Known for her powerful voice and galvanizing performances, mezzo-soprano Margaret Gawrysiak’s original engagements for the 2020-2021 COVID-affected season include her return to Virginia Opera as Ruth in Pirates of Penzance (cancelled), a return to her home company of Seattle Opera as the Older Woman in Jonathan Dove’s Flight, and her debut with Madison Opera as Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro. Ms. Gawrysiak’s COVID-19 shortened 2019-2020 season included engagements as Madame Larina in Eugene Onegin with Seattle Opera (performed), and her debut with Dallas Opera as Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia (cancelled).
In the 2018-2019 season, Ms. Gawrysiak was seen as the Old Lady in Candide with The Knights at Tanglewood and Ravinia, Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro for her return to Opera Colorado, Madame Larina in Eugene Onegin with Atlanta Opera, and Emma Jones in Street Scene with Virginia Opera. The 2017-2018 season saw a return to Seattle Opera as Berta in The Barber of Seville, and appearances with the Seattle Symphony for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and New York City Ballet for Stravinsky’s Les noces.
During the 2016-2017 season, the mezzo-soprano performed as Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro and Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance with Lyric Opera of Kansas City; Zita and Frugola in Opera Company of Middlebury’s production of Il Trittico; and the Old Lady in Candide with Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.
The mezzo-soprano’s 2015-2016 season featured a wide range of performances, including the world premiere of Lori Laitman’s Scarlet Letter with Opera Colorado as Mistress Hibbons; Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro with Seattle Opera; Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd with Fresno Grand Opera; and Public Opinion in Orpheus in the Underworld with Virginia Opera.
Other notable recent engagements for Margaret Gawrysiak include:
Little Buttercup in H.M.S. Pinafore with Virginia Opera; the Marquise in La fille du régiment with Arizona Opera; Mrs. De Rocher in Dead Man Walking with Dayton Opera; Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro, and Vera Boronel in The Consul with Seattle Opera; Ježibaba in Rusalka with North Carolina Opera; Frugola in Il tabarro with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis; Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica with Crested Butte Music Festival; Dame Quickly in Falstaff, Baba the Turk and Mother Goose in The Rake’s Progress, Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, and La Mère d’Antonia in Les contes d’Hoffmann with Wolf Trap Opera; Zita in Gianni Schicchi at the Castleton Festival; Giovanna in Rigoletto with Florida Grand Opera; and a workshop of Nico Muhly’s Two Boys with the Metropolitan Opera.
On the concert stage, she has performed Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood under Maestro Lorin Maazel; Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel with the Seattle Symphony; Dessau’s Haggadah shel Pesach with the American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall; Mozart’s Requiem and Verdi’s Requiem with the Springfield Symphony, and Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.
Ms. Gawrysiak is a graduate of Seattle Opera’s Young Artist Program; as a member, she was featured as Dinah in Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, Zita in Gianni Schicchi, Olga in Eugene Onegin, and Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She also graduated from San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, where she covered Beppe in L’amico Fritz, and performed Isabella in scenes from L’italiana in Algeri on the Schwabacher Concert Program. Margaret also participated for two summers at Glimmerglass Opera as a young artist, where she performed as Juno in Orpheus in the Underworld, and covered the roles of the Grandmother and Aunt in Jenůfa.
In 2009 Margaret was a winner of the Sullivan Foundation Award and received second place in the Lotte Lenya Competition. She has received awards from the Jensen Foundation, Portland Opera’s Lieber Awards, the Gerda Lissner Foundation, and Fort Worth Opera’s McCammon Awards. She is a graduate of Eastman School of Music and Western Illinois University.
Seattle Opera – Il barbiere di Siviglia
And mezzo-soprano Margaret Gawrysiak, as the servant Berta, shone in her powerhouse aria (“Il vecchiotto”) about the craziness of people in love.”
Melinda Bargreen, Seattle Times
Orlando Philharmonic – Candide
Margaret Gawrysiak makes an especially fine bawdy older woman.”
Matthew Palm, Orlando Sentinel
“Margaret Gawrysiak, as both old lady and the baroness, infused her moments with charming humor.”
Louis Roney, Winter Park Observer
Fresno Grand Opera – Sweeney Todd
“The supporting cast own their respective roles as well, especially Margaret Gawrysiak as Mrs. Lovett, Todd’s landlady and partner-in-crime. Her mezzo-soprano vocals soar with her every emotion, whether she’s imagining a coastal life of wedded bliss with Sweeney or cooking up plans, literally, to incorporate Todd’s victims into her meat pies.”
Sarah Peterson, King’s River
Opera Colorado – Scarlet Letter
the unrestrained taunting of Dimmesdale by the town witch, Mistress Hibbons…served as a fine showpiece for Margaret Gawrysiak, whose angry tirade called up memories of Azucena and Ulrica. The mezzo’s powerful voice contrasted with the more muted singing of Laura Claycomb.”
