Biography

Celebrated by Opera News for her “perfect yearningly optimistic coloring—golden and radiant," and by Classics Today for her “impressive instrument,” soprano Susan Hellman Spatafora has performed with Palm Beach Opera, Opera Tampa, Sarasota Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, Central City Opera, South Florida Lyric Opera and Green Mountain Opera. In December 2020, Spatafora “sparkled” as she “let (Rosalinde’s) intelligence shine through” (Orlando Sentinel) in Opera Orlando’s Die Fledermaus, the country’s first staged opera production since the pandemic. During the 2019-20 season Spatafora “turned in a blazing performance” (Talkin’ Broadway) in the title role of Suor Angelica with the St. Petersburg Opera Company and performed the roles of Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen with Opera Tampa and Mimì in Puccini’s La Bohème with Lakeland Opera. Other recent roles have included in Leïla in Les pêcheurs de perles, Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly, Giulietta in Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Clotilde in Norma, and Anna in Puccini’s Le Villi. Spatafora can also be seen in the title role in the world premiere video recording of Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, released on Naxos in 2017.

 

Spatafora’s canceled engagements due to COVID-19 include Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus with Gulfshore Opera; Antonia/Giulietta in Les Contes d’Hoffmann and Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly with Opera Tampa; and a collaborative concert with dancer Charlotte Johnson at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg. In lieu of full performances at Opera Tampa, Spatafora will perform the role of Leonora in the company’s 90 minute, socially distanced Il Trovatore in March 2021 and Cio-Cio-San in “Butterfly’s Flight” in April. Other upcoming engagements include a concert with Opera Orlando in May and the role of the Governess in Britten’s Turn of the Screw with IlluminArts in October 2021.

In November 2020, Spatafora sang Marcos Balter’s Ear, Skin, and Bone Riddles in the New World Symphony’s virtual program, Adams X Adams, which she “delivered with a rich timbre, bell-like high notes and great clarity” (South Florida Classical Review). A frequent guest artist with the Tampa Oratorio Singers, Spatafora was recently seen as soprano soloist in Verdi's Requiem, Mozart's Mass in C minor, Bach's Magnificat, Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Handel’s Messiah. Other appearances as guest soloist have included a quartet version of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (Liszt) and Brahms’ Liebeslieder-Walzer with the Dranoff International 2 Piano Foundation; Andrea Clearfield’s The Long Bright with the North Carolina Women’s Voices Chorus; the world premiere of Allan Friedman’s With Perfect Faith with the Duke Vespers Ensemble; “Solveig’s Song” from Peer Gynt with the Tampa Bay Symphony; and Whispering Pines 10, an installment of artist Shana Moulton’s internet soap opera with music by Nick Hallett. An avid art song recitalist, Spatafora has performed concerts with IlluminArts at the Bass Museum, Miami Center for Architecture & Design, and in the virtual concert “Unmasked” in collaboration with ICA Miami and Girl Power in December 2020.

 

Spatafora has won prizes in competitions including the Florida Grand Opera Young Patronesses of the Opera competition, the Palm Beach Opera International Vocal Competition, and the National Society of Arts and Letters Voice Competition.  A graduate of the master’s program in voice at the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati and bachelor’s program in voice from Indiana University, Ms. Spatafora has been a participant in the EPCASO and Opera Lucca programs in Italy, as well as young artist programs at Central City Opera, Sarasota Opera and the Glimmerglass Festival. Spatafora now makes her home in St. Petersburg, FL.