Dr. Maria Briggs (nee Okunev) makes her Island City Opera as beautiful Tsarevna (Princess) Nenaglyadnaya Krasa imprisoned by the evil wizard Kashchey the Immortal in his gloomy kingdom on January 21st at 2pm.
Dr. Briggs, a Russian born, Australian soprano, and music educator. Maria started her training in piano and choral conducting in Moscow. She then moved to Sydney, Australia where she received Bachelor of Music (piano performance) from Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Maria then switched to classical voice for her Masters and Doctoral degrees (Sydney Conservatorium). Maria’s doctoral work was conducted in Australia and UK and was looking at training of young opera singers.
Since then Maria has sung with Opera Australia, Pacific Opera, Lyric Opera Weimar and Glyndebourne Opera Festival, UK. She is a multiple prize winner of Australian National and International opera competitions. Maria was the winner of MIETTA recital award in 2008 and received her prize from Maestro Richard Bonynge. Maria is well known as a superb recitalist and champion of contemporary repertoire. She has recorded new Australian works for voice and small ensemble with ABC Classic FM radio. She also frequently sings in ABC Radio live broadcasts.
Maria made her television debut in 2010 in the film I Spry – The Rise and Fall of a Master Spy, ABC Television playing the role of a Russian singer (Hugo Weaving – presenter). Maria joined Fresno State music department in August of 2016 as Assistant Professor of Voice. She now lives in Fresno with her husband Matthew and two-year-old son Seraphim. Since coming on board she performed with Fresno State Symphony orchestra, sang in solo recitals and directed the department opera production of Strauss “Die Fledermaus”.
As a stage director Maria has worked with young singers for many years. Her work included staging opera, Musical Theatre as well as gala showcases and cross-disciplinary performances.