Lyric soprano Shelly Traverse made headlines for her “standout” performances as Hero in Seattle Opera’s world-premiere version of Berlioz’s Beatrice & Benedict, after stepping into the role at the last-minute. The Seattle Times noted Traverse as the “scene-stealer” of the performance “charm[ing] the audience with her voice and stage presence, both lovely and unaffected”.
In 2023 Ms. Traverse will make her Wagner debut singing Wellgunde in Das Rheingold with her home company Seattle Opera. In the previous season she sang Annina in La Traviata and covered Gianetta for the same company.
In 2022, Traverse sang the title role in Orfeo ed Euridice opposite counter tenor Keymon Murrah under the baton of Maestro Stephen Stubbs in Seattle Opera’s Tagney Jones Hall.
In the 19-20 Season, Ms. Traverse returned to Seattle Opera as Chan Parker in the West Coast premier of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, “singing with maximum power and great control, especially in the difficult upper register” (bachtrack.com) She also debuted with Eugene Opera in the Pulitzer Prize winning work The Little Match Girl Passion and returned to Vashon Opera to sing Annina in La Traviata. Ms. Traverse finished the season with an online recital as part of Seattle Opera’s Songs of Summer series. The recital received rave reviews describing her voice as “floating in the air impressionistically yet with convincing down to earth ardor.” (bachtrack.com)
In addition to Hero in Beatrice and Benedict the 18-19 season included successful runs as Lucia in The Rape of Lucretia and Valencienne in Lehar’s The Merry Widow for Tacoma Opera, as well as Pamina in Mozart’s The Magic Flute at Vashon Opera.
As part of Ms. Traverse’s deep and multi-faceted relationship with Seattle Opera, she has been seen as a frequent and important part of the company’s Community Engagement and Education initiatives. In 2022, she sang scenes from the World Premier Opera A Thousand Splendid Suns for the companies Open House previews.
In 2018, Ms. Traverse was selected to perform the leading role of Dora in the world-premiere of a shortened, family-friendly version of Lori Laitman’s The Three Feathers, which toured throughout Washington state. Prior to this, Ms. Traverse sang the title role in Janacek’s Katya Kabanova and Pamina in Mozart’s The Magic Flute in reduced, community-focused versions of Seattle Opera’s productions.
Equally at home on the opera stage as in other genres, Ms. Traverse is a seasoned veteran of both musical theater and operetta. In the Seattle area, Traverse has performed the roles of Johanna in Sweeney Todd with the Renton Civic Theatre and Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance with the Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society and Mrs. Nordstrom in A Little Night Music at Second Story Repertory Theatre.
As a founding member of the Living Music Ensemble, Ms. Traverse has shown her entrepreneurial strength as an organizer and consummate performer. Under these auspices, Ms. Traverse has performed in concerts throughout the Pacific Northwest and Texas singing works exclusively by living composers. In the summer of 2019 the Living Music Ensemble was featured on King FM’s Northwest Focus Live. Other concert highlights include the soprano soloist in a staged version of Handel’s Messiah with The Inverse Opera and as a soloist in Sun Valley Opera’s Rising Star Concert in 2016.
Ms. Traverse was a 2009 Studio Artist at Central City Opera. She holds a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and completed her master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music.