Rebecca Farley, Soprano: From Henderson, KY to Carnegie Hall

Raised outside of rural Henderson, Kentucky, Rebecca heard plenty of music at home, but it was all Elvis and the Beatles. Feeling isolated out on the family farm, she joined her high school chorus mainly to be part of a group of kids.  It was there that her amazing voice was discovered.

At age 16 she attended the Governor’s School for the Arts (GSA), a state-run summer arts camp in Lexington, KY, where she had her first voice lesson, and her dream of a future as a professional singer began to take shape.

Rebecca was accepted into the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music but her family was unable to afford the out-of-state tuition. So with a combination of merit scholarships and a special grant for GSA alumni, she studied music at the University of Kentucky.  It was there, in the summer before her senior year, that a friend encouraged her to come along with her to Chicago, where auditions for the prestigious Chautauqua Institution in New York were being held. Rebecca decided to go along for the ride, sending in her application for the summer training program at the very last minute -  too late to be scheduled for an audition. But the Chair of the Voice Department, the famed voice teacher Marlena Malas, allowed her to sing anyway and signed her up immediately. Now, at Juilliard for her advanced degree, Rebecca is trained by Marlena Malas. “It’s so important to have the right student-teacher chemistry,” she says. “You need to be of the same mind of where you want your voice to go and how you want to use it.”

Her acceptance at Juilliard was the next milestone in Rebecca’s young life, but the cost of tuition as well as of living in New York required her to work evenings as a cater waiter.  A demanding job under any conditions, it was especially challenging for Rebecca as she studied at Juilliard all day and tried to adjust to the pressures and demands of New York life and the Juilliard experience. She would often come home from work at 3 a.m. and have to go to class the next morning.  “As a singer, your instrument is your body. And mine was so, so tired.”

She finished her first year, having been cast in multiple singing parts, and in the summer she was studying German in Munich on a Lucrezia Bori Grant when she got an e-mail from Juilliard saying she had been awarded the highly competitive Kovner Fellowship for her second year.  “I hadn’t applied for this and had no idea I was even being considered.  I was all alone in Munich when I got that e-mail and had a big celebration all by myself!” The Fellowship enabled her to quit her catering job and devote herself full time to her musical training.

Now, at age 26, Rebecca will be making her Carnegie Hall debut with The Cecilia Chorus of New York. Her family from Henderson will be there. 

Rebecca Farley, soprano, hails from Henderson, KY and is a Master of Music student at The Juilliard School. Last season she made her New York debut as Bubikopf in Viktor Ullmann's Der Kaiser von Atlantis, which she followed up this season with dazzling performances as the Controller in Jonathan Dove's Flight. Other operatic roles include Gilda in Rigoletto, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Nannetta in Falstaff, and Zerlina in Don Giovanni. Last December she appeared alongside Brian Zeger at Alice Tully Hall where they performed obscure Liszt lieder. As a concert soloist, she has sung in Orff's Carmina Burana, Mahler's Resurrection Symphony, Handel's Messiah, and premiered the role of Mary the Mother in Angela Rice's oratorio Thy Will Be Done. She is thrilled to be singing with The Cecilia Chorus of New York and adding Bach's Magnificat to her repertoire.  

Ms. Farley received her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Kentucky where she was an Alltech Scholarhip recipient.  As an Alltech Scholar, she did concert tours in Normandy, Ireland, Peru, and Mexico. Currently, Ms. Farley is a proud recipient of a Kovner Fellowship at The Juilliard School.