Described as a “velvet-voiced soprano”, Marlaina Owens, a native of Los Angeles, has concertized throughout Austria, France, Germany, and the United States. A 2022-2023 Fulbright scholar, Marlaina is driven by a desire to champion the work of African American classical compositions. Much like operatic inspirations Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle accomplished with “The Magic of Spirituals” at Carnegie Hall, Marlaina hopes to bring to the light those works which have historically garnered less praise than their classical contemporaries. Her desire to look to the past to inform the present brought her to the Fulbright; ultimately leading her to investigate the musical similarities between the Parisian Jazz Age and the Harlem Renaissance. Marlaina also took advantage of her time in Paris to further explore operatic repertoire under the tutelage of Sylvia Kevorkian and Jory Vinikour. Marlaina’s operatic credits include Anastasio in Handel’s Giustino, Adele and Rosalinda in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, Nella in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Lover in Puccini’s Il Tabarro, Second Lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, and the title role in Puccini’s Suor Angelica. Equally home in both theater and music, Owens’ performance artistry is shaped by her captivating stage presence, stylistic versatility, and keen sense of dramatic timing. Her engagements in the 2021-22 season include playing Anastasio in Long Beach Opera’s production of Handel’s Giustino and a young artist position with Opera Santa Barbara Chrisman Studio Program. Later that year, Marlaina also joined Chicago Lyric in their productions of Puccini’s Tosca and the Grammy Award Winning opera, Terrance Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones.
She spent summer 2021 in Germany and France, training with various professionals, such as operatic sopranos, Annick Masis, Roberta Alexander, and Janet Williams. In the 2020-2021 season, her focus was the role of Denise in Long Beach Opera’s imposing new work, Creative in Me. Most impressively, this operatic piece has been adapted to be performed virtually—and in its entirety—via Zoom. During this time, Marlaina also collaborated on a virtual film exhibit with Long Beach Opera and the Museum of Latin American Art, culminating in a four-part visual album that celebrates Black and Latinx women’s beauty and empowerment. In 2019-2020, Marlaina enjoyed soloist opportunities with the LA Opera League and the Shivers Concert Series in Colorado Springs. She had the privilege of being a finalist in the historical NAMN Marian Anderson Voice Competition in Chicago, and an emerging artist with the Berlin Opera Academy. She holds a Master’s degree in Voice from University of California, Irvine, and a Bachelor's degree in Vocal Performance from Loyola Marymount University.