Dramatic Soprano Melissa Montague Sumner has appeared widely in opera, oratorio, and recital. Ms. Sumner made her first appearance with Union Avenue Opera in St. Louis as Helmwige in Wagner's Die Walküre in August 2013 and reprised the role at Carnegie Hall. Upcoming and recent engagements include recitals at Enterprise State Community College, Mary Baldwin College, Radford University, and Bridgewater College. In the spring of 2012, she returned to New York Lyric Opera to sing Sieglinde in Wagner's Die Walküre at the Dimenna Center. In 2011 she sang Gertrude in Hänsel und Gretel with Luray Opera, and then made her debut with NYLO singing Gertrude in Symphony Space. That same year, Ms. Sumner performed the title role of Suor Angelica in Freiberg, Germany at the Mittelsäschsisches Theater under renowned conductor Jan Michael Horstman and stage director Michael Britsch. She also appeared as a soprano soloist at James Madison University, singing Weber's Mass in G Minor with orchestra.
In 2010 Ms. Sumner performed Lia in Debussy's L'Enfant Prodigue at the Forbes Performing Art Center at James Madison University, and was a guest soloist for the Masterworks Chorus of the Shenandoah Valley. While singing as a Young Artist with the Staunton Music Festival, she returned to the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra to perform Samuel Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1912 under Conductor Peter Wilson.
Melissa Sumner made her debut with the Wagner Opera Theater in New York under the direction of conductor David Gilbert in 2008, singing Gerhilde. She continued to work with Patricia Sage, Barbara Conrad, and the Wagner Opera Theater in Manhattan, while returning to Schola Cantorum as a guest soprano soloist in C. P. E. Bach's Magnificat with orchestra. That same year she made her first appearance with the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra.
In 2007 Melissa Sumner received a full assistantship and stipend to complete a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree at James Madison University. While a doctoral student, she performed the role of Hannah Lehar's The Merry Widow, and gave recitals, and master classes at Emory and Henry College, Radford University, Tusculum College, Mary Baldwin College, Bluefield Episcopal Church Recital Series, and James Madison University. In 2006 she appeared with orchestra in Schola Cantorum's performance of Mozart's Requiem, and returned to Ash Lawn Opera Festival as an Artist in Residence, after being a Young Artist there in 2005. That same year, she she performed Suor Angelica in Puccini's Suor Angelica, a role she also performed in Rome, Italy,as a Guest Artist at the University of Virginia. Ms. Sumner also made her first appearance at the Eureka Theater in San Francisco under the baton of Matthias Kuntzsch, singing Ilia in Mozart's Idomeneo and La Speranza in Monteverdi's L'Orfeo. She then returned to Virginia to sing Respighi's Laud to the Nativity as a soprano soloist with the Williamsburg Choral Guild, and gave a guest performance at Longwood University. Ms. Sumner made her first appearance with Schola Cantorum as a soprano soloist with orchestra in Haydn's Mass in Time of War.
Melissa Sumner holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Emory and Henry College, where she was the recipient of the Kathy Bingham Fine Arts Scholarship and Adrienne Arrow Davis Scholarship Award. During that time, she received a Brevard Music Center Scholarship Award, and attend Brevard Music Center in 1996 and 1997, singing Cousin Hebe in H.M.S. Pinafore and Musetta in scenes from La Boheme under Henry Janiec. In 1996 she was a finalist in the Orpheus Vocal Competition.
In 2001 she received a Master of Music Degree from the University of Tennessee, performing numerous roles under the direction of Carroll Freeman in the UT Opera Theater: Susannah in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, Sarah Good in Robert Ward's The Crucible, Giorgetta in Puccini's Il Tabarro, and Le Cercatrici in Puccini's Suor Angelica. In 1999, Ms. Sumner was a MACCO Competition Winner. She made her professional operatic debut as Edith in Knoxville Opera's production of The Pirates of Penzance that same year.
In 2015, Melissa Sumner received a Doctor of Music Degree specializing in vocal pedagogy, song literature, and vocal performance from James Madison University, where she studied in the vocal studios of Dr. In dal Choi and Dr. Dorothy Maddison.
Her interest and research in the vocal literature of Olivier Messiaen resulted in a lecture recital and dissertation entitled Olivier Messiaen: An Analysis of Selected Vocal Works by Olivier Messiaen: The Application of Twentieth Century Harmonic techniques in French Melodies. Ms. Sumner continues to perform Messiaen's music on the recital stage.
As an educator, Melissa Sumner has served on the vocal faculty at Mary Baldwin College, Radford Univeristy, the University of Virginia, and Bridegwater College.