Persian soprano Raeeka Shehabi-Yaghmai possesses a unique fusion of versatility, strength, and sensitivity in both her singing and stage presence – a combination that is earning her the acclaim of audiences and critics alike. Characterized as “entrancing,” she has been described as volcanic and compassionate, visually enticing, instinctual, and totally committed.
Making her foray into the lyric soprano repertoire, Ms. Shehabi-Yaghmai recently performed Cio-Cio San (Madama Butterfly) in a concert performance with Berkeley Academy. In January, she was invited to perform at the prestigious San Francisco Herbst Theatre for the city’s Sherriff Elect inauguration ceremony. In 2011 she sang her final mezzo-soprano role with Center Stage Opera as Prince Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus) and made her soprano debut in the role of Donna Elvira with both Project Opera and Redwood Symphony. The 2012-13 season includes a concert performance with Maestro Loris Tjeknavorian, Fransquitta (Carmen) with Cinnabar Opera and singing songs from the Persian Melody Project with Redwood Symphony.
Formerly in the mezzo-soprano repertoire, her operatic credits include Poppea, Ottavia, Prince Orlofsky, Rosina, Zerlina Cherubino, Dorabella, Siebel, Suzuki, Flora, Lola, Hansel, Polina, Mrs. Page, Nancy, Mother, Dinah, and the title roles in Carmen, Iolanthe and La Perichole.
Ms. Shehabi-Yaghmai made her European debut singing the title role in Carmen at Opera Brasov in Romania. A favorite on the West Coast, she has worked with companies including San Francisco Opera Center, North Bay Opera, El Dorado Opera, Livermore Opera, Oakland Opera theatre, Bear Valley Music Festival, Mendocino Music Festival, Festival del Sol, Orchestra Nova, West Bay Opera, and Center Stage Opera, among others.
Equally at home in the solo concert and recital repertoire, Ms Shehabi-Yaghmai’s concert work includes Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, Mozart's Coronation Mass and Requiem, Bach's Magnificat, and Haydn’s Mass for Prince Nicolai and Lord Nelson Mass. She is much sought after for her expressive and well-balanced programs and has been engaged for guest performances by Salinas College, Brand Library, Iranian Women Scholarship Foundation, California State University of Northridge Alumni Performances, San Francisco Conservatory of Music Faculty Performances, and Ensemble Parallele. An intelligent artist, Ms. Shehabi-Yaghmai is a frequent performer of new music and was featured in composer Alden Jenks’ world premier of his electronic chamber opera entitled The Soup. She frequently receives performance opportunities due to her ability to learn music quickly and accurately.
An avid interpreter of Persian folksong and melodies, Ms. Shehabi-Yaghmai founded the Persian Melody Project (PMP) and has done extensive research on the genre. In 2007, PMP began collaboration with composer David Garner, and in 2008 the project was awarded a generous grant from the Unique Zan Foundation. Ms. Shehabi-Yaghmai’s recital for the well-known Brand Library Music Series (Glendale, CA) marked the debut performance of a number of Persian song melodies arranged for piano and voice. She has also been seen performing this genre as a featured soloist with the Oakland East Bay Symphony and Monterey Symphony and in Heidelberg, Germany, among many other distinguished foundation and gala events. In August, the Project’s debut CD will be released followed by an interview in London with BBC Persian.