Cynthia Donnell, mezzo-soprano, earned B.M.E. and M.M. performance degrees from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her teachers have been Richard Cox, Charles Lynam, Emma Small and Genevieve McGiffert. Her extensive experience as a soloist in recital, opera, choral, oratorio and orchestral song repertoire includes performances with the North Carolina Symphony, Greensboro Civic Orchestra, Richmond Philharmonic, Richmond Symphony, Austin Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Virginia Opera, Richmond Opera, Fargo-Moorhead Civic Opera, Duluth Symphony, Minneapolis Bach Society, North Carolina Chamber Singers (four-month tour of Western Europe, Scandinavia and the British Isles), Norman Luboff Choir (two tours of the U.S. and Canada as alto soloist and chorister) and the Eastern Music Festival. She has performed in benefit concerts for L’Ecole Ste. Trinité, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. As winner of the Seventh International Sterling Staff Competition she performed more than 25 solo recitals throughout the U.S.
Operatic roles include the Mother in “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” Tisbe in “La Cenerentola,” Second Lady “Die Zauberflöte,” Ulrica in “Un ballo in maschera,” Flora in “La Traviata,” Suzuki in “Madama Butterfly,” Marthe in “Faust,” Zita in “Gianni Schicchi” and Dame Quickly in “Falstaff.” Representative roles in the oratorio repertoire include Handel’s “Messiah” and “Judas Maccabaeus,” Bach’s “Mass in B Minor,” “Johannes-Passion,” “Matthäus-Passion,” “Magnificat” and “Weihnachts-Oratorium,” Mendelssohn’s “Saint Paul” and “Elijah,” Duruflé’s “Requiem,” Verdi’s “Messa da requiem,” Rossini’s “Messe Solennelle,” Prokofiev’s “Alexander Nevsky,” Dvořák’s “Te Deum,” Honneger’s “Le roi David,” Vaughan Williams’ “Magnificat,” Respighi’s “Lauda per Ia Natività” and Haydn’s “Missa in tempore belli” (Paukenmesse) and “Missa in Augustiis” (Lord Nelson).
Master classes have been with Bethany Beardslee, Gérard Souzay, Dalton Baldwin, Paul Sperry, Evelyn Lear, Alexander Alexay, Jerome Hines, Richard Miller and Lee Hoiby. Prizes (Metropolitan Opera Auditions) include the April Axton, Weyerhauser, Bing Foundation, John Meyers and Myra Foundation awards.
Donnell is a church and synagogue musician and a diction clinician. She is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and has been an officer and board member in the NATS Virginia Chapter. Her previous academic appointments were at UNCG, Greensboro, N.C., and Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn. She teaches voice, lyric diction and voice pedagogy at VCU Music.