Joelle Lamarre has been described as a performer of “astounding vocal power” with a range that almost “defies classification and exhibits true spinto quality.” She is an artist in demand, performing new works by today’s composers.
Lamarre appeared in Chicago Opera Theater’s “emotionally riveting” world premiere production of Dan Shore’s Freedom Ride, directed by Tazewell Thompson. She made her Long Beach Opera debut in the world premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Central Park Five by Anthony Davis, eliciting praise from Singerpreneur for her “exquisite soprano” as the mother of two falsely accused boys. She also received critical acclaim as Sister Rose in the Chicago premieres of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, first in DePaul University’s concert presentation of the opera and then as an alumna special guest artist in Northwestern University’s Chicago premiere production.
Beyond traditional opera, Lamarre has collaborated in more experimental forms with renowned composers such as George Lewis, a Guggenheim Fellow, in his opera Afterword and multi-disciplinary artist Sean Griffin in Charles Gaines’ Manifestos 2, a score based on: Malcolm X’s last public speech made in 1965 in Detroit’s Ford Auditorium. She was thrilled to join George Lewis and Sean Griffin to perform their works at the 2017 Ojai Music Festival.
In addition, Lamarre is a multi-faceted artist who pushes boundaries as a writer, music director and artistic adviser. She joined American Repertory Theater in Boston as associate music director for The Black Clown, a world premiere musical adaptation of the Langston Hughes poem by Davóne Tines and Michael Schachter. It was later presented at Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival, where it was hailed as “a remarkable new music theater work of significance and disturbing beauty … illuminating 300 years of the Black experience in a mere 70 minutes.”
Lamarre has been a favorite at Chicago-based South Shore Opera Company since its inception, and she serves as its artistic adviser. In 2017, South Shore Opera invited Lamarre to present her own work, The Violet Hour, which explores the rise of acclaimed soprano Leontyne Price during the 1950s and 1960s, despite segregation and discrimination. The multimedia production, which also featured Robert Sims and Matthew Holzfeind, with pianist Saori Chiba as music director, is being redeveloped as a 3Arts Artist project.
Lamarre made her Lyric Opera of Chicago debut in Show Boat as Lady on the Levee and covered the role of Lily in Porgy and Bess. Chicago audiences were enthralled by her role debut as Cio-Cio-San in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly in the American Chamber Opera production by Jennifer Cox, set in Kenya. Last summer, she joined forces with Daniel Schlosberg for the Fleetwood-Jourdain Theater's concert series, where she gave a recital featuring Faure works and songs by Black female composers.
Her awards include a 3Arts Make a Wave grant, a BRAVO Award from the Bel Canto Foundation and several scholarships to Voicexperience. She received her master’s in vocal performance from Northwestern University, where she created the role of Flora in T.J. Anderson’s Slipknot.