strikes the right balance of charm, boyishness, and ambiguously implied decadence, particularly in the “Malo” song and the spine-tingle conclusion of Act I.”
-A Fool in the Forest, January 2014
Praised for her “ravishing coloratura” and “vivid” singing, Italian-American soprano Ariel Downs makes an impression with her adventurous repertoire and intense stage presence. The 2023/24 season brings her house debut with Opera Modesto creating the role of Zamira in the world premiere of Evan Meier's Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Fallen Giant. Later in the season, Ariel returns to Thompson Street Opera to sing Voce 1 in the US premiere of Il nostro posto nel mondo.
The 2022/23 season brought several exciting debuts, including Ariel's Carnegie Hall debut singing selections from Lakmé and Der Rosenkavalier, as well as her role and house debut as Mabel (The Pirates of Penzance) with Heartland Opera Theatre. She also returned to Thompson Street Opera to sing Calco in The Boy Who Wanted to be a Robot.
As a sought after interpreter of new works, Ariel has originated several roles such as Queen Amarosa (The Bucket), Chrissy (percs.), and Gale (The Nightingale and the Rose). In 2022, she joined Thompson Street Opera for the first time to cover She in the American premiere of The Kamikaze Mind and Recipe in the stage premiere of Would You Eat Me? Ariel has also been an artist fellow with the Cortona Sessions for New Music and New Music on the Point where she premiered numerous art songs and chamber music.
Within the standard repertoire, her roles include Despina (Cosi fan tutte) and Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi) with Mid-Ohio Civic Opera, Nannetta (Falstaff) with Lawrence Opera Theatre, Miss Silverpeal (The Impresario) and Musetta (La bohème) with Midwest Opera Theater, Taumännchen/Gretel (Hänsel und Gretel) with the Bar Harbor Music Festival, Miss Wordsworth (Albert Herring), Adele (Die Fledermaus), Serpetta (La finta giardiniera), and Belinda (Dido and Aeneas) with the University of Missouri Kansas City.
Ariel is a recipient of the Koch Cultural Trust Artist Grant, the Sigma Alpha Iota Professional Development Grant, and a two-time recipient of the UMKC Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund. She was a finalist in the 2021 Artist Presentation Society Competition, the 2019 Coeur d’Alene Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition, and the 2019 University of Missouri Kansas City Concerto Aria Competition. In 2023, she was named both the Winner and Audience Favorite prizes from the Sinfonietta Bel Canto Competition.
Ariel received her degrees in Voice Performance from the University of Missouri Kansas City under the tutelage of Maria Kanyova. She resides in Chicago with her partner and her tabby cat Snicklefritz (the real star of the show).