Brian Asawa’s groundbreaking career has established himself as one of the foremost countertenors of our time. The Japanese American singer was the first countertenor Grand Prize Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the first countertenor Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera, and the first countertenor honored with Seattle Opera’s Artist of the Year Award. He is also the only countertenor ever to win the top prize of Placido Domingo’s Operalia International Vocal Competition.
Over a career spanning 21 years, he has sung in most major opera houses worldwide, including San Francisco Opera, The Metropolitan Opera, de Nederlandse Opera, Opera National de Paris (Garnier), Teatro Real (Madrid), Barcelona Opera, Staatsoper Unter den Linden (Berlin), Hamburgische Staatsoper, Munchner Bayerische Staatsoper, Opera de Lyon, Opera de Montpellier, The Spoleto Festival, Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera di Roma, Teatro di San Carlo (Napoli), Florida Grand Opera, Teatro Colon (Buenos Aires), Dallas Opera, San Diego Opera, New Israeli Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Cologne Opera, and Opera de Geneve.On the concert platform he has performed with Seattle Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Boston’s Haydn and Handel Festival, Washington Chorale (D.C.), National Symphony (D.C), London Symphony Orchestra, Alberta Early Music Festival, Philadelphia Orchestra, Vail Valley Music Festival, Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Kitchener Waterloo Symphony, Lincoln Center (NYC), Vienna Musikverein, BBC Symphony Orchestra, and the Collegiate Chorale of New York (Skirball Center).
This past season, Asawa recorded Baroque arias and cantatas with mezzo-soprano Diana Tash, Baroque cellist Frederic Rosselet, and harpsichordist Arthur Omura (due out in Oct.). He also made his Hawaii Opera Theater debut as Orlofsky in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus signifying the first time in history where a countertenor performed on the stage of HOT. He also made his LA Phil debut in Peter Oetvos’ Angels in America which was well received.
Mr. Asawa has recorded five solo discs: The Dark is my Delight (lute songs with David Tayler by Dowland, Campion, and others), Vocalise (arias and songs by Medtner, Faure, Rachmaninov, and Villa-Lobos), cantatas by Alessandro Scarlatti with Nicholas McGegan, and 2 song cycles by Ned Rorem with the LA Chamber Orchestra. He is featured on video as Baba the Turk in Stravinsky’sThe Rake’s Progress with Swedish Television One, Fyodor in Mussorgsky’s Boris Gudonov (Willy Decker production) and l’Umana Fragilita and Anfinomo in Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria (Pierre Audi production) both with de Nederlandse Opera.
Recent engagements include a solo recital tour of Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Francisco, and Lacey, Washington and a concert with Diana Tash, Frederic Rosselet, and Arthur Omura in Guadalajara in May 2014, headlining the Festival de Mayo.
American Mezzo-Soprano Diana Tash appears in both operatic roles onstage, and as a featured soloist, gaining popularity in recital with renowned pianist Armen Guzelimian. On September 30, 2014, Tash along with famed countertenor Brian Asawa release their new baroque recording, “Spirits of the air.” Her varied career has spanned both the soprano and mezzo repertoire. Performances in 2014 include the role of Annina in La Traviata with the Pacific Symphony and as well as a tour to Guadalajara to perform The Baroque Project program in concert with countertenor Brian Asawa at the Festival de Mayo. Preceding this, includes performing two new songs by Composer Ian Krouse with the Debussy Trio and performing the World premiere “Sacred Transitions” with LA Philharmonic violinist Mitchell Newman by composer Russell Steinberg . Past performances include a 2013 Collegiate Tour in Tennessee and Mississippi with award winning composer Maria Newman; singing the alto solos with The Santa Barbara Chorale Society in Handel’s Messiah in December 2012; with Long Beach Opera In Medea in 2011 and at Sacramento Opera as Medoro in Orlando in November 2010.
Solo performances (with Guzelimian at the piano) include her Carnegie Hall Recital in 2008, and her Los Angeles recital at Zipper Hall in 2006, a live recording of which was released as the full-length CD “Diana Tash In Recital” in March 2009 with LML Records. In 2012 Tash performed along with Guzelimian and NY Philharmonic principal violist Cynthia Phelps at MAHMA in Malibu, CA and in a recital with Guzelimian for Santa Barbara Opera in December 2011. In September 2011, Ms Tash was joined by countertenor Brian Asawa and pianist Armen Guzelimian in a Duo Recital at the Colburn School , and in October 2011, a mini tour of The Baroque Project was performed in San Francisco and Los Angeles with countertenor Brian Asawa .
Her mezzo stage work has been hailed as “radiant” by the LA Times, “stylish” by the San Diego Union and “skillful” by the NY times. She is a Southern California radio favorite, having recurred for many years (as both mezzo and soprano) on “Sundays Live at LACMA” on KCSN 88.5FM. The Japanese Website, Opera Japonica, calls Diana’s singing “honeyed” and “colorful.”
Solo work in ‘09 has included Mendelssohn’s Elijah with LA Master Chorale at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and a rare performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Jeremiah (for mezzo- soprano and orchestra) with The Akron Symphony in Ohio. She has performed the Mozart Requiem in ’09 and ’08, and the Bach Magnificat in ’07, all with the Santa Barbara Chorale Society, and covered the mezzo role in John Adam's El Niño for the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2005.
Mezzo roles include Mercedes in Carmen at LA Opera, conducted by Placido Domingo in’04. With Long Beach Opera ‘03, she sang Ariadne in Milhaud’s L'Abandon d'Ariadne, and Mastrilla in Offenbach’s La Perichole. Other credits include The Magic Flute, at both San Diego Opera and Opera Pacific. In a pair of trousers, audiences have seen her as Hansel, in Hansel und Gretel at San Luis Obispo Opera ‘06, and as Oscar in Un Ballo in Maschera with LA Opera ‘93.
Diana’s past soprano work includes roles in: Elektra, Der Rosenkavalier, Le Nozze di Figaro, Die Entfürung aus dem Serial, L'Italiana in Algeri and Cosí fan Tutte—all performed during her years as a resident artist with LA Opera. At the Alderburgh Festival in Suffolk, England, she sang soprano roles in Elegy for Young Lovers (English Libretto) and in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. Work at the Aspen Music Festival included Mozart's Idomeneo, with Lawrence Foster conducting, and Coronation Mass, with Joel Revzen conducting. Her soprano work in Lukas Foss' Song of Songs with the LA Jewish Symphony won critical reviews from the LA Times, who remarked that she sang “with point.”
Diana is a graduate of USC's Thornton School of Music, was a winner at the Metropolitan Opera's Western Regional Auditions, and has a Masters Degree from the Manhattan School of Music in New York.