Sun-Ly Pierce


Chinese-American mezzo-soprano Sun-Ly Pierce is quickly distinguishing herself as an exciting communicator and artist in the opera world. During the 2022-23 season, she will return to Houston Grand Opera to sing the role of Jack and cover Thirza in Dame Ethel Smyth’s epic 1906 opera The Wreckers. Ms. Pierce will also make role and house debuts with Calgary Opera as Laurene Powell in (R)evolution of Steve Jobs led by Michael Christie; Opera Philadelphia as Emilia in Rossini’s Otello alongside tenor Lawrence Brownlee with conductor Corrado Rovaris; and Detroit Opera as Arsamene in Xerxes under the baton of Dame Jane Glover. In concert, she will perform Mozart’s Requiem with the Houston Symphony conducted by Itzhak Perlman; Szymanowski’s Songs of the Infatuated Muezzin with The Orchestra Now at the Fisher Center and Carnegie Hall with Leon Botstein on the podium; as well as a pair of recitals for Lyric Fest in Philadelphia.

Last season, Ms. Pierce debuted four new roles on stage at Houston Grand Opera: StĂ©phano (RomĂ©o et Juliette) directed by Tomer Zvulun; sing Sister Mathilde and cover Blanche de la Force (Dialogues des CarmĂ©lites) directed by Francesca Zambello and conducted by music director Patrick Summers; Second Lady (Die Zauberflöte) in the Barrie Kosky and Suzanne Andrade production under the baton of Jane Glover; and MercĂ©dĂšs (Carmen) led by Lidiya Yankovskaya. Additional appearances included reviving her portrayal of Mozart’s Second Lady for Des Moines Metro Opera; joining the Aspen Music Festival in a role debut as Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni reuniting with Dame Jane Glover as conductor and mezzo-soprano soloist in a concerts of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream led by Nicholas McGegan and Druckman’s Dark Upon the Harp; and made her San Francisco Opera debut as Bao Chai in Bright Sheng’s Dream of the Red Chamber with the San Francisco Opera with conductor Darrell Ang.

In the 2020-21 season at Houston Grand Opera, Ms. Pierce sang the title role in a digital presentation of Hansel and Gretel by director Lileana Blain-Cruz with original animated settings by award-winning visual artist Hannah Wasileski. She also appeared as Liesl in the company’s live sing-a-long event, My Favorite Things: Songs from The Sound of Music, which took place at the TDECU Stadium at the University of Houston. Scheduled appearances included K Ă€tchen (Werther) as well as covering Angelina and singing Tisbe (La Cenerentola) before being canceled due to the pandemic. Recent scene productions with the Houston Grand Opera Studio include excerpts of Ravel’s L’heure espagnole, Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Bizet’s Carmen.

Previous season highlights include a debut at National Sawdust in two New York premieres of works by composers Annika Socolofsky and Emily Cooley; performing in Stravinsky’s Pulcinella conducted by Thomas AdĂšs; taking on the role of Olivia in the west coast premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain directed by James Darrah; singing Berlioz’s Les nuits d’étĂ© with the Broad Street Orchestra; debuting as Soprano II in Bach’s Magnificat as a part of Counterpoint Concerts in Tennessee; performing as mezzo-soprano soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Mohawk Valley Choral Society and Orchestra and Bach’s Cantata BWV 70 “Wachet! betet! betet! wachet!”; singing the opera roles of Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro), Dorinda (Acis and Galatea), Nada (Sokolović’s Svadba), Suor Pazienza (Giordano’s Mese Mariano), and La Suor Infermiera (Suor Angelica).

As winners of the 2019 Marilyn Horne Song Competition, Ms. Pierce and pianist Chien-Lin Lu will give an international recital tour including stops in London, New York, Chicago, and Santa Barbara, on which they will premiere a new song cycle, Wise Moon, written by three-time Grammy Award-winning composer Jennifer Higdon in the spring of 2022. Competing in the 2021 Dallas Opera National Vocal Competition, she tied for third place. In 2020, Ms. Pierce was first place winner of the Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers and was selected as a Keston MAX Fellows which were to perform with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle before the pandemic forced its cancellation. The previous year she was a semi-finalist in the Kurt Weill Foundation’s Lotte Lenya Competition and a Vocal Fellow at Academy of the West. Ms. Pierce was selected as an Encouragement Winner of the New England Region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2021.

A native of Clinton, New York, she holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance degree from the Eastman School of Music and is an alumni of the Graduate Vocal Arts Program at Bard College Conservatory of Music where she studied under the tutelage of Dawn Upshaw, Kayo Iwama, and Erika Switzer. Ms. Pierce will complete her training as a member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio in May 2022.