Soprano Kaileigh Riess joins the roster of 2022 Apprentice Artists at Des Moines Metro Opera this summer, covering the role of Caroline in the world premiere of Kristin Kuster's A Thousand Acres before beginning her tenure as an Emerging Artist with Virginia Opera, where she performs in The Pirates of Penzance (Isabel/Mabel cover), Fellow Travelers (Lucy/Mary Johnson cover), and La Traviata (Annina/Violetta cover and performance). She has been seen most recently on the operatic stage as Maria Bertram in Mansfield Park and as Anne Trulove in The Rake's Progress with the Boston University Opera Institute.
Last season, Kaileigh was named the The Lys Symonette Award Winner in the 2021 Lotte Lenya Competition, 3rd place winner in the Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition, Boston District winner in the 2021 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and First Place Winner of the inaugural Wilkinson Young Singer's Fund. Last summer, she attended The Music Academy of the West as a vocal fellow, appearing in Living Voices: an afternoon of song, Mirrorflores: Cinematic Opera, the Marilyn Horne Song Competition, and in a masterclass with Ms. Horne herself.
Other engagements cancelled due to COVID-19 include Monica (The Medium), Servilia (La Clemenza di Tito), La pastourelle/ La chouette (L’enfant e les sortilèges), Lola (Gallantry), and the cover of Gretel (Hänsel und Gretel). During the pandemic, Kaileigh participated in many virtual performances including Boston University’s Virtual Fringe Festival and Seaglass Theatre Company's virtual programming.
Kaileigh received a Master of Music from the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, where she performed the roles of Contessa Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro) and Morgana (Alcina). During her time in LA, Kaileigh made her professional recital debut with pianist Brent McMunn at the Boston Court Theatre of Pasadena as one of their Emerging Artists of 2019.
In her two summers as a studio artist with Central City Opera, Kaileigh performed the roles of Lola (Gallantry) in which she was reviewed as "the standout...an engaging singer and actor [who] plays enthusiastically off the others" (Daily Camera, 2017), Rose (Later the Same Evening), and Silver Dollar (The Ballad of Baby Doe). There, she received the Young Artist Award for Excellence in 2016 and the Dorsey Family Award in 2017. Kaileigh spent the following summer covering Adina in Tel Aviv Summer Opera’s production of L’elisir d’amore and singing in their musical theatre concert, Liederabend, and masterclass series.
At Northwestern University, where she received a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance and a Bachelor of Arts in English, Kaileigh sang the role of Laurie Moss in The Tender Land and was hailed by The Chicago Tribune as "appealing and fresh voiced." Other roles at Northwestern include Blanche de la Force (Dialogues of the Carmelites), Mrs. Gleaton (Susannah), Trio Soprano (Trouble in Tahiti), and Elaine O'Neill in the Chicago Premiere performance of John Musto's Later the Same Evening. During her time at Northwestern, Kaileigh also sang Francis Poulenc's La voix humaine in a fully staged recital and performed in masterclasses with soprano Susanna Phillips and composer Jake Heggie.
Kaileigh has a passion for interpreting new music and worked closely with composer Timothy Peterson and poet Sara Fetherolf in the creation and world premiere of Harp My Bones, a song cycle for voice, piano, and e-bow. She has sung Mary Landrieu in The Katrina Ballads, performing alongside composer Ted Hearne at Northwestern University’s New Music Conference (NUNC! 2). Also at Northwestern, Kaileigh sang in the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble (BCE) under the direction of Donald Nally—Grammy award winning conductor of The Crossing. Under Dr. Nally’s direction, Kaileigh performed in the world premiere of David Lang's a house, the midwest premieres of both John Luther Adams’s Sila: The Breath of the World and James MacMillan’s St. John Passion, and in Chicago's Ear Taxi Festival. Other favorite performances of contemporary music include Caroline Shaw’s Partita and Kevin Puts' To Touch the Sky. Kaileigh was recently featured in Potomac Theatre Project's presentation of A Small Handful by composer Gilda Lyons, directed by Jim Petosa. Kaileigh also has a background in singing jazz, pop, folk, and musical theatre.
Currently, Kaileigh is working on a new commission with composer Timothy Peterson on a setting of a short story written by her grandmother, Tamar. Kaileigh is based in New York City and is represented by Encompass Arts.