Kira Dills-DeSurra is a vibrant American mezzo-soprano whose magnetic stage presence communicates effortless charm and truth. A champion of new and rarely performed works, Dills-DeSurra has appeared in many American premieres, and she also cultivates skills in musical improvisation and circus arts as part of her broad-ranging palate of storytelling tools.
In 2019/20 Dills-DeSurra returns to Opera Colorado as an Artist in Residence, singing a performance of Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Shepherd Boy (Tosca) and principal roles in touring productions. Fall 2019 she joins San Diego Symphony as the mezzo-soprano soloist in Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream under Maestro Rafael Payare.
Summer of 2019 Dills-DeSurra endeavored into early music, playing Diana/Giove in Diana in La Calisto with Opera NEO. The 2018/19 season marked her debut with Opera Colorado, singing Flora (La traviata), Gertrude Stein (Tom Cipullo’s After Life), and Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro). She was also featured in touring productions as Stéphano (Roméo et Juliette) and Hansel (Hansel and Gretel).
Dills-DeSurra was an Apprentice Artist in Central City Opera’s 2018 and 2017 summer festivals, performing Zweite Dame (Die Zauberflöte), covering Ines (Il trovatore), featuring as a soloist in Encore: A Musical Revue, and singing Mercédès (Carmen).
She made her role debut as Vera Boronel in a Chicago Opera Theater and Long Beach Opera co-production of The Consul in 2017. With Chicago Opera Theater/Long Beach Opera she was also featured as Nurse and Secretary in Glass’s The Perfect American, Isolde of the White Hands in Frank Martin’s Le Vin Herbé, and Lysander (cover) in The Fairy Queen. Additional credits with Chicago Opera Theater include La Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi, Cecilio (cover) in Mozart’s Lucio Silla, and Mary in the Chicago premiere of Amy Beach’s Cabildo. Dills-DeSurra is a graduate of the Chicago Opera Theater Young Artist Program.
A gifted singing actress in a wide range of repertoire, Dills-DeSurra’s role highlights also include Stéphano in Roméo et Juliette (Lorin Maazel’s Castleton Festival), Chewy in the world premiere of Hand to Mouth (First Look Sonoma), and an Actress in Sir David McVicar’s production of Elektra (Lyric Opera of Chicago). She is also a founding member of Forte Chicago, an all-female opera improv troupe with whom she has collaboratively created and starred in four major productions. Dills-DeSurra’s love and affinity for comedy began with operetta; she has performed many Gilbert and Sullivan roles, including The Fairy Queen in Iolanthe, Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, the title character in Patience, Pitti-Sing in The Mikado, Mad Margaret in Ruddigore, and Casilda in The Gondoliers.
Dills-DeSurra’s artistic achievement has been recognized through success in competition and various awards. She was a National Finalist in the Classical Singer Music Vocal Competition (2017), and she won first place in both the National Association of Teachers of Singing Competition, Chicago (2016) and Evanston Music Club/North Shore Musicians Club Competition (2016). Other accolades include the Metropolitan Opera National Council St. Louis District Encouragement Award (2016), Central City Opera John Vivian Richard Award (2018) and Central City Opera Guild Award (2017).
Hailing from Petaluma, California, Dills-DeSurra earned a Master of Music and Artist Diploma from Roosevelt University: Chicago College of Performing Arts and a Bachelor of Music from University of Southern California.