Dramatic-coloratura soprano Riley Cardona was raised in a small farming community on the mid-western plains of South Dakota. From humble roots, she began the journey to professional classical singer with passionate determination and a prodigious vocal talent. During her brief career Opera News has already described her voice as “most promising” and critics have praised her "florid high soprano, with flirtatious charm, and tension-free lyricism.”
She began her early vocal studies as an opulent lyric soprano, but recently Cardona has developed her luminous instrument into a powerful, dramatic-coloratura soprano; specializing in roles like Queen of the Night, Constanza, Thais, Lakmé, Violetta and Lucia di Lammermoor. At the same time Ms. Cardona uniquely possesses the vocal color and power to sing the major lyric roles of the operatic repertoire, such as Micaela, Mimi, Donna Anna, Manon Lescaut, Fiordiligi, Pamina, Countess and, as she matures, many great Verdi heroines.
In the fall of 2013, she made her professional main stage debut with the Florida Grand Opera in the role of Helen Niles in Marvin David Levy’s Mourning Becomes Electra. And as a young artist apprentice there, she also sang Estelle in a special production of Andy Vores’ No Exit to critical acclaim. In 2015, she was invited to participate in the young artist program at Sarasota Opera in Florida, where she performed the title role in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel and Thibault in Verdi’s Don Carlos.
Since moving to Minneapolis in 2015, she has been a frequently heard soloist with many musical organizations, including The Schubert Club, MacPhail’s Sonomento, the Kenwood Symphony, Source Song Festival, St. John’s Lutheran Church, the South Metro Chorale, Bethel University and Garden of Song Opera; performing in Handel’s Messiah and Chandos Anthem No. 4 & 6, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Mozart’s Grand Mass in C minor, Vaughan-Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (title role), Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, Bernstein’s Candide (Cunegonde, excerpts) and Mendelssohn’s Psalm 47.
Ms. Cardona’s singing awards include the Grand Prize in the Franco-American Vocal Academy Grand Concours de Chant, the Winston Scholarship from the National Society of Arts and Letters, the Encouragement Award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Regional Auditions and second prize in the Minneapolis Song Slam Festival. She was also a finalist in the 2015 Houston Grand Opera Studio auditions.