role, but nimble enough for the coloratura trials of Act 3, and her peachy, self-adoring and sensuous Semele was a treat.
Hugh Canning, Opera Magazine
Brimming with dramatic power, Francesca Chiejina’s luscious voice is definitely heading for darker roles. But she can also float top notes with delicious purity, and has the agility to pull off the marathon Myself I Shall Adore.
David Benedict, The Stage
Francesca Chiejina is vivacious as spirited Semele
Claudia Pritchard, Culture Whisper
A complete musical delight
Robert Thicknesse, Opera Now
Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem / Still Wailing Woman
Alexandra Palace Theatre / July 2023
'[Wailing Woman] gave us our first hearing of Francesca Chiejina, the evening’s exceptional soprano, perfectly summoning up a distillation of sadness and anger.'
'And Ye Now Have no Sorrow was superb: singing from memory, Francesca’s performance was rounded and eloquent: her voice never stressed but passionately expressive.'
David Winskill, HamHigh
Scottish Opera, March 2023
“The only principal to sing in all three operas was Francesca Chiejina, her Young Lover (Tabarro) and her Sister Genovieffa (Angelica) constituting a delicious hors d’oeuvre for a beautifully composed and characterized Lauretta (Schicchi): this soprano has stage presence and a voice of great promise.”
Andrew Clark, Opera
"splendidly characterised by Francesca Chiejina – draws our attention when she goes to the window wanting to see the sun shining on the garden below – and her beautifully sung aria marks her out as a star of the future."
"Amongst the characters, it is the show-stopping aria of Francesca Chiejina as Lauretta (‘O mio babbino caro’) which highlights the talent heard earlier in Suor Angelica."
Gregor Tassie, Seen and Heard International
"Francesca Chiejina was showstopping in Lauretta's “O mio babbino caro”.
David Smythe, bachtrack
"Francesca Chiejina (Lauretta) eschews milking ‘O mio babbino caro’, the best-known song in the evening, and sings with a forthright winsomeness"
Catriona Graham, The Opera Critic
"Il Trittico sports a truly impressive lineup of Scottish Opera debuts, including additional standouts Francesca Chiejina"
Rho Chung, The Skinny
"Francesca Chiejina sings a gorgeously creamy Lauretta."
Simon Thompson, The Times
"a heart-winning Francesca Chiejina, as both sweet ingenue Sister Genovieffa, and Schicchi’s daughter Lauretta complete with a delightful rendition of “O mio babbino caro”
W J Quinn, The Quinntessential Review
Crystal Pite's Light of Passage (Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs)
Royal Opera House, October 2022
With soprano Francesca Chiejina's celestial voice suspended above the orchestra’s shimmering, mournful music, you might feel as if you’re transcending
Lyndsey Winship, The Guardian ★★★★
McNally, clutching a bundled coat in place of a lost child, enacts a heart-rending solo to the Virgin’s lament for her son powerfully sung (from the pit) by American soprano Francesca Chiejina.
Louise Levene, The Financial Times ★★★★
Pite’s choreography is here at its most graceful and gorgeous; Gorecki’s third movement (Francesca Chiejina, the solo soprano) is lamenting but consoling.
Debra Craine, The Times ★★★★★
In 2017, the Canadian created Flight Pattern for the Royal Ballet to the first movement of Henryk Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs; now she has returned to add Covenant and Passage to the last two movements, responding perfectly to the music (conducted by Zoi Tsokanou and sung, beautifully, by Francesca Chiejina). The three sections are separate but linked by the idea of passage.
Sarah Crompton, The Guardian ★★★★★
Aida (High Priestess)
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, September 2022
Special praise too for the sumptuously sung High Priestess of Francesca Chiejina, a recognisably five-star voice, even if only heard from offstage.
Clive Paget Limelight Magazine
And three cheers for soprano Francesca Chiejina, never visible but singing off-stage with clarity and mystery as the High Priestess. Hear her again when the Royal Ballet dances the new Crystal Pite full-length work in October and November, to Gorecki’s Symphony No 3.
