Lea Woods Almanza
Opera singer Lea Woods Almanza is crossing boundaries with music, relating to audiences around the world and connecting through song. As part of Singers Beyond Borders, a remarkable group of opera singers who have performed internationally since 2005, Almanza is looking to raise awareness and support for charitable causes.
On March 11 at 7:30 p.m., Hawaii Theatre Center will welcome Singers Beyond Borders back to the stage with Opera Rocks!, the group’s first stop en route to a four-city tour of China and Singapore.
“We are classically trained musicians with six unique viewpoints and appreciation for music in all styles. We will perform not only opera and operetta, but jazz and Broadway standards combined with a blend of popular tunes heard around the world,” says Almanza, a Hawaii-born soprano and one of the group’s founding artists, along with baritone Ryan Taylor.
They are joined in this year’s performance tour by mezzo-soprano Fenlon Lamb, tenor Chad Johnson, pianist Joseph Li and guitarist Wes Yoakam.
A graduate of Punahou School and Cornell University, Almanza lived in Italy for three years studying under the direction of Maestri Franco Corelli, Maurizio Arena, Claudia Pinza and Maria Chiara. She also participated in the International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv, Montreal and Puerto Rico, where she worked with Sherill Milnes and other renowned opera greats. Traveling across the globe, Almanza called New York home for seven years. It was there that she gathered together a group of talented colleagues to found her organization.
“We performed as an ensemble in 2005 in Shanghai and Singapore, and soon after settled on the name Singers Beyond Borders, which we felt accurately described our global approach to music-making in service of charitable causes. Care for Children, Gift of Life International and The Virlanie Foundation were our first charities,” she explains, saying that this year SBB will raise funds for Fudan University Children’s Hospital Blood and Cancer Center, 5 Colours Foundation, MINDS and, once again, Care for Children.
Almanza appeared on MidWeek‘s cover in January 2004 and since then has landed the roles of Liu in Hawaii Opera Theatre’s Turandot, Musetta in La Boheme in Augusta, Ga., and Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro with Opera Hong Kong, among many others.
Returning home in 2007 to regenerate her passion for music, Almanza met husband Joshua, and is now the mother of their 10-month-old son Jacob William.
Last year, she released a children’s sing-along album with Grammy award-winning slack key guitarist Jeff Peterson titled Sing-A-Long with Lea and Jeff. She currently hopes to start focusing on Hawaiian music for her next project.
“Though perhaps I’ve not yet reached the ‘pinnacle’ of theaters by opera world standards, I have enjoyed each stage I’ve been blessed to sing on, and am grateful for each experience,” Almanza says.
Tickets for Opera Rocks! cost $45 and $75; student tickets are available for $15 with a valid ID. To purchase tickets and for more information, call the Hawaii Theatre Center box office at 528-0506 or visit www.hawaiitheatre.com and http://leawoodsalmanza.com.
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