After two summers as an apprentice at the Santa Fe Opera, the career of Soprano Celena Shafer was launched to critical raves as Ismene in Mozart’s Mitridate, Re di Ponto. Anne Midgette in the New York Times wrote, “It takes the debutante Celena Shafer, an alumna of the apprentice program here, to show how it should be done, singing the Oriental princess Ismene with flair, vocal balance and great cadenzas.”
Since that breakthrough debut, Ms. Shafer has garnered acclaim for her silvery voice, fearlessly committed acting and phenomenal technique. She spends much of her time on the concert stage and has appeared with the orchestras in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Los Angeles with leading conductors such as Christoph von Dohnanyi, Alan Gilbert, Bernard Labadie, Robert Spano, Nicholas McGegan, Kent Nagano, Donald Runnicles, Michael Tilson Thomas, David Robertson and Sir Andrew Davis.
During the 2015/2016 season she appears at the Britt Festival in Oregon for Carmina Burana led by Teddy Abrams, Barqoue arias with the Alabama Symphony led by Gary Wedow, Handel's Messiah with the New Jersey Symphony and Jacques Lacombe, Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass with the Phoenix Symphony and Tito Munoz, and Beethoven Symphony No. 9 with the Kansas City Symphony and Michael Stern.
A celebrated artist in her home state of Utah, Ms. Shafer has a long relationship with the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera where during the 2014/2015 season she was Artist-in-Residence with the Symphony and returns in the 2015/16 season for Beethoven Symphony No. 9 and a New Year's concert, both with music director Thierry Fischer.
Over the past decade with the Utah Symphony & Opera she has performed operatic roles including Constanze in The Abduction from the Seraglio, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, GIlda in Rigoletto, Norina in Don Pasquale, Lisette in La Rondine, Tytania in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Adele in Die Fledermaus; and orchestral works such as Mahler Symphonies 2 and 4 and the Big 5 tour of Utah's great state parks, the Brahms German Requiem, the Bach Maginicat and wedding cantata Jauchzet Gott in Allen Landen, Vivaldi Glorida, Poulenc Gloria and several concerts of chamber music with conductors such as Bernard Labadie, Raymond Leppard, and former music director Keith Lockhart.
Some of her operatic highlights include Johanna in Sweeney Todd for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Blonde in Abduction from the Seraglio with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Aithra in Die ägyptische Helena with the American Symphony Orchestra recorded for Telarc, Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos at the Concertgebouw, Nanetta in Falstaff with the Los Angeles Opera, and Gilda in Rigoletto with the Welsh National Opera. She has returned to the Santa Fe Opera for productions of Mozart's Lucio Silla, Berlioz's Beatrice and Benedict, and Britten's Albert Herring.