Sun-Ly Pierce


Chinese-American mezzo-soprano Sun-Ly Pierce is quickly distinguishing herself as an exciting communicator and artist in the opera world. The 2023-24 calendar is filled with role debuts, including Suzy in La Rondine at the Metropolitan Opera with conductor Speranza Scappucci and director Nicolas Jo√ęl; Siegrune in Die Walk√ľre with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra led by Fabio Luisi; Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia conducted by Gary Wedow as she returns to the Des Moines Metro Opera; Suzuki in Madama Butterfly with the Houston Grand Opera where she also sings Snake/Sheep in the world premiere of The Big Swim by composer Meilina Tsui and librettist Melisa Tien; Bertarido in Handel‚Äôs Rodelinda at Hudson Opera House with director R.B. Schlather; and Si√©bel in Faust with Berkshire Opera Festival with artistic director Brian Garman on the podium. Ms. Pierce will debut with the Virginia Symphony performing in Handel‚Äôs Messiah and returns to the role of Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro marking her debut with New Orleans Opera.

The previous season, Ms. Pierce returned to Houston Grand Opera to sing the role of Jack and cover Thirza in Dame Ethel Smyth’s epic 1906 opera The Wreckers. She also made role and house debuts with Calgary Opera as Laurene Powell in The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs led by Michael Christie; Opera Philadelphia as Emilia in Rossini‚Äôs 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 performed Mozart‚Äôs Requiem with the Houston Symphony conducted by Itzhak Perlman; Szymanowski‚Äôs Songs of the Infatuated Muezzin with The Orchestra Now at the Fisher Center and Carnegie Hall with Leon Botstein on the podium; and a pair of recitals for Lyric Fest in Philadelphia.

In the 2021-22 season, Ms. Pierce debuted four new roles on stage at Houston Grand Opera: St√©phano (Rom√©o et Juliette) directed by Tomer Zvulun; sing Sister Mathilde and cover Blanche de la Force (Dialogues des Carm√©lites) directed by Francesca Zambello and conducted by music director Patrick Summers; Second Lady (Die Zauberfl√∂te) in the Barrie Kosky and Suzanne Andrade production under the baton of Jane Glover; and Merc√©d√®s (Carmen) led by Lidiya Yankovskaya. Additional appearances included reviving her portrayal of Mozart‚Äôs 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‚Äôs A Midsummer Night‚Äôs 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‚Äôs Dream of the Red Chamber with the San Francisco Opera with conductor Darrell Ang.

With Houston Grand Opera in the 2020-21 season, 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 √§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‚Äôs L‚Äôheure espagnole, Monteverdi‚Äôs L‚Äôincoronazione di Poppea, and Bizet‚Äôs Carmen.

Previous performance highlights include a debut at National Sawdust in two New York premieres of works by composers Annika Socolofsky and Emily Cooley; performing in Stravinsky‚Äôs Pulcinella conducted by Thomas Ad√®s; taking on the role of Olivia in the west coast premiere of Jennifer Higdon‚Äôs Cold Mountain directed by James Darrah; singing Berlioz‚Äôs Les nuits d‚Äô√©t√© with the Broad Street Orchestra; debuting as Soprano II in Bach‚Äôs 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!”; and giving a recital in Santa Barbara, California, with pianist Chien-Lin Lu on which they premiered a new song cycle, Wise Moon, written by three-time Grammy Award-winning composer Jennifer Higdon in the spring of 2022. Ms. Pierce has sung opera roles of Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro), Dorinda (Acis and Galatea), Nada (Sokolovińá‚Äôs Svadba), Suor Pazienza (Giordano’s Mese Mariano), and La Suor Infermiera (Suor Angelica).

Ms. Pierce has won top prizes in the Marilyn Horne Song Competition, Dallas Opera National Vocal Competition, Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers, and Butler Opera International Voice Competition. 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. Ms. Pierce 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.

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 is an alumna of the Houston Grand Opera Studio.