Cecelia Stearman, a native of Mississippi, has performed opera, oratorio and Lieder in theaters and concert stages throughout the world. Her international career has taken her to four continents and numerous countries in venues such as the Uspinov Palace of St. Petersburg, Alte Oper in Frankfurt, and the Odeon Herod Atticus of Athens. Her credits include St. Matthew’s Passion and St. John’s Passion and the Weihnachtsoratorium; Handel’s Messiah and Judas Maccabaeus, Mozart’s Requiem and Mass in C minor, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Rossini’s Messe Solennelle and Bernstein’s Mass which was performed at the Hessischerundfunk. In addition to her vast oratorio repertoire, Ms. Stearman has sung Bach and Mozart solo cantatas; “American Music” from musicals to Ned Rorem, and African-American Spirituals, 22 of which she recorded for German Public Radio, in 1999. She has worked under the batons of Heidelberg Opera’s Linda Horowitz, Ebehard Friedrich of the Bayreuth Festivals and David Stern.
Music critics have praised Ms. Stearman as “commanding both vocally and physically,” KDHX Theater Review and as possessing “a pure alto sound… rarely heard… Her voice was rich, dark and liquid.” The Clarion Ledger.
Some of her earlier opera experiences included roles in Dido and Aeneas, Acis and Galatea, Hercules, Cosi fan tutte, Carlyle Floyd’s Susannah, and Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel. After 14 years in Europe, Germany and France, respectively, Ms. Stearman returned to the USA (St. Louis) in 2003. Since then, her performances have included Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, The Sheldon, the Sorceress in Union Avenue Opera’s Dido and Aeneas, Dryade in Ariadne auf Naxos, The Duchess of Plaza Toro in The Gondoliers, Suor Infermeria in Suor Angelica, The Countess in Pikovaya Dama and, Jade Boucher in Dead Man Walking, the Third Lady in The Magic Flute, with the St. Louis Symphony, and Erda in Das Rheingold with Union Avenue Opera. The following year, she sang the role of Waltraute in Die Walküre. The year of 2014 began with the role of the mother in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors in January, was followed by Marcelina, in Le Nozze di Figaro, in February, and in August, she finished out the role of Erda in Siegfried.
Ms. Stearman lived in New York City from May 2015 to May 2020. While in New York, she sang the mezzo solos for the Palmeri Mass, a recital of Mark Hayes’ music with the arranger/composer himself at the piano and performed the Mozart and Durufle Requiems, in February of 2018, with DCINY, at Carnegie Hall and repeated the Mozart Requiem at Riverside Church in May of 2019.
In addition to her international singing career, Ms. Stearman has extensive choral directing experience. While living in Germany, she conducted church choirs as well as played the piano for and directed the orchestra pit for the Dornbusch Theater. In 2000, she co-founded and was Artistic Director/Conductor for the Emmanuel Gospel Choir of Paris. Then, after relocating to St. Louis, MO, she founded the Community Gospel Choir in 2007, which was an important vehicle for racial integration in the St. Louis area. Both of these choirs are still active today. In 2020, she was the Guest Conductor of the German/American Community Choir in Frankfurt, Germany.
Ms. Stearman holds a Master’s in Vocal Performance from Mississippi College, where she has also served on faculty.