18 to Watch: Rachel Willis-Sørensen
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18 to Watch: Rachel Willis-Sørensen


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© Simon Pauly

RACHEL WILLIS-SØRENSEN gives the lie to the operatic platitude that they don’t make ‘em like that anymore. One need only watch video of her rendition of “Dich, teure Halle”—the aria with which she won first prize as well as the Birgit Nilsson Prize in the 2014 Operalia Competition—to recognize that Willis-Sørensen’s is a genuine jugendlich dramatische soprano of uncommon beauty. Her refrain of “Sei mir gegrüsst!” charms the ear like a Porsche idling its engine on the shoulder of an empty highway, just waiting for the right moment to hit the gas. 

Some big voices struggle to find their rep, but Willis-Sørensen’s ascent has been rapid and without misstep. After graduating from Brigham Young University, the soprano joined the Houston Grand Opera Studio and worked with Dolora Zajick at the mezzo’s Institute for Young Dramatic Voices. In 2010, shortly before making her mainstage debut as Masha in HGO’s Queen of Spades, Willis-Sørensen won the Met National Council Auditions. She spent three years as a member of Dresden Semperoper’s ensemble and wowed audiences as Hanna Glawari, Fiordiligi and Idomeneo’s Elettra. In January, Met audiences will get to hear her acclaimed Donna Anna. 

This month, the soprano is scheduled for another star turn, as Hélène in Les Vêpres Siciliennes in Munich; later this season she’ll make her role debut as Rusalka at San Francisco Opera. Catch her pitch-perfect rendition of the song to the moon on YouTube—it’s out of this world. —A.W. 

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