Briana Hunter hails from Malvern, Pennsylvania where she was a student in the Great Valley School District, recognized for their strong music and theater programs. She took quickly to performing, and was cast in each production every year from grades 5-12. Notable roles included Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Tituba The Crucible, Rosabella The Most Happy Fella, Beatrice Much Ado About Nothing.
Following broader academic pursuits, Ms. Hunter attended Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. However she found herself on the stage once again, this time under the direction of the Royal Shakespeare Company in an original production double billed Infinite Variety/For Every Passion Something. The show would also have her call upon her vocal abilities as she presented “The Willow Song” by Rossini in addition to playing the roles of Hippolyta Midsummer Nights Dream and Lord Westmorland Henry IV: Part I. The show debuted on the campus of Davidson College, and continued performances in the Fringe Festival in Scotland for an additional two week run. Back in North Carolina, Ms. Hunter went on to play Livia in Women Beware Women by Thomas Middleton, J.S. in Necessary Targets and “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could” The Vagina Monologues both by Eve Ensler, Karla Wonder of the World by David Lindsey-Abaire. No stranger to the music department, she also performed in opera scenes including 2nd Lady Die Zauberflote and Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, and the title role of Josephine in a full production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore. The Davidson Concert Choir awarded her the solo in John Corigliano's Fern Hill. As she prepared her first classical solo recital in her last year at Davidson, she prepared audition recordings, as well, and went on to attend the prestigious Manhattan School of Music for Classical Voice.
While at MSM she performed in mainstage productions with the opera department (Summer and Smoke, La vida breve, Of Love and Loss: Opera Scenes, The Ghosts of Versailles), the American Musical Theater Ensemble (Godspell, Ragtime), Outreach concerts, Independent projects (Trouble in Tahiti), as well as producing, directing, and performing (“Because He Liked to Look at It”) in MSM’s very first production of The Vagina Monologues which to her delight included faculty and staff members in addition to students in its cast. While at MSM she joined La Lingua della Lirica in Novafeltria, Italy two consecutive years performing concerts throughout the Emilia-Romagna region and receiving intensive coachings in Italian language, diction, and acting.
2012 was an extremely busy and exciting year for Briana Elyse Hunter. She presented two recitals, the first at Bryn Mawr College in her home state Pennsylvania and her MSM graduation recital in January. In February she was awarded 2nd alternate in the Eisenberg-Fried Concerto Competition (Sieben frühe lieder by A. Berg), performed in Marilyn Horne’s public masterclass at MSM, and in April competed in the Lotte Lenya Competition finals at Eastman and performed in MSM production of The Ghosts of Versailles. In May she sang the role of Sarah in Ragtime with the American Musical Theater Ensemble. The summer didn’t mean things slowed down. The next stop was Reno, Nevada, to perform with Nevada Opera for two weeks in several Opera Shorts and concerts as a part of the city’s ARTown festival. Then it was off to China for almost two months with Hao Jiang Tian’s I SING BEIJING program where she studied Mandarin, coached both Chinese and Western repertoire, and performed in several Beijing venues including the city’s top performance hall, The National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA). Upon her return to the states she picked up performing with Opera Singer’s Initiative in NYC as a member of their 2012 roster, and reunited with some old colleagues from La Lingua della Lirica to perform at the opening gala of Classic Lyric Arts (an organization encompassing both the Italy program and L’Art du Chant in France). To close out 2012 she performed the role of Rachel in Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom presented by American Opera Projects in Brooklyn.
2013 it was off to Sarasota Opera for a warm winter season spent as an Apprentice Artist, followed by a her first Cendrillon as Cendrillon with New York Lyric Opera. This summer she studied with French tenor Michel Sénéchal and performed four concerts in the southwest Périgord region of France, and then tackled the Russian language back in NYC in Tchaikovsky's Iolantha as Laura with Opera Slavica.
To close out a wonderful 2013, Ms. Hunter returned to Sarasota Opera for their fall season to sing the role of Ida in Die Fledermaus and cover the role of Prince Orlofsky. Upon her return to NYC, she had the incredible honor to sing beside Hao Jiang Tian and her fellow ISINGBEIJINGers at Carnegie Hall to a full house.
2014 promises to be even more exciting beginning with a reprisal of the role of Rachel in Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom with AOP, followed by the premiere of a new work BUM PHILLIPS! with Monk Parrot, Inc, and singing La Chatte/L'Ecureuil in Ravel's L'Enfant et les Sortilèges with Loft Opera. Then it's farewell to NYC once again to sing the title role in Carmen with Marilyn Horne's prestigious program Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, CA.
See all of Briana's upcoming and previous engagements here.