“……a real alto possessed of a lovely low range….”
-San Francisco Classical Voice Magazine
Praised for her “plush” voice by the Baltimore Sun and voice of “sweet clarity” by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, mezzo-soprano Kristen Dubenion-Smith enjoys an active performing career in oratorio, opera and sacred vocal chamber music, particularly specializing in music of the medieval, renaissance and baroque eras.
Recent notable engagements include performances with The Folger Consort, Apollo’s Fire, The Mark Morris Dance Group, the Washington Bach Consort, Cathedra and The Bach in Baltimore Concert Series. Ms. Dubenion-Smith has also performed concerts with various ensembles at the Boston Early Music Festival, the Berkeley Early Music Exhibition, the Indianapolis Early Music Festival and the Washington Early Music Festival.
Ms. Dubenion-Smith’s operatic career spans more than a dozen opera roles performed throughout the United States. Some of her more notable roles have included Endimione in La Calisto, Hecuba in La Didone and Cupid in Venus and Adonis with American Opera Theater, Humility in Ordo Virtutum with the Peabody Early Music Department, Hansel in Hansel and Gretel with Peabody Opera Outreach and La Baronne in Chérubin with New Jersey Opera Theater.
Ms. Dubenion-Smith also has a keen interest in contemporary music. She has had the privilege of working with The Evolution Contemporary Music Series the past four seasons where she has performed works such as David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize winning piece The Little Match Girl Passion as well as Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs and works by Arvo Pärt. Most recently, Ms. Dubenion-Smith performed, for the composers, selections from the chamber opera Song from the Uproar, song cycle Taking Turns in my Skin, selections from Penelope and premiered Book of the Lake by NYC based composers, Missy Mazzoli, Sarah Kirkland Snider and Daniel Davis.
Originally from Michigan, Ms. Dubenion-Smith graduated from Alma College before moving to Baltimore to complete her studies in voice at the Peabody Institute. Now residing in Washington D.C., Kristen co-founded the award winning medieval ensemble, Eya, in 2010. Eya is a unique ensemble seeking to refresh and invigorate the interpretation and performance of medieval music for women. You can learn more about Eya at www.eyaensemble.com
Ms. Dubenion-Smith also serves as cantor at the Washington National Cathedral and has recordings on Bard and Gothic labels.
Notable solo engagements of 2014-2015 include concerts with: Eya Medieval Ensemble, The Washington Bach Consort, The Evolution Contemporary Music Series, the Bach in Baltimore Concert Series and a national tour with Apollo’s Fire performing the Monteverdi Vespers. Kristen will also be performing Dowland’s A Pilgirm’s Solace with lutenist Richard Stone in the spring of 2015.
Ms. Dubenion-Smith sang with a remarkably smooth register, especially in the aria “Wie furchstam wankten meine Schritte” of Bach’s Cantata 33 — an aria loaded with octave skips. Conceived more instrumentally than vocally, Bach’s arias can be difficult for mezzos because of range and register, but not for this mezzo. Ms. Dubenion-Smith handled the tough intervals and figures with a voice as smooth as silk and her Cantata 33 aria was particularly gracefully accompanied by violinist Vita Wallace and Daniel Swenberg playing theorbo.
-Nancy Plum, Town Topics, February 2014
Kristen Dubenion-Smith, mezzo-soprano, brought a deep sense of isolation to the re-imagined texts from Eberhardt’s journals with her clear tone and dark color.
-Megan Ihnen, The Glass, March 2013
In the solo aria “Meine Seele” sung by mezzo Kristen Dubenion-Smith, the listener basked in the luxuriant richness of her lower register, while marveling at the facility of her upper tessitura. Her ornaments were well placed throughout and never detracted from the essence of the solo line. As she declared “Meine Seele” or “my soul,” the depth of her conviction and connection to the music came through.
-Patrick D. McCoy, Washington Life Magazine, October 2012
Rottsolk and plush-voiced mezzo Kristen Dubenion-Smith, as Ino, blended gorgeously in “Prepare then, ye immortal choir.”
-Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, April 2012
Kristen Dubenion-Smith sang a moving “He was Despised” that so effectively transported the listener to the foot of the cross. Her compelling rendering was a reminder for many that He was born to die.
-Patrick McCoy, D.C. Performing Arts Examiner, Dec 2011
A highlight of the concert included Elizabeth Merrill, soprano and Kristen Dubenion-Smith, alto who blended splendidly as two plucked stringed instruments called theorboes provided accomaniment in Chiara Cozzolani’s “O Dulcis Jesu.”
-Mark Beachy, MD Theater Guide, Jan 2011
Dubenion-Smith sang with an attractive mezzo-soprano in her one aria, In deine Hände (In your hands), and her expressive scalewise passages were right on-pitch.
-David Abrams, BLOG.CNYCAFEMOMUS.COM, Sep 2010
Dubenion-Smith, a real alto possessed of a lovely low range, sang bass, sometimes transposed and sometimes at pitch.
-Anna Carol Dudley, San Francisco Classical Voice Magazine, Dec 2009
“Sleep, my most beloved,” sung with sweet clarity by alto Kristen Dubenion-Smith and enhanced by oboe’s d’amore and oboes da caccia, was particularly lovely.
-Jane Vranish, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dec 2007
Dubenion-Smith was yet another strong soloist, with a warm alto sound and sure feeling for line and the way it illuminates words.
-Mark Kanny, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Dec 2007
The orchestra was drawn from leading period-instrument performers from around the United States, including concertmaster Julie Andrijeski. Her solo with the admirable alto Kristen Dubenion-Smith in an aria in the third cantata was richly soulful and technically admirable.
“….A mezzo-soprano with a lilting voice…”
-Rebecca Corbett, New York Times, August, 2007
If we throw in mezzo-soprano Kristen Dubenion-Smith (Hecuba in La Didone) as the dancing bear, we get the full five-part chorus that Handel used. The bear was funny in her rotund costume, whiskers and glasses.
-Charles T. Downey, Ionarts, Jan 2007
Kristen Dubenion-Smith had fine moments – as Hecuba, Queen of Troy.
-Charles T. Downey, Ionarts, June 2006
Dubenion-Smith has a fluid but precise grasp of Latin diction and a keen sense of dynamic shading, and her performance had a power and authority that – paradoxically – seemed just right for her part as Humility.
-James Stevenson, Radar Review, March 2005