Marcy Shulgold, Opera News
“Equally frightening is mezzo-soprano Margaret Gawrysiak as Mistress Hibbons, a witch-like figure whose very reality is in doubt.”
Kelly Dean Hansen, Daily Camera
Seattle Opera – Le nozze di Figaro
Margaret Gawrysiak was a ripely colorful Marcellina.”
Mark Mandel, Opera News
Arizona Opera – Daughter of the Regiment
The biggest laughs, though, were generated by Gawrysiak, who also is blessed with a strong, attention-grabbing voice. Gawrysiak was plain-out funny in every scene she performed, whether it was fainting at the arrival of French soldiers in Act I or coyly hitting on Sergeant Sulpice.”
Cathalena E. Burch, Arizona Daily Star
“Donizetti did not often write major roles for lower women’s voices but the comedic Marquise of Berkenfeld is an exception. Mezzo Margret Gawrysiak played her part broadly and showed her true vocal ability in her aria, “Pour une Femme de mon Nom.”
Maria Nockin, Opera Today
Virginia Opera – HMS Pinafore
Margaret Gawrysiak, whose versatile mezzo-soprano and splendid acting as Little Buttercup captured the opera’s heart and soul.”
Grace Jean, The Washington Post
Opera Theater of St. Louis – Il Tabarro
Rich-voiced mezzo-soprano Margaret Gawrysiak was warm and funny.”
Sarah Bryan Miller, St Louis Post Dispatch
Wolf Trap Opera – The Rake’s Progress
Mezzo-soprano Margaret Gawrysiak, as Mother Goose and Baba the Turk, had a hilariously raucous tone and scenery-chewing antics that nearly stole the show.”
Charles T. Downey, The Washington Post
“In “The Rake’s Progress,” the opera ain’t over ’til the bearded lady sings. That’s Baba the Turk, the needy, demanding, facially hairy circus star Tom marries just to thumb his nose at the world…Margaret Gawrysiak brings a plummy mezzo and abundant comic exuberance to the role, and also taps into character’s warmer side in the last act.”
Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun
Virginia Opera – Hansel and Gretel
“At the top of the singers’ pyramid in this production, however, was mezzo Margaret Gawrysiak, cast in the dual roles of the not-so-wicked actual Mom as well as that wicked old witch in the second act. We’ve seen Ms. Gawrysiak in area productions before, including her performance as a convincing Mrs. Lovett in this summer’s Wolf Trap Opera performance of Sweeney Todd. She’s got a powerful voice, great acting chops, and is unafraid of physical comedy as well—all of which are significant assets in this opera. Her performance, particularly as the witch, galvanizes everyone into action in this production, which is an added plus—not to mention that she lends a virtual grand opera presence to the performance.”
The Washington Times
Wolf Trap Opera – Sweeney Todd
Margaret Gawrysiak’s Mrs. Lovett particularly shone in this regard. This role of the purveyor of meat pies made from the bodies of Todd’s victims is so often given to non-singing character actresses — Angela Lansbury, Helena Bonham Carter — that it’s a treat to hear it done by a real singer. Gawrysiak — backed by experienced conductor Larry Blank, who offered reasonably efficient leadership of the National Symphony Orchestra on Friday — took her music a bit slower than the ideal and flagged toward the end of the evening’s showpiece, “A Little Priest,” but offered compensation with an amusing performance and a hefty, easy and sweet sound.”
Anne Midgette, The Washington Post
Castleton Festival – Il Trittico
When three female relatives surround Schicchi, helping him to prepare to masquerade as the dead uncle so he can forge a new will, the trio was meltingly gorgeous. Margaret Gawrysiak, who was also Frugola in “Tabarro,” showed a powerful voice.”
Anne Midgette, The Washington Post
“The slightly larger role of the ubiquitous, obnoxious Zita was smartly sung by Margaret Gawrysiak.”
Terry Ponick, The Washington Times
San Francisco Opera – Merola Grand Finale
Mezzo-soprano Margaret Gawrysiak blew us away with her glorious rendition of “Da, chas nastal! … Prastitye vi” from Tchaikovsky’s Joan of Arc. Hers is a voice of substance and gravity, with considerable pathos. The fabulous, blazing ending had us all cheering as if our lives depended on it.”
Jason Victor Serinus, San Francisco Classical Voice
Aspen Opera Theatre – Cendrillon
The cast delivered a good performance all around, generally well sung and enthusiastically acted. Standouts included mezzo-soprano Margaret Gawrysiak as a domineering stepmother”
Harvey Steiman, The Aspen Times
Seattle Opera’s Young Artist Program – Gianni Schicchi
Mezzo-soprano Margaret Gawrysiak created a gem of her role as Zita.”
Philippa Kiraly, Seattle Post Intelligencer
“Soprano Margaret Gawrysiak acted the scowling, matronly Zita to a tee.”
Lorin Wilkerson, Northwest Reverb