"...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 recent 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. She also sang Micaëla La tragédie de Carmen at Wilton’s Music Hall, Melantho/Love The Return of Ulysses at the Roundhouse, and the soprano solos in Gorecki’s Third Symphony for the world premiere of a new work by renowned choreographer Crystal Pite for The Royal Ballet, and covered Ifigenia Oreste, Antonia Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Giannetta L’elisir d’amore, and Arbate Midridate, re di Ponto.
In the 2022/23 season she sings High Priestess Aida at Royal Opera House and Lauretta Il Trittico with Scottish Opera. She also sings Górecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs for New Crystal Pite with Royal Ballet at Royal Opera House and Tippett's A Child of Our Time with Cambridge Philharmonic Society.
Recent operatic highlights include 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); Cio-Cio San Madama Butterfly (scenes) at Guildhall School of Music and Drama; and Pamina Die Zauberflöte, Berta Il barbiere di Siviglia, Countess Le nozze di Figaro (scenes) and Alice Ford Falstaff (scenes), all at the University of Michigan.
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, Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs with Imperial College Symphony Orchestra at Cadogan Hall, Bach’s St John Passion with Huddersfield Choral Society and Manchester Camerata, 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 BBC Proms; and Schubert’s Winterreise in recital at Blackheath Halls.
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. She has received Loveday, Marianne Falke, Maurice H and Evangeline L Dumesnil, George Shirley Voice and Willis-Patterson Scholarships.
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.
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
Birmingham Opera Company, July 2021
…Francesca Chiejina’s vulnerable Freia supplied the evening’s most radiant singing.
Hugh Canning, Opera Magazine
...the vulnerable Freia, ransom for the giants’ non-payment, made more of an impact than usual in Francesca Chiejina’s soaring lyricism. If BOC move on to Valkyrie, she would surely make a good Sieglinde...
David Nice, The Arts Desk
The Turn of the Screw (Miss Jessel)
OperaGlass Works (film), January 2021
The unearthly beauty of Murray’s and Chiejina’s singing adds immeasurably to the sense of evil the pair of them generate.
Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 30 January 2021
Francesca Chiejina’s intense, vulnerable Miss Jessel
Neil Fisher, The Times, 29 January 2021
[Quint’s] evil machinations were supported by Francesca Cheijina’s Miss Jessel in a velvety and haunting portrayal.
Benjamin Poore, OperaWire, 30 January 2021
Francesca Chiejina's sumptuously sung Miss Jessel
Opera Magazine, April 2021
A pretty flawless cast […] Francesca Chiejina’s Miss Jessel, her luscious voice heavy with illicit experience and knowledge.
Alexandra Coghlan, The Spectator, 30 January 2021
Francesca Chiejina is a voluptuous, seductive Miss Jessel
Hugh Canning, The Times, 31 January 2021
Superb performances from […] Francesca Chiejina’s resolute Miss Jessel
George Hall, The Stage, 28 January 2021
The cast is without weakness [...] Francesca Chiejina and Robert Murray are well paired as the ghostly Miss Jessel and Peter Quint.
Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 1 February 2021
It is also strongly cast … Francesca Chiejina looms forlornly as the unfortunate Miss Jessel
Bayan Northcott, BBC Music Magazine (DVD review)
Royal Albert Hall, December 2020
Outstanding singing from ... the soprano Francesca Chiejina took us into a different plane. Chiejina, with her bell-like tone and megawatt smile, is the Christmas angel we all need this year. “Ye shall find rest unto your souls,” she sang, and immediately made good on the promise.
Neil Fisher, The Times, 16 December 2020
Porgy and Bess (Clara)
Grange Park Opera, June 2019
Though there are no weak links in the cast, the revelation of the night is the Francesca Chiejina’s Clara, vocally luminous with superb diction (there are no surtitles), a wonderfully sympathetic stage presence.
David Gutman, The Stage, 11 June 2019
...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.
Neil Fisher, The Times, 10 June 2019
...Francesca Chiejina's lyrically spellbinding Clara...
George Hall, Opera magazine, August 2019
Francesca Chiejina’s Clara gave us a heart-stoppingly effective “Summertime” at the start of the evening...
Matthew Rye, Backtrack, 10 June 2019
Some of the other characters are outstanding, in particular Francesca Chiejina (recently one of the Jette Parker Young Artists at the Royal Opera House) as a touching and tender Clara, soaring through ‘Summertime’.
Jessica Duchen, The Arts Desk, 10 June 2019
Francesca Chiejina gives goosebump-inducing renditions of the opera's big number "Summertime" throughout.
Fiona Scott, BroadwayWorld, 9 June 2019
…the standard of singing is very high, with several principals really standing out. As Clara, Francesca Chiejina, a former Royal Opera Jette Parker Young Artist, sings ‘Summertime’ with a glistening radiance…
Sam Smith, musicOMH, 10 June 2019
Francesca Chiejina, a Nigerian American, as Clara, sings Summertime with real radiance.
David Mellor, The Daily Mail, 15 June 2019
Recent graduate of the Jette Parker ROH studio, Francesca Chiejina opens the show with a luminous toned "Summertime", the feeling of ease she captures showing off her vocal prowess. This, teamed with a beautiful stage presence, makes her one to watch—she could certainly hold her own in the title role.
Louise Lewis, British Theatre Guide, 8 June 2019
Francesca Chiejina launches the evening with a radiant “Summertime”...
Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 17 June 2019
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