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Greek-American mezzo-soprano, Layna Chianakas, has been hailed as "the type of singer that makes one remember why to go to the opera." Her versatility as a singing-actor has aided her in the portrayal of many leading opera roles including Carmen in Carmen, Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Angelina in La Cenerentola, Sesto in Giulio Cesare, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, The Woman in Poulenc's La Voix Humaine, and the title role in La Perichole. She has performed with such opera companies as Cleveland Opera, Nashville Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Sarasota Opera, Virginia Opera, Dayton Opera, Festival Opera, Nevada Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, Madison Opera, Sacramento Opera, Intermountain Opera, Opera San José and Richard Wagner Bayreuth Festival.  She performed a concert-version Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana with Chorus Pro Music in Boston, in which the Boston Globe praised her as "an audience favorite, singing with a strong, cutting voice and breathing real pathos into the character of the betrayed peasant girl."  Most recently, she performed Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with Dayton Opera and Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana with Opera Santa Barbara.

Ms. Chianakas has extensive experience and much success in the recital forum.  She spent three years touring with The Songs of Franz Schubert Concert Series performing over 100 recitals, accompanied by world-renowned coach and accompanist John Wustman.  She was named Artistic Ambassador of the United States, performing recitals for some of the foremost diplomats of our country and giving master classes in Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala, British Guyana and Jamaica.  She has performed on the mid-day public radio broadcast of the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series, in Chicago, IL, the Krannert Center Sunday Salon Series in Champaign, IL, and a number of recital series throughout Germany.  Ms. Chianakas gave her New York Recital Debut at Christ and St. Stephen's Church and has performed an all-Schubert program as part of the San Francisco Performances Concert Series.  She recently appeared in a solo recital with the Old First Concerts Series in San Francisco, sang a recital and gave a master class at Simpson College in Iowa in September 2007, and performed a recital on the Los Gatos Community Concert Series in January 2008.  Most recently, she sang a recital and gave a master class at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, CA, and also gave a joint recital with her colleague, Joseph Frank, at San José State University.

As a soloist, she has sung with numerous symphonies and choral societies.  The Los Angeles Times wrote of her "Beautiful tone and control as she graced the stage in a flowing candy-apple-red dress" after hearing her performance of Maurice Ravel's Shéhérazade with the New West Symphony.  Other orchestral appearances include performances with Chorus pro Musica in Boston, MA, the Chorus of Westerly in Rhode Island, Oakland-East Bay Symphony, Peoria Symphony, San José Symphony, Santa Cruz Symphony, San Jose Chamber Orchestra, Fresno Philharmonic, Sinfonia da Camera, the Masterworks Chorale, the Choral Society of the Hamptons, New West Symphony, Vallejo Symphony, Diablo Symphony, Lake Tahoe Music Festival Orchestra, and Augustana Orchestra. Ms. Chianakas sang the world premiere of Saints written for her by Craig Bohmler, with the San José Chamber Orchestra, and also sang the world premiere of Winter Requiem with San Francisco's Schola Cantorum, in which the mezzo-soprano solos were written for her by Alva Henderson.  Most recently, she performed an encore of Saints with the San José Chamber Orchestra, along with the premiere of Sinners, with baritone, Robert Orth and Saints with the Master Sinfonia Chamber Orchestra.  In February, she performed with the Charlottesville Symphony, and in April, she sang the premiere of Artifacts, written for her by Craig Bohmler, with Duo West in Phoenix, AZ.  Future engagements include the West Coast Premiere of Henry Mollicone's Misa de los Inmigrantes with the San José Symphonic Choir, Jake Heggie's The Deepest Desire with the Oakland East Bay Symphony, Kurt Weill's The Seven Deadly Sins with CA State East Bay's School of Music and Dance, and the a new work written for her by composer Michael Touchi in honor of San José Chamber Orchestra's 20th Anniversary Season.

After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Music degree from the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Ms. Chianakas moved to Kassel, Germany, where she taught voice and beginning piano with the Musikschule-Ehlen for four years.  While in Germany, she attended the Mozarteum Salzburg and studied Lieder with some of the foremost coaches in the world.  It is there, she acquired her fluency in German.  She returned to the United States and received a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Illinois.  Ms. Chianakas is currently Assistant Professor of Voice at the San José State University School of Music and Dance.




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