February 20, 2023
Theresa Brancaccio, mezzo-soprano, is a Senior Lecturer at Northwestern University where she has taught voice and vocal pedagogy since 1999. Her students perform throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia in venues including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera Chicago, Covent Garden, Santa Fe Opera, the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Daegu Opera House, Opera Theater St. Louis, Merola Opera Program, Sarasota Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Glyndebourne Festival, Dresden Opera, Teatro Real in Madrid, Opéra Comique, and more. Her students have been recipients of prestigious awards from the Richard Tucker Foundation, Marilyn Horne Foundation, Neue Stimmen International Competition, Palm Beach Opera, and George London Foundation, as well as finalists in the Regional and District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. At Northwestern, Ms. Brancaccio trained internationally acclaimed singers Amanda Majeski, soprano and Kangmin Justin Kim, counter-tenor.
Ms. Brancaccio's voice was praised by the Chicago Tribune as "cushiony and appealing from top to bottom." She has performed in concert, opera, and recital throughout the United States and was a soloist with Chicago's Grant Park Symphony for six consecutive seasons, performing works including Berlioz's Roméo et Juliette, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Choral Fantasy, Leonard Bernstein's Candide Suite, Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance, and a program of Rodgers and Hammerstein. She has performed in major works with the St. Louis Bach Society, Sacramento Bach Festival, Chicago Youth Symphony, Northwest Choral Society, Colorado Mahler Festival, Elgin Symphony, the New Oratorio Singers, Apollo Chorus, Evanston's Bach Week, and the North Shore Choral Society. Ms. Brancaccio was a soloist in Mendelssohn's Elijah under the direction of John Nelson for Soli Dei Gloria and sang the rarely performed Schumann Requiem and Bruckner Mass in F Minor for Chicago Master Singers.
In recital, Ms. Brancaccio has performed works including Schumann's Frauenliebe und-leben, Schoenberg's Brettl-lieder, Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, and songs by Joseph Thalken. She has sung live broadcasts for WFMT radio. Ms. Brancaccio sang the world premiere of Frank Ferko's Ulysses and the Siren at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall as well as the Midwest premiere of John Rutter's Feel the Spirit with the Northwest Choral Society. She has also performed as a featured vocal soloist with the ensemble Cathedral Brass.
On the opera stage, Ms. Brancaccio has appeared as Stephano in Romeo and Juliette, Siebel in Faust, Maddalena in Rigoletto, Fiona in Brigadoon, Hansel in Hansel and Gretel, Second Lady in The Magic Flute, Pitti-Sing in The Mikado, and both Carmen and Mercedes in Carmen with such ensembles as Central City Opera, Madison Opera, DuPage Opera Theater, Light Opera Works, Chamber Opera Chicago, and Chattanooga Opera.
Beginning her career as a soprano, Ms. Brancaccio interpreted many roles, including Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, Micaela in Carmen, Mimì in La bohème, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Adina in The Elixir of Love, the Widow in Argento's The Boor, and Yum-Yum in The Mikado. Her orchestral performances as a soprano included Strauss' Vier letzte Lieder; various cantatas and passions by Bach; and concert works of Beethoven, Brahms, and Mozart. Compact disc recordings include The Music of Max Janowski, Cathedral Brass Chicago, Symphony No. 8 by Gustav Mahler with the Chicago Youth Symphony, and Frank Ferko's Ulysses and the Siren.
In addition to teaching voice, Ms. Brancaccio teaches the graduate and undergraduate courses in Vocal Pedagogy, is faculty supervisor for the Undergraduate Honors Program and for the student organization, Bel Canto Ballet. She also oversees the Voice Lab, which features the software Voce Vista Pro.
Ms. Brancaccio is a strong advocate for vocal health as it provides the foundation for building excellent vocal technique. In 2017, she was awarded the Provost’s Digital Learning Fellowship to create the Singer Savvy Mobile App, which instructs users on how to test their vocal function and tracks all vocal activity, water intake, and more. The app creates a daily voice use budget and has information on vocal pacing, speaking well, and other voice-related topics. It can be downloaded for free at: www.singersavvyapp.com with a detailed tutorial on YouTube.
She is a recent recipient of a N.XT EdTech Funding Award to do research on vocal fatigue and quantifying vocal loads and is collaborating with Dr. John Rogers, renowned for his groundbreaking work in engineering and medical technologies. The team is developing the first wireless voice dosimeter and mobile app which measures vocal dose in singing and speaking as well voice quality and gives real-time feedback and recommendations to the user.
Ms. Brancaccio is co-author of the paper “Closed-loop network of skin-interfaced wireless devices for quantifying vocal fatigue and providing user feedback,” published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2023. She has had articles published on her "Vocal Points Tracker" by Inter Nos, newsletter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and Voice Prints, Journal of the New York Teachers' Association. She has written on voice care for the College Music Society To You and Your Students’ Good Health: Q & A Column 2023, and her voice tracking system is highlighted in the book, “The Evolving Singing Voice: Changes Across the Lifespan,” by Karen Brunssen.
Ms. Brancaccio was a presenter at the 2020 NATS Virtual Conference (The Singer Savvy App: Vanquishing Vocal Fatigue) as well as the 2018 NATS National Conference in Las Vegas, 2017 Central Region NATS Conference in DeKalb, IL, and the 2019 TeachX Conference at Northwestern University. She has conducted master classes and workshops for organizations including Chicago Master Singers, Chicago NATS, the Apollo Chorus, Northwest Choral Society and Midwest Young Artists.
A teacher for the Lyric Opera Chicago Chorus Voice Lesson Program, Ms. Brancaccio has also judged competitions for the Luminarts Foundation, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the Bel Canto Foundation of Rhode Island, the Kleinman Foundation and the American Opera Society, among others. She has served as Vice President of the Chicago Singing Teachers Guild and Director of Workshops for Chicago NATS as well as the NATS National Mentoring Initiative Committee. Ms. Brancaccio was honored to be chosen as a Master Teacher for the 2021 NATS Intern Program and to be given the first William Vessels Master Teacher Award.
Ms. Brancaccio is a core team member of the Music for Child Wellness Initiative, (formerly Trauma, Music and the Breath) which was awarded funding by the Buffett Foundation for Global Affairs. The project’s mission is to find effective ways to use music, singing and breathing techniques to improve the health and well-being of elementary school-aged children throughout the world.
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