Biography

butterfly-016 INDIRA MAHAJAN, SOPRANO

Marian Anderson Award-winning soprano Indira Mahajan is in demand by opera companies, orchestras and recital presenters worldwide. Praised for her “strongly centered, richly textured soprano” by New York Magazine and her “poignant soprano” for her moving portrayals by The New York Times, the versatile soprano has appeared in venues from Brazil to Malta, Russia to Austria in addition to performing in her native New York City.

One of the finest interpreters of the role of Bess in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Indira Mahajan has received international acclaim for her many performances. The Tageblatt, wrote of her performance at the Grand Théâtre in Luxembourg, “Thanks to her virtuosity in the soaring, vibrant, distinctively striking timbre, Indira Mahajan was absolutely radiant as a graceful, seductive but also vulnerable Bess.”

The 2016-17 season includes a Guest Artist appearance performing from Verdi’s Aida at the Symposium and Musical Tribute to Sylvia Olden Lee at the Schiller Institute in New York City, followed by four performances with the Schiller Institute in New York of Mozart’s Requiem dedicated to the victims of 9/11 which included a live televised performance on 9/11 at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in New York. This season Miss Mahajan includes the title role of Puccini’s Turandot to her repertoire.

During the 2014-15 season Indira Mahajan returned to Russia to perform the role of Bess in Porgy in Bess in a series of concerts in Russia in the cities of Moscow, Perm and Ekaterinburg conducted by Wayne Marshall. She continued singing the role in performances at The Grand Théâtre de Geneva, Switzerland, The Chassè Theater in Breda, Netherlands and Palais des Festivals, Cannes, France. Indira Mahajan joined the roster of Lyric Opera of Chicago for their production of Porgy and Bess.

Concert engagements during the 2014-15 season for Indira Mahajan included appearances as a guest artist with the Klangvokal Musikfestival Dortmund in a concert entitled, “American Nights” at the Konzerthaus Dortmund as well as performing in a Benefit Concert in Watertown, New York, entitled, “A Night of Broadway and Opera” performing the works of Verdi, Puccini, and American Broadway composers.

During the 2013-14 season Miss Mahajan added the title role of Verdi’s Aida to her repertoire performing with the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance bringing the Dayton Opera, Dayton Ballet and the Dayton Philharmonic together, where she previously performed the title roles of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Mimi in La Bohéme and Nedda in I Pagliacci. She also performed the role of Bess in a staged production at the Landestheater Linz in Austria and at the Festival de Wiltz in Luxembourg.

The 2012-13 season, Miss Mahajan performed the role of Bess in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at the Teatro di San Carlo in Italy, in concert at the Malta Arts Festival as well as performances of the role for the first time in South America with conductor Marin Alsop, in her inaugural season as Music Director of the Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo. She was also heard in recital at Kentucky State University with pianist Cliff Jackson.

The Washington Post reviewed her first performances of the role as “sung with brilliance and ardor,” in the Francesca Zambello production at the Washington National Opera and the Los Angeles Opera. Of her appearance in the Dallas Opera production, Opera News wrote “Bess, Indira Mahajan, looked sassy and sexy in her red dress and hit high notes with accuracy and daring.”

As Bess, she has also received international acclaim she has traveled to Europe for performances in France at the Opéra Comique in Paris and the Théâtre de Caen; to Germany for performances at the Staatsoper Hannover, Opera Frankfurt, Deutsches Theater München, Oper Leipzig, Kölner Philharmonie, Komische Oper Berlin, and the Congress Centrum in Hamburg; to the Benelux countries for appearances at the Koninklijk Theater Carré in Amsterdam and at the Grand Théâtre in Luxembourg, as well as festivals in the Canary Islands, Granada, Romania and Tokyo, Japan.

The soprano has appeared in the title role at theaters throughout Italy including the Teatro Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi in Trieste, Teatro Lirio in Cagliari, Teatro Messimo Bellini in Catania and the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples.

She has also performed in concert with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Orchestra Sinfonica Giuseppe Verdi, and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. The soprano has performed Gershwin concerts with the Baltimore Symphony, the San Diego Symphony and with Bobby McFerrin in her debut with the New York Philharmonic. She recently joined Sir Wilard White in a New Year’s Eve Gala at the Mikhailovsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Bernstein and Gershwin program was conducted by Vasily Petrenko.

George Gershwin was influenced by the music of ragtime composer Scott Joplin. Indira Mahajan was featured in Opera News for her performances of the title role in Joplin’s full-length work Treemonisha. Having first performed Treemonisha in Costa Rica, she also appeared in the role with The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra conducted by Joplin scholar Rick Benjamin at both the Stern Grove Festival in San Francisco and at the Carlsen Center in Kansas.

Miss Mahajan’s orchestral repertoire extends from works in the Baroque and Classical periods to the foremost composers of today. She performed the work of Steven Stucky and Gene Scheer’s riveting oratorio August 4, 1964 with the Dallas Symphony, at Meyerson Symphony Hall in Dallas and at Carnegie Hall. A recording of the work, conducted by Jaap van Zweden, is distributed by Naxos.

