Regina Ceragioli is taking her music talents to a new level as she works toward a career as an opera singer. The 27-year-old has graduated from church music at Infant Jesus of Prague in Flossmoor and school choirs at Marian Catholic High School to vocal performance with the Santa Fe Opera.
Regina Ceragioli is taking her music talents to a new level as she works toward a career as an opera singer.
The 27-year-old has graduated from church music at Infant Jesus of Prague in Flossmoor and school choirs at Marian Catholic High School to vocal performance with the Santa Fe Opera.
The soprano recently won the Wisconsin district of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and is competing at regionals in Minnesota in January. She also is hoping to land a two-year contract with a young artists program associated with an opera company.
She’s always loved to sing, and credits Chicago Heights vocal teacher Lisa Kristina with instilling in her an enthusiasm and appreciation for vocal works. Kristina gave Ceragioli private lessons while she was at Marian Catholic.
“She was the first person who heard something in my voice and said I should look at classical music,” Ceragioli said. “My first arias and first art songs were all through her, and she just was really encouraging me that I had some talent in that area.”
But when it came time for college at Butler University, Ceragioli signed in as a double-major in biology and music. Her father, Richard, is a pediatrician and her mother, Sarah, is a nurse. Science seemed a good fit. She’d also gotten a music scholarship.
“Then I got my first professional job at Butler my freshman year. It was a tiny chorus part with a little extra in ‘Madama Butterfly.’ I had two lines and I was paid maybe $200 for who know how many hours.
“But that was the first time anyone had paid me to sing. I was 18 and it blew my mind. I was singing with professionals. That was when I dropped the biology major. That was the first encouragement I got from a real source, not my teacher telling me I was great,” Ceragioli recalls.
Following graduation Ceragioli continued her education at Northwestern University where she earned a master’s degree in vocal performance in 2016.
Being one of 14 students in the program meant intensive study and work on stage.
“I sang four or five roles before I graduated and that was just operas,” she said. “I had opportunities in the chorus and orchestra. For me, that’s what I needed — time to be live on the stage, be more comfortable. I wasn’t a natural. It took me longer to be comfortable with that.”
The most famous operas were written in German, French and Italian, so her Northwestern coursework included diction courses in those languages. She’s also taken some Italian courses and is learning German.
In the 2016-17 season, Ceragioli was on stage at Central City Opera House in Colorado singing in the chorus and covering lead roles.
She also sang with Opera for the Young, a touring program taking opera to schools. When they performed "Rusalka," by Dvorak, the story about a water sprite, Ceragioli was in a mermaid costume.
“I had that tail and they had a little scooter for me to get around. It was very, very fun,” she said.
She’s now a fellow with the Chicago Luminarts Foundation after winning their competition in 2017.
The past two summers, she’s been an apprentice artist at the Santa Fe Opera. She got to cover Leila, the lead female role, in Georges Bizet’s “Pearl Fisher.”
“That’s been my big starting piece this year,” Ceragioli said. “It was really important in my development and one of the first roles where I really fit like a puzzle piece. It was just a close fit.”
She uses the aria as one she sings for judges when auditioning for roles.
“One of things I didn’t expect from the career that’s been really fun is the places that it’s taken me. I’ve gotten to sing in California, Colorado, New Mexico and out East and in Europe. It’s given me a chance to travel,” she said.
Ceragioli is back home in Flossmoor waiting for her next opportunity. In between, she’s been singing at weddings, funerals, special events, as well as working for an online company and taking on side jobs.