Lyric coloratura soprano Abigail Raiford was noted for her “powerful, luxurious soprano voice, as well as her wonderfully comic way of weeping as the woebegone Elvira” in Tulsa Opera’s production of Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri. She looks forward to performing as the soprano soloist in Carmina Burana with the Emory University Symphony Orchestra & Choir, and to her return to Tulsa Opera this fall for her role debut as Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance. Recently, she was named a District Winner of the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition’s Tulsa District, an Encouragement Award Winner of the Gerda Lissner IVC and won an Incentive Award from the SAS Performing Arts Company Vocal Competition. Over the summer of 2022, she made a splash during her first season with Central City Opera as a Bonfils-Stanton Studio Artist. In the same weekend, she learned and performed the role of Krysia in Heggie's Two Remain with mere hours of preparation, and then stepped in as Ida in Die Fledermaus. She was given the Central City Opera Guild's McGlone Award at the end of the summer. Other highlights from this season include completing her third season as a young artist with Sarasota Opera, and being named a finalist in the Emerging Artist Division of the MIOpera Vocal Competition.
In 2021, she made her debut with St. Petersburg Opera Company, covering Despina in Così fan tutte and singing Olympia in Davies’ Pinocchio. She also won 2nd Prize in the SAS Performing Arts Company 2021 Vocal Competition, was a Finalist of the NH Opera Idol Virtual Competition, and was a Semi-Finalist in the Artist Division of the Camille Coloratura Awards. Earlier in the season, she returned to Sarasota Opera, where she previously made her debut as an Apprentice Artist in their Winter 2020 season, taking the stage as Second Witch in their production of Dido & Aeneas, and performing the role of Belinda for a family performance.
A lover of Mozart, her most performed operatic roles have been the Queen of the Night (Die Zauberflöte) and Despina (Così fan tutte), and other highlights include Rose Maurrant (Street Scene), First Lady (Die Zauberflöte), Anicasia (La Dolorosa), and Yum-Yum (The Mikado). Her vocalism has thrilled audiences on the concert stage as well, especially in Milhaud’s Chansons de Ronsard with the Mannes Orchestra, and John Mackey’s Songs From the End of the World with the University of Tulsa Wind Ensemble.
Ms. Raiford has gained recognition as a finalist and Encouragement Award winner in the Student Division of the 2019 Camille Coloratura Awards, winning the Mannes Concerto Competition and the University of Tulsa Concerto Competition, being a two-time winner of the Riverside Opera Company Auditions, receiving the Hyechka Club of Tulsa’s Laven Sowell Collegiate Vocal Scholarship and the Sigma Alpha Iota Collegiate Honor Award.
She has trained in programs across the country, most notably at Songfest in their Professional Program, the Crittenden Opera Studio Workshop, Manhattan Opera Studio, Mark Oswald’s Summer Opera Experience, Classical Singing and New York in June, and the Amherst Early Music Festival under Kent Tritle. During the summer of 2016, she spent six weeks studying music in the heart of Vienna, Austria. In 2019, Ms. Raiford completed her Master of Music in Voice at the Mannes School of Music as a student of Amy Burton, where she was presented with the George and Elizabeth Gregory Award for Excellence in Performing. She received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Tulsa in 2017, under the tutelage of her mother, Judith Pannill Raiford.
Outside of her work as a soloist, she has enjoyed many performing opportunities singing in professional ensembles. Since completing her Master's degree, she sang for the soundtracks of Ang Lee's Gemini Man and Olivia Wilde's Don't Worry Darling, performed with Musica Sacra and the New York Philharmonic for their concert of Close Encounters of the Third Kind in David Geffen Hall, joined Essential Voices for their performance in A Celebration of Women in the Arts at Alice Tully Hall, and took part in the China Now Music Festival, singing in the world premiere of Zhou Long's Mandarin oratorio Men of Iron and the Golden Spike. She has also sung with the Queens College Choral Society twice as a guest chorister in performances of Handel's Messiah, Mozart's Mass in C Minor, and Brahms' Schicksalslied. Currently she maintains her position as Soprano 1 at The Church of the Holy Trinity on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
When she's not singing, she loves cooking, taking walks around her beloved neighborhood in Queens, and playing video games, with her favorite games coming from the Fire Emblem and Pokémon series. As a teenager, she was deeply influenced by the music of David Bowie, Tom Waits, the Dave Matthews Band, Ben Folds, and Lorde, and she continues to be inspired by their music today. She is a proud sister of Sigma Alpha Iota, and has been an active member of the New York Alumnae Chapter since 2018. She plans to one day travel the Japanese countryside, the great cities of Italy, and the frozen landscapes of Scandinavia.