Claudia Pritchard, Culture Whisper
In Sung Sim made his mark as the King, whilst Francesca Chiejina intoned the offstage Priestess’ part to perfection – her silvery voice carrying well into the house.
Keith McDonnell, Music OMH
La bohème (Mimì)
Nevill Holt Opera, June 2022
With her striking vocal quality and personality, Francesca Chiejina’s Mimi was thus placed at the centre of the action. She opened the show, remaining alone on stage for some moments before the action began, clearly ill with the mortal disease that takes her life at the end of the opera’s inescapable emotional trajectory.
George Hall, Opera Now Magazine
Nigerian-American soprano Francesca Chiejina’s is a superior Mimi, soaring above the score.
Lorien Haynes, The Telegraph
Francesca Chiejina has great presence as Mimì with her soprano possessing a very full and rounded tone.
Sam Smith, Music OMH ****
Chiejina is an apt performer to assume this intensifying of the traditional, more passive conception of the character; throughout the performance she fulfils all dramatic and vocal requirements.
George Hall, The Stage ****
La bohème (Mimì)
English Touring Opera, February - June 2022
...audiences who catch Francesca Chiejina on the company’s 14-venue tour of England this spring will hear a Mimi as beguiling as any I’ve encountered in recent years. The Nigerian-American phrased exquisitely and used her silvery soprano to explore the character’s vulnerability with an ideal blend of sweetness and melancholy. For a role debut it was enchanting.
Mark Valencia, Opera Magazine
There’s one standout voice, and that is Francesca Chiejina as Mimì. She has a warm, sumptuous tone and plenty of power up top…
Richard Morrison, The Times
Though boasting a sumptuous voice […] Francesca Chiejina is not the sort of soprano who craves being the centre of attention, making her Mimi ideally empathetic. One of the best recent alumnae of Covent Garden’s Jette Parker Young Artists Programme, she has the power to ride the orchestra where needed.
John Allison, The Telegraph ****
Vocally, Francesca Chiejina outshines all. Her Mìmì has a calm core that is heightened by the boisterous bantering and an inner radiance that can’t be dimmed by sickness or sadness. Sì, mi chiamano Mimì brings a lovely softness into the artists’ attic, and Chiejina and Botelho sing O soave fanciulla with persuasive feeling.
Claire Seymour, The Stage ****
Francesca Chiejina stood out as Mimì in a performance that displayed control over an ample instrument; we were treated to some fine pianissimi as Chiejina filed down her voice to the most delicate of threads and there was plenty of tonal variety to lend real character to her role.
Dominic Lowe, Bachtrack ****
…Chiejina’s voice soars gorgeously; her pathos when disease takes hold is properly heart-rending.
Michael Church, The i *****
As Mimì, Francesca Chiejina displays her wide range: there is light and shade, power and subtlety and a strong sense of acting through the voice.
Nick Kimberley, Evening Standard
The soprano Francesca Chiejina, who plays Mimi, is amazing. Her voice entrances the audience, conveying so clearly the tumultuous emotions of Mimi.
Alanah Hammond, Muse
Francesca Chiejina, making her role debut as Mimi, combined a lovely warm, creamy vocal tone with a sense of reticence but also self-possession. In Act One, she allowed Luciano Botelho's Rodolfo to make the running, but it was a deliberate decision. Their concluding sequence in that act (his aria, her aria, the duet) was beautifully sung, yet also felt quite naturally believable, heightened conversation as it should be.
Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill ****1/2
Mimi, whose tiny hand is certainly frozen in the bleak setting of the first act, is movingly sung by Francesca Chiejina, who gradually builds the role until by the end she has totally succeeded in making us feel involved with her fate and that of Rodolpho.
John Groves, London Theatre One *****
Francesca Chiejina’s Mimì was the vocal highlight of the evening and a superlative performance in its own right. She was unerringly precise in intonation and showcased a remarkable range of colors across the voice – not least lower down, with some especially honeyed moments. Soft moments were especially impressive – there is little more exciting than really quiet singing – and could be both glassy and crystalline or tender and silken, depending on the moment. Her very final scene demonstrated an extraordinary level of sustained dynamic control, the volume ebbing and melting away ever so gradually over her final passages. She will surely go from strength-to-strength in this role.
