Mezzo-soprano Diane Kesling’s career has included distinguished engagements with a number of the world’s leading opera houses: Metropolitan Opera, Houston Opera, La Scala, Seattle Opera, l’Opera de Nice, and the Opera Company of Philadelphia, as well as solo engagements with the Boston Symphony and the Pittsburgh Symphony.
Ms. Kesling has performed in the Metropolitan Opera productions of Cosi fan Tutte, Ariadne auf Naxos, La Forza del Destino, Die Meistersinger, Carmen, Madama Butterfly, Hansel and Gretel, Don Carlo, L’Enfant et les Sortileges, Manon Lescaut, Lulu, Otello, Andrea Chénier, Salome, Faust, Le Nozze di Figaro, Romeo and Juliet, and Katya Kabanova, as well as in the productions of Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, and Götterdämmerung, conducted by James Levine, and subsequently issued on CD and video by Deutsche Grammophon.
Other engagements include Nicklausse and the Muse in The Tales of Hoffman for Opera Columbus, Boston and Tanglewood performances of Götterdämmerung with the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Pittsburgh Symphony, under the direction of Lorin Mazel, Vaughn-Williams Serenade to Music and Schubert”s Mass in e-flat, both with the Boston Symphony, conducted by Charles Dutoit, Mrs. Peecham in the THREE PENNY OPERA with Philadelphia Opera Theater, Katasha in the Mikado with the Hot Springs Music Festival, and the Witch in Hansel and Gretel for Opera Theater of Rochester, New York world premiere performances of Carson Kieveman’s California Mystery Park, and Susan Botti’s Wonderglass.
She has performed Freia in Das Rheingold, Ortlinda in Die Walküre, and Gutrune in Götterdämmerung in Seattle Opera’s RING, also appearing in their production of Le Nozze di Figaro as Cherubino. Ms. Kesling also was heard in Salome and Elektra with the Boston Symphony under the direction of Seiji Ozawa, the latter released on CD by Philips Records.
Notable highlights of her career include the role of Dinah in Houston Grand Opera’s production of Trouble in Tahiti, her La Scala debut as Dinah in Leonard Bernstein’s A Quiet Place, a role which Ms. Kesling later repeated at the Kennedy Center. Appearances on PBS’ “Live from the Met” telecasts include: Das Rheingold, Die Wälküre, Götterdämmerung, Mercedes in Carmen, the Sandman in Hansel and Gretel, Zulma in L’Italiana in Algeri, Cura in La Forza del Destino, and the Met Centennial .
Ms. Kesling maintains an active recital repertoire and has presented programs throughout the country including: UNC-Wilmington, the Ohio State University, Western Michigan University, University of Cleveland, University of Houston, Converse College (S.C.), Charlotte, N.C., Shreveport (La) Music Festival, John Brown University, Kokomo, Indiana as a part of the Affiliate Artist Program, the Hot Springs Music Festival, and a recital for patrons of the Metropolitan Opera, on the stage of the Met, accompanied by James Levine.
An ardent supporter of contemporary composers, Diane Kesling has performed in the premieres and workshops of a number of important American composers. These include: Leonard Bernstein’s A Quiet Place, Philip Glass’ The Panther, Carlisle Floyd’s Willie Stark, Tim Lloyd’s Dark of the Moon, Carson Kieveman’s California Mystery Park, Susan Botti’s Wonderglass, and David Ashley White’s Homages, which was dedicated to the mezzo-soprano.
Notable stage director’s with whom she has worked include Otto Schenk, Jean-Pierre Ponnell, Jonathan Miller, Francesca Zambello, David Pountney, Hal Prince, Frank Corsaro, Jack O’Brien, Francois Rochaix, Renata Scotto, Michael Kahn, and Stephen Wadsworth. Other notable conductors include John DeMain, John Pritchard, Raymond Leppard, John Mauceri, Manuel Rosenthal, Armin Jordan, John Mauceri, Gerard Schwartz, Robert Shaw, Herman Michael, and Placido Domingo.
Upon graduating from The Ohio State University, Ms. Kesling joined the Houston Opera Studio, where she studied voice with Elena Nikolaidi. After winning the Metropolitan Opera National Audition in 1981, she was invited to become a member of the Met’s Young Artist Development Program, and later a member of the company.
Ms. Kesling has added the new element of stage direction to her accomplishments. She directed and produced Amahl and the Night Visitors in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Subsequently, she was asked to direct the same opera for Opera Memphis. The following season, Diane returned to direct Don Giovanni at the Orpheum Theater in Memphis, for Opera Memphis. During the 2008 fall season Diane directed the world premiere of THE SCARLET LETTER by Lori Laitman at the University of Central Arkansas. Ms. Kesling is currently on the voice faculty of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where she teaches private voice.