Mezzo-soprano Luretta Bybee has proven to be an artist of remarkable range and versatility in her performances throughout the world and is in demand as a dynamic and comedic singing actress. Continuing her forays into the realm of musical theater, Ms. Bybee has portrayed roles such as Madame Armfeldt in A Little Night Music with the Pine Mountain Music Festival, Little Buttercup in H.M.S. Pinafore and her role début as Golde in Fiddler on the Roof at Shreveport Opera, Ruth in Pirates of Penzance with San Diego Opera, and Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd at Vancouver Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, New Orleans Opera, and Opera Tampa.
Recent engagements include performing as Mary in Der fliegende Holländer with Dallas Opera, Opera Carolina, and Seattle Opera, On Broadway with the Springfield Symphony, Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro for New Orleans Opera, Madame de la Haltière in Cendrillon with New Orleans Opera, and Dame Marthe in Faust with Arizona Opera. She also sang as a soloist in the New York Festival of Song Sondheim Concert at Carnegie Hall and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Seattle Symphony and San Antonio Symphony. 2020 engagements were to include a return to Carnegie Hall for The Music of Carly Simon and Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro with Maryland Lyric Opera.
She first made her Seattle Opera début as Princess Maria in Francesca Zambello’s production of War and Peace, which was released on video. She returned as a house favorite as Paula in Florencia en el Amazonas, Amanda in the world premiere of Daron Hagen and Gardner McFall’s Amelia, Klytämnestra in Elektra, Mary in Der fliegende Holländer, Waltraute in Die Walküre, Second Norn and Waltraute in Götterdämmerung, and Fricka in both Das Rheingold and Die Walküre. She has appeared in Seattle Opera’s Der Ring des Nibelungen in their cycles in 2005, 2009, and 2013. Other appearances have included Herodias in Salome at the Arizona Opera, Orlando Opera, and Cleveland Opera; Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera with Opera Memphis; the title role in The Rape of Lucretia for Opéra de Montréal; and Dalila in Samson et Dalila with Memphis Opera.
International recognition came early in her career when she sang the title role in the world tour of Peter Brook’s La tragédie de Carmen. Bizet’s heroine has since figured heavily in Ms. Bybee’s career success. The Seattle Times noted, “Luretta Bybee…is a sexy, adroit Carmen whose wealth of experience shows in every phrase and gesture.” She has performed the role for more than 25 opera companies throughout the world.
Ms. Bybee’s interpretations of Rossini characters earlier in her career garnered widespread recognition and praise. In addition to her appearances as Isabella in L’italiana in Algeri at New York City Opera, she sang the role in Cologne, Dublin, and at the Festival International de Santander. She made her Frankfurt Opera début in concert performances of Tancredi and sang the role of Falliero in the American premiere of Rossini’s Bianca e Falliero at Florida Grand Opera. Ms. Bybee also enjoyed great success as Farnace in Mitridate, re di Ponto at the Wexford Festival and in Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.
The Verdi Requiem marked Ms. Bybee’s début at Carnegie Hall. She also appeared as the mezzo-soprano soloist in a Verdi gala with the Jacksonville Symphony and sang Bernstein’s Songfestto open the season at the 92nd Street Y in New York and again with Seiji Ozawa at the Tanglewood Festival. Additionally, she sang Handel’s Messiah with the Colorado and Houston Symphonies. Ms. Bybee created the role of Joanna in Carly Simon’s opera Romulus Hunt in its world premiere in New York. The production was directed by Francesca Zambello and recorded for Angel records.
A sought-after educator, clinician, and competition judge, Professor Bybee serves on the voice faculty at Loyola University’s College of Music and Fine Arts in New Orleans.
"...brightly ornamented vocals..." – New Orleans Advocate
Sweeney Todd – “As Mrs. Lovett, mezzo-soprano Luretta Bybee (Grimsley’s wife of 30 years) is the near-perfect accomplice to his villainy, grinding up the bodies of his victims and baking them into meat pies she cheerfully sells to adoring customers. Her brightly ornamented vocals are a reflection of that joy, as well as the joy she and Sweeney share in their “By the Sea” duet.”
"...presence commanded the stage...” – Nola Defender
Cendrillon – “His despotic wife Mme. De la Haltiere, was played with brilliant authority by mezzo Luretta Bybee, whose presence commanded the stage.”
"...acted to perfection..." – Green Valley News
Faust – “Marthe Schwerlein was sung by Luretta Bybee and acted to perfection as the seductive “older” widow bent on catching Mephistopheles as her second husband.”
"...finely tuned and versatile vocal instrument..." – The Tennessean
Aida – “Bybee manages to convey love and jealousy with complete believability through her finely tuned and versatile vocal instrument. One feels greatly for her character despite Amneris’ flaws.”
"...nice comic turn..." – Seattle Times
Falstaff – “Luretta Bybee had a nice comic turn as the indispensable Dame – Quickly.”