Keanon Kyles

Keanon Kyles






My love for Opera started in Chicago, Il where I was raised! I made my opera debut in “La Boheme” as Colline and since then have gone on to perform both new works and classical repertoire in Japan, Italy, London, South America, Germany, Scotland and more! I made my Carnegie Hall solo debut in 2019 which was the same year I made my Lyric Opera of Chicago debut in their world premiere of, “Earth to Kenzie” Aside from operatic performances, I’ve performed a plethora of concert work with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I’m so grateful to be a two time Reva and David Logan Foundation grant recipient and fellow, as well as, 2022 Illinois Arts Council Grant recipient. I truly believe every artist has a unique story and journey that can resonate across the globe and I’m humbled that my artistic journey has been highlighted by Good Morning America, BBC News, CNN, NPR amongst other major media outlets. With the desire to invest more into my vocal growth, in 2020 I accepted the Chicago Opera Theater/ Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University’s Professional Diploma and Young Artist position and completed that program in May 2022.


What does a typical day in the PORA program look like for you? 

A typical day for me, let's say, a Tuesday would be PORA yoga in the Camerata Room with the amazing Alison Wesley. Then I'd head to the music studio to  coach with resident artist coach Nick Fox, after that, I'd do some score study in the Verdi practice room (my personal favorite). At this point in my day I'm pondering what to eat and/or if I should record a TikTok lol, more than likely I go for the TikTok-- yeah I don't always make the best choices lol. Now since Carmen staging rehearsals are in full swing (hooray!); I'm running to those throughout the day as well. 


What are you most enjoying so far or most looking forward to in the PORA program? 

I'm loving the community of artists, colleagues and friends I am creating here during my residency. It has especially been a joy to share the room and stage  with Judy, Matt and Cloe, my PORA family. I'm happy we got the chance to chat with administration in detail so that we can see how an Opera company is ran and what role we play as Young Artist in making Opera more relatable, innovative and accessible. Needless to say I am so looking forward to getting Carmen on the Keller Stage; we have a stellar cast that's ready to tell a traditional story in a new and refreshing way. 


Who is someone you admire, and why?

 I must say I'm so proud to have parents that have been on board with my crazy dream of performing Opera all around the world. I'm sure it is not always easy to digest when your child tells you they are going to make a living off of singing. What I admire about my parents and only can hope there are more parents alike, is that they took that crazy dream and amplified it by enrolling me in courses, choirs and organizations that they felt would help me each step of the way. They provided me with instruments, books and events that they knew would feed my desire to perform. Amongst all, something you can't buy off the shelf or online they encouraged me to go forward and reassured me that if ever I didn't want to continue they would never see me as a failure or money wasted but moreso, be there supporting me 100% on my next adventure. 


Do you have any dream roles you'd like to perform? 

Immediately a million roles come to mind but the few that sit at the front of my brain are Leporello (because I love any chance I get to be comical on stage), Count in Le Nozze di Figaro (I mean what more does one have to say, it's Mozart!)  and maybe in 20 years (only slightly kidding lol) I can perform Rigoletto again. I did it once but it was under the most unorthodox case, though very rewarding; I would love another chance to dive into the character of Rigoletto's happiness, fear, hurt and vengeance! And since we're dreaming right? The music I love through and through is for the role of Mimi in La Boheme so if there is anyone with connections to the Make A Wish Foundation tell them there's a low voice performer waiting for an opera company to widen the guidelines for Mimi's character lol and completely either gender flip all the roles in La Boheme or make them genderless so I can sing "Donde Lieta Usci". I did recently fall upon "Che gelida manina" transposed down for Bass-Baritone on IMSLP so that's a step in the right direction! 


Do you have any mentors, and if so, describe that relationship and how they've been a part of your career? 

I have a very special couple that I consider my musical parents, Andrew and Christine Schultze. They have known me for 20 years now and I still remember the first time I met them. Young Keanon, shy and simply in love with music; they saw something in me and have worked tirelessly to help me feel supported on my musical journey. With both of them both being performers themselves, I can always call them and get sound advice and insight on the industry. We as artists meet a lot of people along our musical journey but only a few leave their angelic handprint on  our hearts and Andy and Chris are truly my guardian angels. Motivating, challenging, encouraging and pushing me but at the forefront, always leading with love. 


What advice would you share with a young opera singer at the start of their career; or to someone who is considering pursuing additional training? 

As I tell my students, anything great doesn't come easy. We must always be willing to learn and grow at every stage of our career. The more we know, the more presence we have as a performer. So I would say, the road will never always be easy, but it's a road that will bring you sunshine in the dark days, shelter in the storm, and rainbows afterwards--that's the road filled with music. When your road starts to feel slow and quiet, learn to enjoy the piece before and after the storm. Stay on it, trust the journey, work hard, push yourself, focus on being the best version of you and the universe has a way of working itself out for your good. At some point we must simply follow the journey and don't worry about the destination!


What has been your favorite experience in Portland so far?

Fun story, Judy and I were finishing up from a long day hungry and craving comfort food so we went out for Mexican with former resident artist Jasmine Johnson and afterwards we were like hmmm, let's try out the ice cream parlor, Salt and Straw. So we head in and initially try a few samples and we are IN LOVE, so we decided on a summer seasonal flavor, Poached Pear and Pinot. We get to the register and the employee says, "You know what, I love the energy you guys brought today, the ice cream is on us!" We were genuinely shocked and so happy that our first try of this famous ice cream parlor was both incredible and gratis! It sums up my experience with the food scene in Portland: unique, refreshing and diverse. 

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