Benjamin Poore, Opera Wire
English Touring Opera, October 2021
The opera’s greatness lies in Handel’s delineation of Dardano and Melissa as tragic protagonists unrequited in love, and the performances here are strong. Chiejina is exceptional, whether attempting seduction, conjuring up Furies or giving voice to lonely despair.
Tim Ashley, The Guardian
[Melissa], sung with confidence, beauty of tone, and flexibility by Francesca Chiejina...
Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times
[Amadigi] is a more entertaining work than its unfamiliarity may suggest. It’s one of Handel’s magic operas, its story a typically convoluted mixture of frustrated love affairs, but the dominating role of the sorceress Melissa, well sung by rich-voiced soprano Francesca Chiejina, casts a potent spell throughout (her death scene is musically most original).
Richard Fairman, Financial Times
Francesca Chiejina, as Melissa, flouncing around in garish orange, also excelled at following Handel’s genius for digging beneath the characters’ surfaces, making us share the sorceress’s own pain at getting nowhere loving Amadigi for herself.
Geoff Brown, The Times ****
The most interesting character is Melissa, whose heart is suffused with sorrow and sadism in equal measure – emotions which the Nigerian-American soprano Francesca Chiejina communicates with captivating strength, inspiring scorn and sympathy alike. Chiejina’s rich and full-bodied soprano is flexible and easily encompasses the role’s wide range, allowing her to capture the emotional extremes between which Melissa fluctuates. Thus, the beseeching phrases of the first section of Melissa’s opening aria convey the anguish which Amadigi’s rejection afflicts, but such tenderness is swept aside by tempestuousness in the fiery threats that follow. Chiejina’s suppleness and gleaming tone at the top serve her well in the fiery rage aria, with obbligato trumpet, that closes Act 2 – a virtuosic exultation in violent savagery. In contrast, her final arioso ebbs painfully, the interpretative details deeply affecting.
Claire Seymour, Opera Today
Melissa, the sorceress, is flexibly sung by Francesca Chiejina...
John Groves, London Theatre One
Berg's Seven Early Songs with the Sinfonia of London
BBC Proms, September 2021
Emerging out of the Debussyean, whole-tone haze at the start of “Nacht”, Chiejina’s mellow, liquid flow of sound surged and rippled, easy and unforced in this huge space. This was storytelling from within, voice just another line – sometimes exposed, sometimes concealed – within a constantly shifting orchestral texture: a smudgy chalk-drawing replacing the precision of Strauss’s opening pen and ink.
Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk, 5 September 2021
Fin-de-siècle Vienna followed, with the crepuscular atmosphere of Nacht from Berg’s Seven Early Songs replete with memory and portent. Francesca Chiejina was the soprano soloist, her voice glinting with beauty amid the miraculous orchestrations.
Rebecca Franks, The Times, 6 September 2021
Francesca Chiejina was the soloist in Berg’s Seven Early Songs. Hers is a sweetly lyrical voice, secure in all registers, even in the higher tessitura of Die Nachtigall...
Alexander Hall, Bachtrack, 5 September 2021
Francesca Chiejina was the soprano [....] the sound itself is exquisite.
Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 5 September 2021
Francesca Chiejina's Concert Repertoire
Knoxville: Summer of 1915
Seven Early Songs
Symphony no. 3
Four Last Songs
Serenade to Music
Francesca Chiejina's Opera Repertoire
Miss Jessel, The Turn of the Screw
|Brook adapted from Bizet||
Micaela, La tragédie de Carmen
Clara, Porgy and Bess
Serena, Porgy and Bess
Title Role, Semele
Title Role, Alcina
Melantho / Love, The Return of Ulysses
Arbate, Mitridate, re di Ponto
Antonia, Les contes d'Hoffmann
Mimì, La bohème
Lauretta, Gianni Schicchi
Ann Trulove, The Rake's Progress
High Priestess, Aida
Countess Ceprano, Rigoletto
Voice from Heaven, Don Carlo
Ines, Il Trovatore
Freia, Das Rheingold
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