Singer Spotlight: Briana Hunter

Singer Spotlight: Briana Hunter

Mezzo-soprano Briana Hunter released her latest album, Dispersed and Transcendental Chants featuring pianist Eric Sedgwick on November 17, 2023. Drawing inspiration from the rich cultural, religious, and spiritual traditions of the African diaspora, the song cycle comprises 12 pieces, composed by Colombian composer, Julián De La Chica. The cycle integrates poems written by Hunter herself, and artist Rae De Vine. It explores the connection between past, present, and future, offering a powerful study of the human experience and Black experience. 

“We are everyone who came before us and everyone who will be. I think this cycle really achieves this effect,” Hunter notes. When asked about how this unique project originated, Hunter adds that it began with wanting to commission a piece and potentially record an album. “I knew I didn’t want to make an ‘opera’s greatest mezzo hits’ type of album. I wanted to create something that was vulnerable, intimate, and depicted my own personal journey. The way I connect with my own history, my ancestry, and my upbringing and how that makes me a unique artist. I suppose I was also on a personal mission to find myself and explore corners within which I hadn’t had the courage or time to observe. I had come across an album Julian had done with soprano Rachel Hippert, 12 Experimentelle und unbestimmte Lieder. I was absolutely entranced by the minimalist style of composition yet the enormous emotional impact of the cycle. I knew I would love to do something like that. I went to his website, emailed him, we met at a coffee shop downtown and the rest is history. Moral of the story, never be afraid to cold call another artist about a collaboration. They may say no, but they might also say yes,” Hunter concludes.

Previous to the album release, the cycle Dispersed and Transcendental Chants had its premiere in December 2022, with a live performance at Merkin Concert Hall, Kaufman Music Center in New York City.

Hunter hopes this new album will help listeners “release or tap into something within themselves they need. I hope they experience catharsis. I hope it makes them curious. I hope it helps them feel. I hope it finds the ones who need it.”

Besides working on this deeply personal recording project, Hunter returns to the Metropolitan Opera in the 2023/2024 season to sing multiple roles, including Mercedes in their new production of Carmen, Sister Lilianne in Dead Man Walking, Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, and Ruby/Woman Sinner in Fire Shut Up in My Bones. As an Artist Propulsion Lab Fellow with WQXR, Hunter is currently involved in multiple projects, and most recently featured in their Young Artists Showcase.

Hunter made her Carnegie Hall debut during the 2021/2022 season in an acclaimed performance of Julia Perry’s Stabat Mater with The Orchestra Now. In the 2022/2023 season, Hunter made her debut at the Los Angeles Opera as Katie Ellen in Omar and performed as the Witch in Into the Woods with Intermountain Opera. She returned to the Washington National Opera as the Mother in Blue, a role she originated in the opera’s premiere. During the summer season, she performed as a soloist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and later joined the Cincinnati Opera as Aisha in The Knock. She has also received recognition as a Lotte Lenya Competition finalist and winner of the Lys Symonette Award from The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music. Hunter obtained her Master of Music from the Manhattan School of Music and a Bachelor of Arts from Davidson College.

In the midst of a busy, diverse career and a bright future, Hunter reflects that “No one singer’s career path is the same. We set goals for ourselves and we train so hard to reach them, and then you accomplish it and the question becomes what’s next?  You have to ask yourself, am I artistically fulfilled doing this one thing or the other? Am I fulfilled in life if this is the entire sum? There are a lot of answers and ways to create a career and a life. It’s so individual. For me, I have always known it wasn’t enough for me just to sing, but I wanted to be a part of creating works from their inception. I definitely see my career continuing to evolve this way. I’d love to produce even more.”

Looking at the possibilities ahead, Hunter shares that she would love to be a part of imagining and innovating new ways to bring live art to people in the world. “I want to be a part of experimenting with new business models for live performing arts. I would like to keep a toe in producing and performing in works that tell new and important stories about our lives today. The two, for me, are inextricably linked.”

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Eugenia Forteza

Eugenia Forteza is a French-Argentinean Mezzo-Soprano, Actor, Influencer, Writer and Producer based in NYC. In 2016, Eugenia founded the popular social media platform dedicated to the behind the scenes of the opera world, @360ofOpera. Eugenia enjoys a versatile international career in opera, concert, theatre and film, which has taken her worldwide from NYC’s Carnegie Hall to Singapore’s Wild Rice Theatre and beyond. Follow Eugenia on Social Media at @fortezaeugenia & @360ofOpera. For more information, please visit