Coloratura soprano Kelli Butler is no stranger to the stage, whether it be in opera, recital, or musical theatre. Raised in a multitude of locales, including Germany & most of the Eastern US, as a child of a military family, she was exposed at a young age to opera and developed a love for it during her teenage years. During her undergraduate studies at the Purchase College Opera Conservatory, she sang principal roles including the Queen of the Night (Die Zauberflőte), Adele (Die Fledermaus), and the title role in The Merry Widow, as well as the Dew Fairy in their award-winning adaptation of Hansel and Gretel.
After graduating from conservatory, Ms. Butler began studying with acclaimed Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Shirley Love at her studio in Westchester County. After a few months of study, she was accepted into Renata Scotto’s summer academy, where she studied bel canto repertoire with Ms. Scotto. This was followed by travelling 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 under the tutelage of Ms. Love. Among these recitals, Ms. Butler was honored to perform in what was the first operatic performance given in the historic Teatro Alfieri since its renovation and reopening.
2008 saw Ms. Butler’s 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. In that same year, she made the first of many concert appearances with the respected New Rochelle Opera, under the artistic direction of Camille Coppola; with NRO, she appeared frequently in concert singing excerpts from roles such as Musetta (La bohème), Cunegonde (Candide), Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Gilda (Rigoletto), and Juliette (Roméo et Juliette).
In early 2010, Ms. Butler returned to her alma mater, Purchase Opera Conservatory, as a guest artist for a newly staged Die Zauberflőte, in the role she originally sang as a freshman – the Queen of the Night. This new staging, under the direction of Jacque Trussel and the baton of Maestro Hugh Murphy, won acclaim and awards from the National Opera Association. Later that year, she made her New York City debut as the First Lady in another staging of Die Zauberflőte with the Martina Arroyo Foundation.
2011 saw Ms. Butler return to New Rochelle Opera, this time as Adele in their mainstage production of Die Fledermaus. This production featured the wonderful guest artistry of longtime Metropolitan Opera singer (and current Boardwalk Empire cast member) Anthony Laciura. The following year, Ms. Butler completed a young artist program with Bel Canto at Caramoor as one of their Apprentice Artists, where she appeared in their opening night performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, featuring Bebe Neuwirth. She was also featured as a soloist in one of Caramoor’s Bel Canto at Caramoor Young Artist concerts, “Bel Canto a Due.”
In May 2013, Ms. Butler made her debut with Underworld Opera NYC as Riccardo in the rarely-seen Scarlatti opera Il trionfo dell’onore. In November 2013 she finished a sold-out and extended run playing the Lady of the Lake in Spamalot with the Curtain Call Theatre in Stamford, CT, marking her first musical theatre appearance in the tristate area.
In 2014, she debuted at Symphony Space in New York City as Dinah in Underworld Opera’s critically-acclaimed production of Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti. In July of the same year, she made her debut appearance with The Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice in their prestigious Voices of Distinction concert, singing with luminaries of the opera world including Brian Asawa and Toby Newman.
November 2016 saw Ms. Butler creating the role of the District Attorney for renowned composer Anthony Davis’ new opera Five, based on the Central Park Five rape case of 1989 and the miscarriage of justice that followed. The opera and premiere was featured in a PBS documentary chronicling its creation, the surrounding racial and political undertones, and the premiere merely 3 days following the election of Donald Trump, a key player in the wrongful conviction of the Five.
Ms. Butler currently resides in Westchester County, New York, with her husband Justin and their highly illogical cat Bones (who likes to continually remind them he’s a cat, not a doctor). She continues her vocal studies with Shirley Love and the acclaimed Canadian soprano Susan Eichhorn Young.