Writer and Performer
I am a witless forger of my fate, a fate that should have been about touching a life, providing someone insight into their humanity, reminding whomever that all of us are everything. We are all, we are…John K.
How does the artist walk into the virtual space? What are its dimensions? How do we reinvent yet remain true to our art, personalizing the interface between audience and artist?
Let’s find a new way to break the Fourth Wall, not by displacing the irreplaceable live exchange, but to create a democracy of self-curation that invites the audience to explore our unique voices in all of their modes of exploration.
Art has walked hand-in-hand with society from prehistoric times. It’s the outlet for points of free-reflection on life and spirituality–sometimes a question, sometimes a truth. The instinct to imagine, to put a shape or sound or poetic scheme to amorphous inspiration is limitless and given to everyone. It’s important that we never lose nor devalue that great gift in being human.
I believe the virtual space is an untapped opportunity for speaking to and through one’s art.
I also believe we can’t walk toward the future if we don’t eagerly embrace what it has to offer. Just as a visual artist might work in oils and then defect to assemblage or video, the virtual platform offers so many opportunities for expression and for engagement.
Our lives are our creation, our art follows.
Professional Journey (Bio)
As a former professional opera singer with a crossover edge, Stephanie’s early career ranged in its collaborative work with artists such as Pierre Boulez, Andre Previn, Van Dyke Parks, John Adams, Ry Cooder, Jeff Bridges, Walter Hill, Maury Yeston, Sir Peter Hall, Peter Sellars, Andre Serban, Jonathan Miller, Danny Elfman, Case Scaglione, and Music Producer David Was, to name a few. These collaborations led Stephanie to further explore performance art, while coaching and mentoring students in theatre technique and voice for a number of years.
Stephanie’s work emphasises the theater in music. In her early years as professional opera singer, Stephanie sang principal roles in opera houses nationally and internationally. She is grateful for her longstanding relationship with LA Opera, providing her with countless principle and supporting roles from Suzuki to Nicklaus. She has been a featured soloist with outstanding orchestras and festivals such as the LA Phil, St Paul Chamber Orchestra, Pacific Symphony, and the Ojai Festival. Her national and international tours include Carmen (title role) with San Francisco Opera, European engagements of Nixon in China, most notably, a residency at the Maison de la Culture in Bobigny, France. A recipient of the Chanel Diva Award, Stephanie’s interest in early 20th century German Expressionist music brought her to solo opportunities in concert on National Public Radio as well as artist’s residency at Duke University. Her voice has been featured in films and large brand commercials. Her work was performance artist in cabaret-influenced one-woman shows were highly acclaimed by the LA Times and Variety, earning her the moniker of the moonlighting Diva by the Associated Press, and resulting in an invitation to tour her show Completely Weill in Greece where she was also featured in a Nicholas Triandafillydis film, Mavro Gala, premiering at the Cannes Festival in 2004.
Never mind that the majority of the arias are sung in German–Vlahos transcends language. She has an uncanny ability to make each word, each line, each syllable reach into your soul, until you can no longer deny the pure human experience. Vlahos is a rare and distinct talent–both an outstanding actress and a singer with a voice so overwhelming you end up just in awe of the raw talent.—Lexy Spett, LA Weekly
One of 30 artists across the States to be nominated for the prestigious United States Artists Grant for Directing in 2014, Stephanie has directed opera, theatre, and event shows from sold-out performances of operas for California State University to critically successful Equity theatre productions. She is recognised for unique staging of classical work such as La Boheme and Romeo and Juliet with Lyric Opera Virginia, and Britten’s Little Sweep in collaboration with conductor James Conlon, not to mention a work for the Confucius Institute conceived and directed by Stephanie entitled Pacific Cinderella, premiering in Hangzhou, China in 2013. Pacific Cinderella focused on commonality and cultural exchange through the arts.
—Stephanie Vlahos, is a former professional opera singer herself, and her knowledge of the interplay between teacher and student is probably more authentic than you’ll encounter in most revivals of Marans’ work. She has found two actors in Towey and Danz who convincingly play and sing their own music without relying on recordings and they are no less convincing in their spoken dialogue. This is a remarkable revival of a play that appears to be close to achieving classic stature.LA STAGE TIMES – DON SHIRLEY, Old Wicked Songs.
— director Stephanie Vlahos reworks genre conventions to delicately rubato effect.—DAVID NICHOLS – LA TIMES – The Morini Strade
Opera Posse and Mentorship
Stephanie’s boutique company, Opera Posse, hit the ground running with a critically-acclaimed production of Amahl and the Night Visitors at California’s State Theatre, the Pasadena Playhouse, with Malcolm McDowell reading A Child’s Christmas in Wales, followed by her hybrid production, Carmen High (after the opera Carmen), receiving 5-stars at the Edinburgh Fringe and featured in Getty Images.
Perhaps not for the died-in-the-wool purist, Carmen HIGH is a refreshingly new take on an old form that allows a classic to speak to new generations of audiences. Told without the aid of props or set elements, it relies on the gifts of its performers who deliver performances that are not only exciting but are a window into what afflicts us at the very core – intolerance, prejudice, and fear.”—Barbara Stucker, Broadway World
A passionate advocate of outreach, Stephanie created a project at the LA County High School for the Arts, Full Circle Opera Project, encouraged young singers to experience opera by performing grand opera themselves but through their own unique lens. Full Circle Opera Project earned a generous 15-year grant from the Thornton Foundation collectively earning over a million dollars designated to encouraging the relatability of opera and its value as a classical form. Acknowledged as ground-breaking by the LA Board of Supervisors, in addition to winning several Macy awards. “I have learned more about myself as an artist through mentorship than from all my years as a performer.”
“…the production of The Tales of Hoffmann was nothing less than inspiring. The passion of these young performers leapt across the footlights and grabbed the audience by the throats. The level of artistry from voices to acting to set design was impressive.”– David Bowman, Editor-in-Chief Performances Magazine
“…a lively, beautifully staged, stark and vigorous facsimile of both drama and music…directed by Stephanie Vlahos, who has sung roles with the L.A. Opera”– Alan Rich, LA Weekly
Stephanie earned an academic degree in music at Yale University with further vocal studies at The Juilliard School. She served on the Thornton School of Music, Board of Councilors at USC and the Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program at LA Opera where she was Theatre Director and Coach for 5 years in its inception. She has consulted at a number of universities (Opera Institute at the Bob Cole Conservatory CSULB, USC, and UCLA, and continues to consult young artist programmes). Former students range from HAIM (the band) to Broadway performers to Metropolitan Opera singers.
Stephanie is currently based in Edinburgh where she is working on a variety of projects with folks from both the States and the UK. She is also invested in how artists can walk into the virtual space and to extend their reach.
Related Awards/Symposiums, Committees:
6-time awardee in Who’s Who in American Teachers, Drama Desk Award for best actress (Tales of Hoffmann), Stanford University Recognition of Inspiring Teacher, Boston University Symposium for the Center for Artistry and Scholarship, Judge and Masterclasses for Los Angeles Spotlight Awards, AFI films, NATS, USC Thornton Board of Councilors, Martin Benson Award for Best Director of a Drama 2015