Coloratura soprano Kelli Butler is no stranger to the stage, whether it be in opera, recital, or musical theatre. As a child from a military family, Kelli was raised in a multitude of locales, including Germany & the Eastern US, where her love of opera blossomed at an early age.
In February 2018, she made her house debut to critical acclaim with St. Petersburg opera as the formidable Königin der Nacht in Die Zauberflöte, a role she has twice shone in with Purchase College Opera; once as a college freshman, and later as a guest artist in an award-winning production; in June of the same year, she made her role debut as Musetta with New Rochelle Opera in La Boheme, where she would also make her role debut of Violetta in La Traviata in June 2019. Kelli’s 2016 season included the world premiere of Anthony Davis’ Five, based on the 1989 Central Park Five rape case and the miscarriage of justice that followed. Kelli was also featured in a PBS documentary chronicling Five’s creation and its premiere. A versatile performer, Kelli has also recently bowed as The Lady of the Lake in Spamalot for the Curtain Call Theater, and debuted at The Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice in their prestigious Voices of Distinction concert.
A familiar face in New York’s opera scene, Kelli is a frequent collaborator with both New Rochelle Opera and Underworld Opera. For New Rochelle Opera she has bowed as Adele in Die Fledermaus (2011) and has appeared frequently in concert, singing excerpts as Gilda (Rigoletto), Musetta (La Boheme), Cunegonde (Candide), and Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier). Kelli debuted with Underworld Opera in 2013 as Riccardo in the rarely-seen Scarlatti opera Il trionfo dell’onore, and returned the next year as Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti at Symphony Space.
Kelli made her New York City debut in 2010 in Die Zauberflöte, this time as Erste Dame, with the Martina Arroyo Foundation Prelude to Performance. She has also apprenticed with Bel Canto at Caramoor, where she appeared in their opening night performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and was featured as a soloist in Caramoor’s Bel Canto at Caramoor Young Artist concerts. Kelli has also trained at Renata Scotto’s summer academy, where she studied bel canto repertoire with Ms. Scotto. This was followed by a trip to Italy in 2007 to perform in Lucca, Barga, and Castelnuovo di Garfagnana in a series of operatic recitals featuring repertoire by Verdi, Puccini, and Donizetti. In 2008 saw her debut with the Altamura/Caruso International Opera Festival, where she both placed as a finalist and portrayed Valencienne in their adaptation of The Merry Widow, under the baton of famed conductor Maestro Anton Coppola.
Kelli studied at the Purchase College Conservatory of Music, where she sang a number of principal roles including the Königin der Nacht (Die Zauberflőte), Adele (Die Fledermaus), Hanna in The Merry Widow, as well as the Dew Fairy in their award-winning adaptation of Hansel and Gretel. She continues her vocal studies with Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Shirley Love and the acclaimed Canadian soprano Susan Eichhorn Young.
Kelli also tweets and creates content under her #OperaGeek brand. She is an active member of the streaming community, appearing regularly on Twitch playing Dungeons & Dragons, Tabletop RPGs, & streaming videogame playthroughs. You can follow her geekery on her Twitter page here.
Kelli currently resides in New York with her husband Justin and their highly illogical pets, Bones & Scotty.