Stephanie Vlahos

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…

from John K

I’m a storyteller.

I have sung opera, self-expressed through performance art, mentored, directed, produced – explored my inner voice.

My creative life has been a journey rather than a port-of-call, and I have found myself in unexpected creative destinations.

Truth is, I’m not unique.

Every artist’s journey is full of insights, and, therefore, artists’ collaborations are fruitful exchanges with far-reaching value. I am interested in assisting expression. I cherish creative perspectives and the camaraderie in sharing the path, if just for a little while.

As a little girl, I sang everywhere my parents took me. I wasn’t performing, I was in a playroom in my head toying with tone and lyric. I was never bored because I could always sing. Every song told a story, and I loved expressing the story through the color and dynamic of my voice. By the time I was sixteen, I was already singing in two professional madrigal groups in Southern Connecticut. That experience taught me something vital – that I wasn’t just a performer, I was a musician and a storyteller. The stories told in the madrigals we sang ranged from the playful and exultant of Praetorius to the emotionally potent motets of Orlando di Lasso and Josquin Deprez as they intertwined with impossibly beautiful consonances and dissonances. They forged a lyrical Elysium. Singing the music of the Renaissance as it transitioned to the Baroque required deep listening and a sense of blending one’s sound with others, not standing out, but working toward a common and beautiful end. It changed my sense of artistry, and impacted my creative sense of direction over the course of my life, albeit unbeknownst to me at the time. When I later sang professional opera, I gravitated to Mozart because his operas were keenly invested in collaborative harmony and the shared experience of comedic irony in lyric and dramatic context – story.

And so I persist. I can’t pack away the impulse to assist creative inspiration. I believe everyone owns that desire, not just artists. I believe everyone should look to speaking to greater truths in whatever way they do.

Γνώθι Σεαυτόν (gnothi seauton) – know yourself, an Ancient Greek adage, one of the Delphic maxims. It continues to ring true.

Do the right thing. Tell meaningful stories. Insist people listen.

That oughta do it, but if you are in need of more, please see Bio below.

Stephanie Vlahos
Stephanie Vlahos

Interview with Joan Quinn – West Coast editor of Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine, Joan’s constant snapshot taking for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner of emerging and established artists. Her ‘The Joan Quinn Profiles’ cable television show created an archive of people in the creative world.

Writer/Creator/Stage Director Stephanie Vlahos brings her accumulated experience in the performing arts/mentorship/and writing to her professional collaborations.  

Working as a writer and a stage director, her skill sets include everything from curation to research to media presentation to storytelling. She believes that a life steeped in the artistic process can lend insight and impact in unexpected mediums and technologies.

Professional Journey

Singer

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, coaching and mentoring students in theatre technique and voice for a number of years.  

Stephanie’s work has always emphasized the theater in music. In her early years as professional opera singer, Stephanie sang principal roles in opera houses nationally and internationally, while deeply thankful for her longstanding relationship with LA Opera singing countless principle and supporting roles from Suzuki to Nicklaus while exploring her craft as a young singer. 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 an artist’s residency at Duke University. Her voice has been featured in films and large brand commercials while she has also made guest appearances as dramatic narrator with orchestra. Her direction of and performances in cabaret-influenced performance art 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

Director

One of 30 artists across the States to be nominated for the prestigious United States Artists Grant for Directing in 2014, Stephanie is recognised for her unique staging of classical work such as La Boheme with Lyric Opera Virginia, and Britten’s Little Sweep in collaboration with Maestro James Conlon, not to mention a work for the Confucius Institute conceived and directed by Stephanie entitled Pacific Cinderella that premiered in Hangzhou, China in 2013.  Pacific Cinderella was a collaborative work focused on commonality and cultural exchange through the arts. Stephanie has directed opera, theatre, and event shows from sold-out performances of operas for California State University to critically successful Equity theatre productions   

—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 Strad e

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. Her hybrid production with freely conceived lyrics by Stephanie and interpolated pop songs by young high school students entitled, Carmen High (after the opera Carmen), was not only featured in Getty Images with a rave review from Broadway World, it also received 5-stars at the Edinburgh Fringe.  

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 through education, Stephanie created a project at the LA County High School for the Arts, Full Circle Opera Project, dedicated to the outreach of opera not only by encouraging young singers to experience opera in performing grand opera themselves but through their own unique prism.  Full Circle Opera Project earned a generous 15-year grant from the Thornton Foundation and was acknowledged as ground-breaking by the LA Board of Supervisors in addition to winning countless 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.  Among other engagements, she is proud to have served on the Thornton School of Music, Board of Councilors at USC.  In addition to her work as a Stage Director, Stephanie helped establish the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program at LA Opera where she was Theatre Director and Coach for 5 years. She has performed in that capacity at a number of universities such as the Opera Institute at the Bob Cole Conservatory CSULB, USC, and UCLA, and consults new young artist programmes.  

Stephanie is currently based in Edinburgh where she is working on a variety of projects with folks from both the States and the UK.

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