In the world-premiere of Josephine by Tom Cipullo, The Washington Post gushed, “... the afternoon belonged to Melissa Wimbish, who was creating the role of Josephine Baker in this world-premiere … Beautifully prepared, vocally stunning, and theatrically riveting, Wimbish effortlessly held the audience in her hand throughout this one-woman show.” The New York Times wrote of her “show-stealing turn as the hormonal pageboy Cherubino” in OnSite Opera’s revival of The Marriage of Figaro by Marcos Portugal. As Cunegonde, the soprano was praised by The Boulder Daily Camera as “simply incredible … the highlight of the entire evening.” In the role of Juliette, Melissa was “ … especially captivating at the onset performing the reveling ‘Je veux vivre’ complete with impressive vocal runs and coquettish mannerisms” as noted by DC Metro Theater Arts. Even in the tiny role of Barbarina with Lyric Opera Baltimore she did not go unnoticed with Opera News noting her “promising soprano” while The Baltimore Sun echoed praise for her “bright voice” and “knack for animating phrases.” She is known for her chameleon-like vocal talent, which spans traditional, contemporary and popular styles.
Melissa made her Carnegie Hall solo recital debut in 2014 featuring a program of contemporary American art song and the world-premiere of Space in Chains by Jessica Meyer set to poetry by Laura Kasischke. In 2017, she delivered a rousing solo debut in György Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre with the Baltimore Symphony. At the Kennedy Center, she was a featured soloist in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Washington Ballet. Career highlights include Nimue in Camelot with Shakespeare Theatre Company, Carmina Burana with Washington Ballet, Candide with Baltimore Symphony and Mozart’s Requiem with Richmond Symphony. Melissa has performed with American Opera Projects, Baltimore Concert Opera, Opera Modérne, Annapolis Opera, Opera Delaware, Single Carrot Theatre, The Spirituals Project, Vocal Arts DC, the Denver Philharmonic, the National Philharmonic, American Modern Ensemble, Concert Artists of Baltimore, Manchester Choral Society, Maryland Choral Society, The Occasional Symphony and Young Artists of America.
At the NATS Artist Award (NATSAA) Competition, Melissa was awarded First Place by the National Association of Teachers of Singing; one of the top national honors for classical singers. Her performance over four rounds also earned her the Franco-American Award for Best Interpretation of French Repertoire. She and her accompanist Ju Young Lee were honored for Best Interpretation of American Song at the International Liszt-Garrison Competition in 2013. Other awards include the Vocal Arts DC Discovery Series Competition, Denver Philharmonic Concerto Competition, Kennett Square Competition and the Hilda Perl & Douglas Goodwin Award for Opera.
Melissa has established herself as an in-demand interpreter of modern opera and contemporary work with dozens of premiere credits. As an original cast member of Paul's Case by Gregory Spears, she premiered the role of the History Teacher at Beth Morrison Projects’ Prototype Festival and recorded the role. She will reprise her critically-acclaimed portrayal of Josephine Baker in the New York City premiere of Josephine at Chelsea Opera in 2018. She is an ensemble member of the DC-based opera improvisation troupe UrbanArias and regularly performs new and improvised work in the DC area. Other opera credits include Cunegonde (Candide), Manon (Manon), Adele (Die Fledermaus), Lady with the Cakebox (Postcard from Morocco), Micaëla (Carmen), Cherubino (The Marriage of Figaro; Marcos Portugal), Nella (Gianni Schicchi), Barbarina (Le nozze di Figaro), Silly Baby Mouse (The Tale of the Silly Baby Mouse), Miss Rose (Lakmé), First Lady
(Die Zauberflöte), Blöndchen (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Christine (Lost Childhood; Hamer), Nancy Tuckerman (Camelot Requiem; Bornfield), Eve (Adam and Eve; Soluri) and Elle in Poulenc’s monodrama for soprano, La voix humaine. A budding fan of early music, Melissa regularly appears in recital with the Baltimore-based early music ensemble S’amusant.
Alongside Britt Olsen-Ecker, Melissa fronts and leads Outcalls. They have rapidly established themselves as a genre-defying powerhouse in the Baltimore music scene. The band’s latest album was listed in Baltimore Magazine’s “Best Music of 2017.” Their single, “No King” won Best Vocal Performance in WTMD Radio’s Alternative Music Awards and was named one of The Baltimore Sun’s “30 Songs that Defined Baltimore in 2017.” Outcalls will release their first full-length album in spring 2020.
Melissa lives in Baltimore with her mute cat, Billy.