In demand as a concert artist by internationally-celebrated orchestras, she performed Beethoven’s Symphony no. 9 with Gustavo Dudamel’s Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra in Caracas and with the Korean Broadcast Symphony Orchestra at the United Nations, and Beethoven’s Mass in C with the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Costa Rica.
The soprano performed repertoire ranging from Handel’s Messiah to an all-Gershwin program in performances with the Colorado Symphony. The Sioux City Symphony also engaged her for the Messiah, with a re-engagement for a chamber concert including Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes, op. 52. New York audiences have enjoyed her performances of Bach’s B minor Mass (BWV 232) and the Magnificat (BWV 243), the Brahms and Fauré Requiems, Mozart’s “Coronation” Mass in C (K.317) and Exsultate, jubilate (K. 165), as well as Orff’s fiery Carmina Burana. She was invited to be the featured guest artist in the Alabama Symphony’s festive New Year’s Eve Gala. With the Colorado Chamber Orchestra, the soprano gave her first performances of Harbison’s The Flight into Egypt and Previn’s Honey and Rue, a work that she repeated in a piano-version as part of her debut recital at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Indira Mahajan has also appeared in a benefit recital for Classical Action: Performing Arts Against AIDS in New York.

Indira Mahajan’s operatic repertoire spans an equally wide range; from the great Italian heroines to contemporary American opera. Puccini operas have played a significant role in the soprano’s career. Miss Mahajan was named both the New York City Opera Debut Artist of the year and the Maria Callas Debut Award recipient from the Dallas Opera for her portrayal of Musetta in La bohéme. As a result, the soprano was invited to sing from scenes from the opera in the prestigious Richard Tucker Gala at Lincoln Center conducted by Joseph Colaneri. She also performed the role in staged productions at Orlando Opera, Opera Omaha, Piedmont Opera, Houston’s Opera Ebony conducted by Willie Anthony Waters and on a national tour under the auspices of the New York City Opera’s National Company.

Miss Mahajan was invited to perform the role of Mimi in La bohéme at the Royal Albert Hall in the United Kingdom. The production was directed by three-time Olivier Award-winning director Francesca Zambello and conducted by David Parry. The soprano has also performed the title role in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at Arizona Opera, Dayton Opera and Cedar Rapids Opera where it was recorded and broadcast live in HD by Iowa Public Television. She has performed the title role of Suor Angelica in Jay Lesenger’s production at Chautauqua Opera. Opera audiences also enjoyed New York City performances of Lauretta in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. The soprano’s New York City Opera debut was in a new production of Verdi’s Macbeth directed by Leon Major.

Miss Mahajan first performed the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor in a Di Capo Opera production directed by Michael Capasso and reprised the role with Chautauqua Opera. Reviewing her performance as Lucia, one critic wrote, “Indira Mahajan, was no ordinary singer at all, but one of those extraordinary performers who, as they say, have ‘got it all together’…Most impressive, Mahajan has that rare ability to make each vocal flourish, each musical embellishment seem an extension, even a revelation, of Lucia’s poetic, tormented character. Moreover, the lady sings from her heart.” She performed Verdi’s Violetta in La Traviata for the first time at the Ash Lawn Festival and repeated the role with the Bridgeport Symphony conducted by the distinguished conductor Gustav Meier. She gave her first performances as Gilda in Rigoletto at Di Capo Opera, followed by performances at Fort Worth Opera in a production directed Stephanie Sundine and conducted by Joseph Illick.

Creating and performing leading roles in contemporary operas has drawn upon her extensive musical studies. The soprano created the featured role of Mordeen in the first fully-staged production of Frank Lewin’s opera Burning Bright at the Opera Festival of New Jersey. She performed excerpts of Richard Strauss’ Capriccio and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin at the Colorado Music Festival. She was responsible for the title role is Janácek’s The Cunning Little Vixen at New York City Opera and performed the role of Moppet in the Glimmerglass production of Benjamin Brittin’s Paul Bunyan which was later telecast nationwide “Live From Lincoln Center,” and George Gershwin’s one-act jazz opera Blue Monday with the Colorado Symphony conducted by Marin Alsop. Miss Mahajan performing the role Teresa I in Virgil Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts as well as leading roles in two Metropolitan Opera Guild productions in New York: Different Fields by Mike Reid performed at the New Victory Theater and First Up Opera.

Indira Mahajan first came to public attention as a graduate student at Mannes College of Music in New York City performing Sandrina in La Finta Giardiniera. The New York Post reported that she handled “Mozart’s vehement demands confidently.” She later performed the role of Donna Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Virginia Opera, and at Dallas Opera conducted by Music Director Graeme Jenkins. Additionally, she performed Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro at both Virginia Opera and Opera Carolina. In the Baroque repertoire, she has portrayed the title role of Esther in New York performances of the rarely-performed Handel opera, and appeared in Semele in performances conducted by Joel Revzen.

The soprano began her musical studies as a violinist at age five and later began her vocal studies with her mother, Barbara Mahajan. Miss Mahajan holds a Bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College, a Masters of Music degree and Advanced Diploma of Professional Studies from the Mannes College of Music, and a Diploma from the Accademia Musicale Ottorino Respighi in Assis, Italy. Miss Mahajan dedicated her Marian Anderson Award to her mentor Betty Allen, the late director of The Harlem School for the Arts. She has received numerous vocal awards including the New York City Opera Debut Artist Award, the Maria Callas Debut Artist of the Year Award from the Dallas Opera, the Jensen Foundation Award, the Richard F. Gold Career Grant, First Prize in the Charlie Parker Music and More Classical Vocal Awards, First Place in the Eastern Division of the National Association of Negro Musicians, the University Scholars Award at the New School for Social Research, Third Prize in the New York YWCA Studio Competition, and the Sally Van Lier/Harlem School of the Arts Fellowship for Advanced Study.

October 2016