Gayle Shay, mezzo soprano, and Associate Professor of Voice and Director of Vanderbilt Opera Theatre at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee has performed throughout the United States, Canada, and China in theatre, musical theater, opera and oratorio including productions with the Washington (DC) Opera, the Maryland Handel Festival, the Des Moines Metro Opera Guild, OpenStage Theater (Fort Collins, CO), Colorado Lyric Theater, Nautilus New Music Theatre Company (Minneapolis), Waterfront Theatre (Vancouver, British Colombia). Professional stage direction and production credits include those with Wolf Trapp Opera, Maryland Opera Studio, Opera/Omaha, Des Moines Drama Workshop, Dorian Opera Theatre, Colorado Children’s Opera Theatre, New England Light Opera, Icicle Creek Young Artist Program, Nashville Opera, Variations Musical Theatre (Des Moines, IA), Vancouver International Song Institute, and Tun Wang People’s Theatre (Guangzhou, China).
Dr. Shay has appeared regularly on the Songfest Art Song Concert Series in Malibu, CA working with composers John Harbison and Jake Heggie, and pianists Martin Katz and Graham Johnson, and she has been a member of the International Voice Workshop at the Canadian Banff Centre for the Arts under the direction of Richard Armstrong. She has also been a featured performer at the Vancouver International Song Institute (VISI) since its founding year, and is the co-director of VISI’s innovative SONGFIRE Art Song Theatre Apprenticeship. Additionally, Dr. Shay (along with her writing partner, Brenda Sparks) has written and produced five original, fully-scripted and staged, Art Song Theatre works (That Way Goes the Game, Seaworthy, Once, Babylon, We Are Still Young, Can You Hear Me?) three of which were premiered at VISI and have had subsequent productions in Nashville, TN and Indianapolis, IN. A passionate advocate for arts for social change, Dr. Shay has also developed curriculum at Vanderbilt University to train young artists in community engagement.
In spring 2017, her advanced community engagement class collaborated with the residents of Nashville’s Mary Parrish Center, a residential facility for survivors of domestic abuse. The result of this collaboration was an hour-long music theatre piece entitled Unapologetically ME with a script derived from interviews with the MPC residents. Both the young artists and residents performed in the final production. Dr. Shay makes her home in Nashville and is human to two brown dogs and wife to one husband.