Soprano Riley Cardona was raised in a small farming community on the mid-western plains of South Dakota. Critics have described her voice as “most promising” and “a florid high soprano, with flirtatious charm, and tension-free lyricism.”
Riley currently specializes in Mozart repertoire—Donna Anna, Countess Almaviva, Fiordiligi and others. At the same time Ms. Cardona uniquely possesses the vocal color and power to sing the major lyric roles of the operatic repertoire, such as Micaela, Mimi, Manon Lescaut, and with time, many great Verdi heroines.
In 2011, after receiving her undergraduate degree in music education from South Dakota State University, the young soprano was awarded a full scholarship to study opera at the Indiana University School of Music, where she completed her Master of Music degree in summer 2013, under the tutelage of soprano Costanza Cuccaro. While there, she performed Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Daughter in Philip Glass’s Akhnaten and the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro.
In the fall of 2013, she made her professional main stage debut with the Florida Grand Opera in the role of Helen Niles in Marvin David Levy’s Mourning Becomes Electra. And as a young artist apprentice there, she also sang Estelle in a special production of Andy Vores’ No Exit to critical acclaim. In 2015, she was invited to participate in the young artist program at Sarasota Opera in Florida, where she performed the title role in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel and Thibault in Verdi’s Don Carlos.
Since moving to Minneapolis in 2016, she has been a frequently heard soloist with many musical organizations, including The Schubert Club, MacPhail’s Sonomento, the Kenwood Symphony, St. John’s Lutheran Church, the South Metro Chorale, and Bethel University, performing in Handel’s Messiah and Chandos Anthem No. 4 & 6, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Mozart’s Grand Mass in C minor, Vaughan-Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (title role), Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, Bernstein’s Candide (Cunegonde, excerpts) and Mendelssohn’s Psalm 47. She has also been a regularly requested artist to premiere new works with Source Song Festival, an internationally known annual art song masterclass and showcase for both composers and interpreters of song. Riley began working with Orpheus Music Project in 2019 when she was cast as the Guardian Spirit in “Requiem for Frankie Silver,” a commissioned project composed by Craig Carnahan with libretto by Craig Fields, currently schedule to premiere on November 5, 2022.
Riley lives in Spring Lake Park with her husband, where she teaches voice to musicians of all ages and skill levels. She is also Director of Music Ministries with Champlin United Methodist Church.